HALFWAY APPEAL

July 1, 2012

So here we are: 98 books in and 98 books to go. Halfway round the world, exactly halfway through the year.

And what a journey it’s been so far. We’ve heard the North Korean government’s official line on fiction, sourced a manuscript of a classic novel unavailable in English from Mozambique and listened to a story written specially for the project from the world’s newest country South Sudan.

We’ve seen a Burundian novel published to ebook because of enthusiasm from blog readers, discovered the Andorran Dan Brown and had help from a Luxembourgish pop star to find a book from the world’s only grand duchy. We’ve even seen the world change slightly, with Palestine replacing Kosovo on the list.

The project’s been featured in two national newspapers, on UNESCO’s list of World Book Day initiatives and on countless other blogs around the globe, from Romania to South Korea.

None of this would have been possible without you. From the many people who’ve suggested books, helped with research and even gone to bookshops in far-flung places on my behalf, to the kind folk who comment on, like, tweet and share posts, making all the early mornings and late nights worthwhile, you have kept me going. Thank you.

But it’s not over yet. Not by a long chalk. And some of the biggest challenges lie ahead.

There are 25 countries that I have yet to find any books for. These are:

  • Brunei
  • Central African Republic
  • Comoros
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Honduras
  • Kiribati
  • Liechtenstein
  • Madagascar
  • Mauritania
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Niger
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Qatar
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

There are also plenty of other countries on the list that could do with some more recommendations.

So I’m asking you – yes, you, sitting there reading this now – to help me again. Please tweet/share/email/discuss/create expressive dance routines about this project. Please look at the list and see if there are any countries you might be able to help find novels, short story collections or memoirs from.

Maybe you have friends or relatives there? Maybe someone you work with does? Or someone whose restaurant you eat in? Or that nice man you sit next to sometimes on the bus*? Perhaps you’re going on holiday there this summer or you found a blog by someone from there recently?

However you do it and however tenuous the connections seem, I’d love to hear about them. Let’s see what we can find between us.

*Please be sure before you engage him in conversation that he really is a nice man.

11 Responses to “HALFWAY APPEAL”

  1. Sue George said

    You may already have seen this, but on http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/publishing-portal/ there are links to some of the countries – St Vincent, Kiribati, Tuvalu, maybe more – you haven’t got books for. They have quotes from writers (probably poets in that country?) Anyway, it’s the basis for some more research…
    Re Monaco, I believe that was one of few countries from which the London Poetry event this summer couldn’t locate a poet. I imagine the same might apply to Lichtenstein (ultra rich tax exiles only?)

    • Thanks Sue. I hadn’t seen that – will have a look. Yes, Monaco is tricky. A friend of a friend grew up in Liechtenstein so I’m hoping she might be able to help with that but who knows – maybe I’ll have to go there and have someone tell me a story…

  2. Well, Apollinaire spent most of his childhood & formative years in Monaco with his mother and brother – does the count?
    Lots of Swiss expats in Liechtenstein, there is even a book listing Swiss authors residing in the principality.

    • Great thoughts – thanks MarinaSofia. I’ll look into these. Apollinaire sounds like a good one to hold in reserve in case I struggle to get a Monegasque national. Thanks for your help

  3. Mona said

    LIECHTENSTEIN
    I don’t know if a short story is substantial enough to be included in your project but Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2011 includes a story called “Dust” by Stefan Sprenger.
    A review is here: http://www.damiankelleher.com/drupal/review/stefan-sprenger-%E2%80%93-dust
    Interview with Sprenger is here: http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/info/?fa=text150
    Apparently, Sprenger believes there is no Liechtenstein literature but a colleague, Roman Banzer, disagrees. If the short story isn’t enough, maybe try contacting Banzer? This page has his email address at the University of Liechtenstein: http://www.eataw.eu/board/

    QATAR
    I couldn’t find any specific references to Qatari novelists, however I did come across a collection of pieces from Qatari writers that was published in English in 2010. http://www.bqfp.com.qa/page?a=54&lang=en-CA
    If this doesn’t work, then perhaps either of the editors of the collection or the publishers (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing) can help.

    SLOVAKIA
    Peter Pistanek is a Slovak writer and has had one book translated into English, Rivers of Babylon. Three Percent has a review here: http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=1000
    There’s also an interview (in which he talks about how very few – if any – of Slovak authors have had their work translated into English): http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=1000
    It’s available from the publisher, Garnet Press Books: http://eshop.qmul.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?catid=17&modid=1&compid=1

    While on the publisher website, I noticed that there are a few more Slovak selections, including two sequels to Rivers of Babylon and a book called Samko Tale’s Cemetery Book by Daniela Kapitánová.

    I hope this helps! :)

  4. I’ll be in Honduras within the next month or so. I’ll keep my eyes open and ask around about english translations if you are still looking for something from there… great project, great idea

  5. Paul said

    Hi,

    First, thanks so much for sharing your books. I just discovered your site this evening, and I’ll be sure to explore it thoroughly.

    Here’s a few suggestions; if you want more detailed bibliographical info or are interested in my own list, I’m at http://www.uoguelph.ca/~pkron/World_Book_Project/Welcome.html

    • Brunei: Dusun Folktales: A Collection of Eighty-eight Folktales in the Dusun Language of Brunei with English Translations –Compiled and translated from the Dusun language by Eva Maria Kershaw. Maybe outside the scope of what you’re looking for, but an interesting look into a very different culture, and the only Brunei book I could find.

    • Liechtenstein: A short story set in Liechtenstein, by a Liechtenstein author: Deep in the Snow by Mathias Ospelt , 2004 – Edition read: Short story in “Best European Fiction 2010″, edited by Aleksandar Hemon (I believe the 2011 edition may also have a story by a Liechtenstein author).

    • Micronesia, Federated States of: I have found several references to an anthology of short stories in production, edited by Dr. Evelyn Flores and Emelihter Kihleng. Apparently, this has not come out yet. Emelihter Kihleng has a book of poetry called “My Urohs” (I have not read it).

    • Monaco: Absolutely DO NOT read the Monaco book on my list (Zubrick’s Rock). It’s set in Monaco and was written by an American who lived there for several years, but it’s just not good. I am trying to find a substitute.

    • Mongolia: I enjoyed “The Blue Sky [Der blaue Himmel] by Galsan Tschinag, a fictionalized memoir (part of a trilogy, I believe).

    • Myanmar: “Smile As They Bow” by Nu Nu Yi is fun and shows a unique part of Burmese culture.

    Palau: There’s a very short traditional story available online at http://www.janesoceania.com/palau_storyboard/index.htm

    • Papua New Guinea: I’m about to start Vincent Eri’s “The Crocodile”, debatably the first novel by a citizen of this country.

    • Qatar: There are short stories in the anthology “Oranges in the Sun”. Not the greatest stories I’ve ever read, but Qatari content is hard to come by. I also read a children’s book called “Victory over Abu Derya: The Quest for Pearls in the Arabian Gulf”, which was a pretty basic educational story/picture book.

    San Marino: My great white whale. I am currently trying to translate a short story from Roberto Monti’s “il fatto che ancora non piova”. (I don’t read Italian, so it’s an adventure).

    • Slovakia: I heartily second the recommendation of Peter Pišt’anek. I loved “Rivers of Babylon”.

    • Tuvalu: I haven’t investigated this closely yet, but apparently the Australian George Lewis Becke lived in and wrote stories based in Tuvalu.

    I hope this helps!

    Paul

    • Great, thanks Paul. Some excellent leads there. I particularly like the sound of your Myanmar book. Do let me know any particular highlights for other countries – I’ve got some tough choices to make before the year is out. I’ll add your url to my blog roll.

      Re San Marino, there is apparently an Italian journalist living there who writes detective stories. Am on his trail at the moment – however your translation challenge sounds very exciting!

      Keep in touch and let me know how you get on.

      All the best
      Ann

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