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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:53 pm 
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I know, I know, how bad a procrastinator do you have to be that you make your New Year's Read-olutions "starting February 1 ..."

ANYWAY, the Around the World in 52 Books thing at My Tragic Right Hip caught my eye, but my "to be read" list is tiny and overstuffed with British authors, so recommendations are much appreciated.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:00 pm 
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By what measure do you establish the country of the book? For instance, Reza Aslan is an Iranian-born American. Is his book No god but God - on the history and evolution (and future) of Islam - American or Iranian?

Irshad Manji's The Trouble with Islam Today would cover Canada (though she was born in Uganda).

(Can you tell what my current academic interest is?)

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:05 pm 
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You could read the entire "Dune" series. Or "The Dragonriders of Pern" books. That'll suck up some time.

I'm not ambitious enough to try the 52-books-around-the-world thing, but lately I've been looking for good SF that I missed over the years. Right now I'm reading the Mars trilogy.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:25 pm 
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FreakyBoy wrote:
By what measure do you establish the country of the book?

Mostly, books set in or about a country where the author grew up or lives now. So, a fair degree of flexibility.

My list so far:
Cuba: Havana Best Friends by Jose Latour
Nigeria: Half A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (whose first novel Purple Hibiscus was amazing, by the way)

... Yeah, still a lot of listing left to do.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:40 pm 
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Oh. In that case, forget what I suggested! :)

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:50 pm 
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I second the site's suggestion of My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. I've also heard a lot of positive things about Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi but have yet to read the book (or even see the film) myself. If you are going along the country-by-country-style of the idea in the site it's worth mentioning that Niemi is Swedish, not Finnish despite his name.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:17 pm 
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Take a look at Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson. An entertaining little social commentary on Canada and North America in general.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:40 pm 
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(1) JAPAN - The Wind-up Bird Chronicles - Haruki Murakami
(2) INDIA - The Moor's Last Sigh - Salman Rushdie
(3) THAILAND - Sightseeing - Rattawut Lapcharoensap
(4) COLUMBIA - One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

These are four terrific and very different books from around the world. If you allow books not set in the country of their author, I would add (5) Michael Ende's Neverending Story as the entry for Germany.

Order of Personal Preference (best to merely great)
5, 1, 2, 4, 3

Order of Ease of Reading
3 (short stories), 5, 1, 2, 4

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 4:00 pm 
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inspiration wrote:
FreakyBoy wrote:
By what measure do you establish the country of the book?

Mostly, books set in or about a country where the author grew up or lives now. So, a fair degree of flexibility.


What's wrong with the ones on the list you found?

My recommendations are mostly famous stuff you've probably already heard of, but I've tried to go for things that made me feel like I knew the country and its people a little better by the end. For what it's worth:

'The Kite Runner' - Khaled Hosseini - Afghanistan
Has had a lot of hype around it, but it is genuinely good, if not great.

'A City out of Sight' and 'To the Wild Sky' - Ivan Southall - Australia
A children's author but his characterisation is spot on and you get a very Australian feel. All his books are good, but these (the second is the sequel) give you a bit more to get your teeth into.

'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' - Alexander McCall Smith - Botswana
Not great literature but good fun. Maybe Botswana deserves better, though... :-P

'The Shipping News' - E. Annie Proulx - Canada
Overhyped, but worth a read. Or you could just (re)read 'Anne of Green Gables' of course. :-)

'Wild Swans' - Jung Chang - China
Not fiction (or only partially) but thoughtful, beautiful and extremely educational - yes, that does mean lots of misery!

'The Trial' - Franz Kafka - Czech Republic
I've only read one Kafka, this one, so others might be better. I wasn't terribly impressed. Sometimes it's worth reading something by an author this famous just so you can say you have...

'Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow' - Peter Hoeg - Denmark/Greenland
Gets a bit silly towards the end but very atmospheric and well-written.

'Moominvalley in November' - Tove Jansson - Finland
What?! She's a seriously good writer. It's a touching exploration of loneliness, isolation, fear, anger and community. No exaggeration.

'Njalls saga' - anon - Iceland
The best of the Icelandic 'family' sagas. Long, hard and well worth the trouble. Make sure your edition has a character index, maps and family trees. Nuff said.

'The God of Small Things' - Arundhati Roy - India
Very good, but harrowing. If you don't fancy being harrowed there's always 'A Suitable Boy' - Vikram Seth - which is friendly and engaging.

