New year, new list

December 30, 2013

8329959687_cb402f96d6_b

This time last year I was preparing the final post of my Year of Reading the World: the 197th book review of the international reading project that took over my life in 2012. In the 12 months since then, I’ve been on many related adventures – from being invited to write and speak about what we got up to that year, to taking part in exciting events, workshops and initiatives to promote reading books from further afield.

What’s more, I’ve heard from many more readers and writers around the planet and continued to receive lots of intriguing book recommendations. Many of them have sounded so good that I knew I had to share them, so in the last few weeks I’ve spent time going through all the suggestions I’ve had in the last year and updated the list accordingly. Do check it out if you’re planning some literary travels or bookpacking in 2014.

Among the comments, I’ve been particularly pleased to receive suggestions for some of the countries that have very few entries – Fiji, Nepal, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Oman are all looking stronger thanks to recent additions and I’m especially intrigued by Veronica’s suggestion of Balys Sruoga’s Forest of the Gods for Lithuania, translated into English by the author’s granddaughter.

It’s also been great to have further tips for some of the most well-represented countries. We now have lots more recommendations of Indian literature written in languages other than English, especially Bengali stories. Hungary and Turkey are also looking formidable, and as several people have told me to read Bosnian writer Meša Selimović’s Death and the Dervish, I’m definitely going to have to give it a go.

As I found last year, there are growing mountains of titles that you feel should be translated into English but are not yet available. Romanian writer Dan Lungu’s Raiul găinilor is one such. According to Cristi, it has been translated into French and her description certainly makes it sound tempting:

‘It’s a novel about the small world of a street at the outskirts of a Romanian city, where people live only to be in the center of attention, and that makes them do whatever it takes to get the attention they crave. It’s immensely hilarious and benefits from the author’s sociological expertise.’

In addition to including your recommendations on the list, I’ve taken the liberty of sticking on some of the international titles I’ve been particularly impressed by recently, among them Jérôme Ferrari’s Where I Left My Soul, an astonishing glimpse inside the torture chambers of the Algerian War, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. Apart from featuring some rather misleading depictions of how quickly and easily blogs develop a following (the heroine’s Lagos blog picks up 1,000 unique visitors in a handful of days without any effort on her part – something most new blogs take weeks if not months and lots of publicising to achieve), this is one of the most insightful and engrossing things I’ve read all year.

It’s also been great to hear from many of the writers whose work I’ve read for this project – Michael Aubertin, Anna Kim, Samson Kambalu, Cecil Browne, Daniel Kelin, Glenville Lovell, Ak Welsapar, Marie-Therese Toyi and Philo Ikonya to name but a few. In fact I was delighted when Philo included one of my comments about Kenya Will You Marry Me? on the cover of her new book, Still Sings the NightbirdIt was also lovely to receive this comment from Ahmed:

‘Hi, Ms Morgan, I am from the tiny islands of Maldives. You chose one of the best books to read about our beliefs, culture and lifestyle. Just now informed Mr. Abdulla Sadiq of your choice. He was delighted. What a great idea!’

It made me smile to think that Abdulla Sadiq could know the influence his freely available translation of his homeland’s classic story Dhon Hiyala and Ali Fulhu has had on a random person on the other side of the world.

Finally, I’ve been delighted to hear from more of the growing army of world readers and book groups embarking on global projects around the planet. From those who’ve been going for years, to those who started yesterday and from those reading under all sorts of time, genre and setting constraints to those simply seeing what they can find, there seem to be more and more of us with every week that passes. This is testament to the extraordinary times we live in and can only be a good thing. I hope my list helps you navigate some of the rockiest terrain and look forward to updating it further as exciting new literary territory opens up for English-language readers around the globe.

Thanks again for all your interest and support. It continues to be a great encouragement as I settle down to write the final draft of Reading the World: Postcards from my bookshelf (published by Harvill Secker in 2015) in the coming weeks.

A very happy new year to you all. Watch this space.

Picture by Rakka

15 Responses to “New year, new list”

  1. Reblogged this on The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog and commented:
    I’m jealous of this blogger- she can pre-sort her entire year’s worth of reading!
    Some great choices on here

  2. Wish you a very happy new year…

  3. BookerTalk said

    I don’t know whether to groan or grin about the news there are more names of authors and titles now on your list. Groan because that means I get enticed to buy yet more books. Grin because I now have some more options for my own world lit challenge. But since its a new year and a time of celebration the grin won.

  4. Sahaphap said

    May this New Year brings you Immense happiness in all you do, May the fireworks brings you The sound of Victory in your ear, Wishing you happy New year.

  5. bhupinder said

    There is no way I can read all the books that you mention, but am reassured and glad to know that these works exist.

  6. Happy New Year to you too! I’ll check out your new book suggestions and see if they supersede any on my own ‘Reading the World’ journey; look like some fascinating options. I’ll be travelling through Middle East and China for much of 2014, whilst also working on Volume 2 of ‘Reading the World’ which should be out around June. http://www.readingtheworld.co.uk

    (PS: still chance to grab a free copy of ‘Reading the World’ volume 1 at: https://www.goodreads.com/…/18961513-reading-the-world)

  7. So glad to have found your blog and your bookpack. Thank you!

  8. Jetendra said

    Amazing, Good For You :)

  9. Looks like an exciting 2014 for literary nomads! “Reading the World volume 1″ is featuring in lots of local papers (see below) as well as 3 local BBC stations and even Thai TV this Sunday (will post a link to the Thai feature on my facebook page ‘Reading the World’ when it goes live).

    Cheers all who have bought a copy from Amazon so far and congrats to the winner of the free copy (who is from Greece)!

    http://www.hertsad.co.uk/news/st_albans_author_goes_around_the_world_from_the_comfort_of_his_armchair_1_3172829

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,416 other followers

%d bloggers like this: