Posts tagged with ‘books’

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng, translated by JaHyun Kim Haboush

This is a properly remarkable book. It is, as the subtitle explains, ‘The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea’. Lady Hyegyŏng* was married into the royal family; she married Sado, the Crown Prince, when they were both nine years old. Sado never became king — he was executed in 1762 at the age of 27 — but […]

The Epic of Askia Mohammed by Nouhou Malio, trans. Thomas A. Hale

This is an interesting one: a piece of oral poetry, transcribed from a performance by a griot*, Nouhou Malio, in Niger. To quote the introduction: The Epic of Askia Mohammed recounts the life of the most famous ruler of the Songhay empire, a man who reigned in Gao, an old city in present-day eastern Mali, from […]

Kvachi by Mikheil Javakhishvili

The original title of this book was Kvachi Kvachantiradze; presumably the publisher of the English edition thought that was a bit intimidating. With names like Javakhishvili and Kvachantiradze, it is of course my book from Georgia for the Read The World challenge. It’s actually my second attempt for Georgia; I tried reading Avelum by Otar Chiladze, but didn’t finish it. I wondered at the […]

Stamping Grounds by Charlie Connelly

Full title: Stamping Grounds: Exploring Liechtenstein and Its World Cup Dream. It’s Connelly’s account of following the Liechtenstein national soccer team during their qualification matches for the 2002 World Cup. After my previous book from Liechtenstein for the Read The World challenge turned out not to be from Liechtenstein at all, this one is at least about […]

Food In England by Dorothy Hartley

This is a magnificent book, written in 1953 by someone who learnt her cooking in English country kitchens in the days before widespread electricity and gas. It’s a combination of food history, recipes, general household advice, bits of personal memoir, opinion, and amusing or interesting quotes from old books. Apart from the obvious stuff — what sauces to serve […]

Nora by Ferdinande von Brackel, translated by Princess Marie of Liechtenstein

This was supposed to be my book from Liechtenstein for the Read The World challenge. It was listed as Nora: A Novel from the German by Marie, Princess of Liechtenstein. All the companies selling it are ones that do ‘reproduction’ copies of scanned out-of-copyright books, complete with slight scanning errors and blemishes; which is a useful service, […]

The Wanderer by Jane Holland

This, according to the blurb, is a ‘controversial reworking’ of the famous Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name*. ‘Controversial’ and ‘famous’ are both relative terms here, of course. I assume the controversy mainly arose because the poem is given a female narrator. To quote the introduction: I also transformed the male ‘Wanderer’ of the poem’s title into […]

Exotic Territory: A Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary Paraguayan Poetry, ed. & trans. Ronald Haladyna

This is my book from Paraguay for the Read The World challenge. I previously bought a copy of I, the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos, but that’s a fat dense modernist novel and it defeated me. I always find it frustrating reading poetry in translation. I mean, even with English-language poetry I often find myself uncertain, not knowing what to think; […]

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in Search of Happiness by Amadou Ndiaye

This is my book from Mauritania for the Read The World challenge. It tells the story of Baba, a teenager who risks his life in a crowded refugee boat to start a new life in Spain. A geographical aside: the book kept talking about taking a small boat from Mauritania to Spain, which seemed staggering. It […]

The perfidious Kindle

In 2014 I read almost entirely genre fiction, and I blame the Kindle. Not there’s anything wrong with genre fiction. When it’s well-written, it is the purest kind of reading pleasure; story-telling with no other purpose than to entertain. It’s a bit like Hollywood blockbusters; a well-made blockbuster is in some ways the apotheosis of cinema. Brash, glossy, […]

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo

This is the family history of three generations of Germans. The author’s grandparents were young during WWII; one grandfather fought in the French Resistance, the other seems to have been a lukewarm Fascist, but both ended up being inspired by the promise of the new socialist East Germany that was going to rise out of […]

Almaty-Transit  by Dana Mazur

This is my book from Kazakhstan for the Read The World challenge, and it is, unusually, contemporary literary fiction (from 2010!). Which would be even more unusual if it had actually been translated from Kazakh or Russian, but it’s a novel in English by a Kazakh immigrant to the US. And the action moves between Los Angeles — where Aidar, a Kazakh […]

Read The World challenge: status report, 2014

I’ve only ticked off nine new countries in the last twelve months. This means that the finish-line has receded even further into the future, but hey-ho.

Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos

An interesting fact about Rómulo Gallegos: he was the first democratically elected president of Venezuela, in 1948 (although only for a few months before losing power to a coup d’état). He was a writer before he was a politician; Doña Bárbara was published in 1929. It is, of course, my book from Venezuela for the Read The […]

The Forlorn Adventure by Amir Falique

This is my book from Brunei for the Read The World challenge. Brunei is one of the countries which is particularly difficult to find books from; so when I found this self-published ‘science fiction thriller’ on Amazon I snapped it up. It is the story of A’jon, a man chosen to be Brunei’s first astronaut because of […]

Dante International by Sharon Kasanda

Dante International is my book from Namibia for the Read The World challenge. A few months ago, I picked a detective novel for Malaysia because I thought it would make a good change to read newly released genre fiction rather than decades-old literary stuff. This is what I said about that book: 21 Immortals was a […]

My Country, Africa: Autobiography of the Black Pasionaria by Andrée Blouin

I read this for the Read The World challenge as my book from the Central African Republic, which is where Andrée Blouin was born — although she didn’t actually live there for very long. Her father, Pierre Gerbillat, was a French businessman with a transport company in what was then French Equatorial Africa. He saw Andrée’s mother, […]

Epitaph of a Small Winner* by Machado de Assis

I’ve already read a book from Brazil for the Read The World challenge, but I really enjoyed this so I thought I’d add it to the blog-pile. I can’t remember why I picked this up, but I *really* enjoyed it. It’s a C19th novel which is ‘surprisingly modern’ — in scare quotes because that seems to be […]

21 Immortals by Rozlan Mohd Noor and Ripples by Shih-Li Kow

These are a couple of books from Malaysia which I read for the Read The World challenge, both picked because I thought they would make a change compared to some of what I read for the challenge. For a start, they’re both contemporary works, rather than the 20, 30, 40 year old books I often […]

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon

This is a grim but fascinating book. Obviously I knew that black people in the southern states of the US had a pretty rough time of it in the period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, what with disenfranchisement and segregation and lynching. But I didn’t appreciate that slavery re-emerged and continued […]

Mirabella and the Pearl of Chulothe by Laila Al Bellucci

This is my book from Oman for the Read The World challenge. It’s a YA fantasy novel set in an English boarding school, so it’s a slightly odd choice for my purposes; but there weren’t many good alternatives, and it was cheap on kindle, so I thought I might as well read it. It’s not […]

God’s Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène

This is a novel from 1960 about the railway workers’ strike on the Niger-Dakar railway 13 years earlier. When I said in my Read The World challenge status update that I’d read 16½ books this year, this was the half book; it has taken me rather a long time to finish. Mainly I think that’s […]

Read The World challenge: status report, 2013

As of August 1st, I’ve been reading my way round the world for five years and I’m at 135 countries accounted for — or 99 books read since I started (99½, actually). You can check the map here. Which means I’ve read 16 (and a half!) this year. Which is down from the rate I managed at […]