'A Pale View of Hills' - Kazuo Ishiguro - Japan
Fantastically good. Everything by Ishiguro is, but not all his books are set in Japan. He only lived there til he was 6, though, so that might disqualify him.

'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' - Alexander Soltzenitsyn - Russia
Obviously there are a host of great books from Russia, so I thought I'd recommend this one as it's maybe a bit less well known than 'War and Peace', 'Anna Karenina', 'Crime and Punishment' etc. It's better than the first two of these and as good as the third. And it's short for if your stamina runs low (which it would if you read 'Wild Swans' and 'Njalls saga'!)

'Cry, the Beloved Country' - Alan Paton - South Africa
Or 'Disgrace' - J. M. Coetze, but this is marginally better imo.

I think that's all I've got, apart from giving my opinion of 'A Hundred Years of Solitude', which is that it's total garbage. Other stuff by Gabriel Garcia Marquez might not be, but I don't hold out much hope.

Thank you for giving me the excuse to do that! Great fun...

Edit: Hmm. Sorry for dissing one of your favourite books then, kitoba. Hope you don't mind. :-P


Last edited by fes23 on Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 4:07 pm 
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The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho = Spain/North Africa
Canone Inverso by Paolo Maurensig = Italy I think
Adventures of an Ice Princess by Liz Maverick = Antarctica baby! :kiki:
Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andrei Makine = Russia/ France (if you want to stretch it)
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth = India (brace yourself this one is HUGE)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel = India/ Pacific Ocean
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant = Isreal/the Levant/Egypt

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:10 pm 
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fes23 wrote:
Edit: Hmm. Sorry for dissing one of your favourite books then, kitoba. Hope you don't mind. :-P


Meh, it doesn't necessarily make any of my all-time lists. I enjoyed it but I could see why other people might not. I put it on the list because it's one of the few books I've ever read by a South American author.

On the other hand I do really highly recommend the Murakami book --that really IS one of my all time favorites.

It's ironic but the one Ishiguro book I really loved is his British classic, "Remains of the Day". I've read a couple of his others but I found them far too emotionally repressive. It works in RotD for me as a study of an emotionally repressed character, whereas if every character is that way, it gets a bit much.

Anyway, you made me think of a couple other possible entries.

CANADA - "The Handmaid's Tale" - Margaret Atwood (of course, it's set in a near-future America). Conversely, there's Farley Mowat's "Never Cry Wolf" for a more purely Canadian experience.
ARGENTINA - Any one of Jorge Luis Borges' collections of short stories.
CHINA - "Woman Warrior" - Maxine Hong Kingston

I was going to mention "Bless Me Ultima" but apparently it's set in NEW Mexico and not Mexico as I assumed when I read it.

NETHERLANDS - "Nightfather" -Carl Friedman
This is a very short but amazingly haunting set of linked stories about a Holocaust survivor and his children. Everyone should read it --it's absolutely indelible.

NOTE: This is off the TragicRightHip list, but it's one of my wife's all-time favorite books. I recommend it too.

SENEGAL Mariama Ba, "So Long a Letter"

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:30 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
I was going to mention "Bless Me Ultima" but apparently it's set in NEW Mexico and not Mexico as I assumed when I read it.

And we're forced to read it because of that. I really didn't like it. In fact, that book single-handedly destroyed my High School career. Well, at least in English.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:07 am 
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fes23 wrote:
'A Pale View of Hills' - Kazuo Ishiguro - Japan
Fantastically good. Everything by Ishiguro is, but not all his books are set in Japan. He only lived there til he was 6, though, so that might disqualify him.


If you're looking for something both more fun and more authentically Japanese, I recommend 'Ring' - Koji Suzuki - Japan. It's a really good horror novel (which became a really good horror film), excellent mainly in terms of structure, mood, and complexity of ideas.

In fact, the entire trilogy (Ring, Spiral, and Loop) is pretty damn good, and fascinating for the way it moves effortlessly from horror (Ring) to science fiction (Spiral) to philosophy (Loop) in fractal form--the way a grain of sand looks like a rock looks like a mountain. He just keeps pulling out and out, and it ends up being marvelously epic where it was once exquisitely small and detailed.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:55 am 
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Well... If you're looking for anything American..and lighthearted (and about werewolves) at any time, for fun.. Patricia Briggs wrote one called "Moon Called" about a ..."skinwalker" or shapeshifter that lives in/by the area I grew up in. I thought it was neat, and gave some information about this area out here I like to call home. (Eastern Oregon. Not pretty)

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