Thanks for all the nominations for books from places and peoples not on my main list. After 376 votes, the winner of the Rest of the World poll is The Man in Blue Pyjamas by Jalal Barzanji from Kurdistan. See below for the full results.


  • 34.57% Kurdistan Jalal Barzanji The Man in Blue Pyjamas – a literary memoir by a journalist imprisoned and tortured under Saddam Hussein’s regime
  • 30.05% Catalonia Jaume Cabré Winter Journey – a collection of interlinked short stories (first published in 2001) based on the structure of a Schubert song cycle
  • 13.3% Faroe Islands Heðin Brú The Old Man and His Sons – a novel depicting the transformation of the fishing industry, voted ‘Book of the 20th Century’ by the Faroese
  • 10.9% Native America Louise Erdrich The Round House – a novel about racial injustice, which won the US National Book Award in November 2012
  • 7.98% Basque Country Bernardo Atxaga Seven Houses in France – a historical novel (first published in 2009) about a French army captain who sets out to make his fortune in the jungles of Congo
  • 3.2% Bermuda Brian Burland The Sailor and the Fox – a 1973 novel about the island’s first ever mixed-race prizefight by one of Bermuda’s most notable and controversial writers


  • Antarctic Captain Robert Falcon Scott / Ernest Shackleton South / Apsley Cherry-Garrard The Worst Journey in the World
  • Basque Country Bernardo Atxaga Seven Houses in France  
  • Bermuda Brian Burland The Sailor and the Fox
  • British Virgin Islands Jennie Wheatley Pass it On! A Treasury of Virgin Island Tales
  • Canary Islands Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa Tuareg
  • Catalonia Jaume Cabré Winter Journey
  • Faroe Islands Heðin Brú The Old Man and His Sons
  • Guam Evelyn Flores Dolphin Day
  • Indigenous Aboriginal Australia Doris Pilkington Follow the Rabbit-proof Fence
  • Kurdistan Ava Homa Echoes from the Other Land / Jalal Barzanji The Man in Blue Pyjamas
  • Martinique Mayotte Capecia I am a Martinican WomanThe White Negress
  • Mayan Culture Anon Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya
  • Native America Louise Erdrich The Round House / David Treuer Rez Life
  • No Country ed Paul Gubbins Star in a Night Sky: an anthology of Esperanto literature
  • Niue John Pule Burn my Head in Heaven
  • Pitcairn Islands Rowan Metcalfe Transit of Venus
  • Puerto Rico Ana Lydia Vega / Edgardo Rodríguez Julia The RenunciationCortijo’s WakeSan Juan: Memoir of a City
  • Saint Martin Lasana M Sekou Love Songs Make You CryBrotherhood of the Spurs
  • Somaliland Nadifa Mohammed Black Mamba Boy

59 Responses to “Rest of the world”

  1. alua said

    The wildcard’s for anything? Maybe something Basque? Will ask my Basque friends for recommendations.

  2. markbooks said

    My vote goes for ‘The Old Man And His Sons’ – a fantastic book. What about St Kilda – Karin Altenberg’s Orange-longlisted ‘Island Of Wings’ is worth a read…

    • londonchoirgirl said

      Thanks Mark. ‘Island Of Wings’ is a bit of a puzzler for me as although it’s set in St Kilda Karin Altenberg herself seems to be Swedish, which would file it under Swedish literature in my book. What do you reckon?

  3. Re3ecca said

    Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe is a great Nigerian book, and I really want to read Let the Right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Swedish) It’s supposed to be great!

    • londonchoirgirl said

      Thanks Rebecca. I love the Achebe too. I’ll add the Lidqvist to the main list – this one’s for places not represented on that.

      • Sharanya said

        Anything by Chimamanda Adichie? She’s a Nigerian author too, but massively under-read when compared to Achebe. It’s quite easy to find her, and she has three titles to her name.

        I was looking at the Pakistani authors, and I’d say Kamila Shamsie (Kartography, Broken Verses) and Farooqi’s latest (Between Clay and Dust) are immensely better and fairly under-read when compared to Mohsin Hamid and Mueenuddin perhaps. But that’s just my opinion :)

      • Thanks Sharanya. Yes I’ve read Adichie in the past, which is why she’s not on the main list at the moment. I’ll add your Pakistani suggestions to the other list, although I have just read my Pakistani choice – post coming soon.

        Thanks very much for stopping by – and if you have any ‘Rest of the World’ suggestions, do let me know…

  4. willettk said

    Does this extend to Antarctica, which has no native or permanent inhabitants? If so, South (by Ernest Shackleton) and The Worst Journey in the World (by Apsley Cherry-Garrard) are two of the best polar books I’ve ever read.

    • londonchoirgirl said

      Very interesting. I think that’s one to throw out to the crowd. Is it possible to have literature from a country where there are no native or permanent inhabitants? Would love to know what others think…

  5. ealexp said

    My vote goes to Somaliland, though I don’t have a book suggestion for you! But I did find this interesting piece about the Hargeisa literary festival:

  6. Tony said

    I second ‘The Old Man and His Sons’ – not that I’ve read it yet, but I’ll be doing so very soon :)

  7. For Reunion Island there are very few books about Reunion written in English.

    Books I haven’t read myself:
    – Reunion: An Island in Search of an Identify by Laurent Medea
    – Monsters and Revolutionaries: Colonial Family Romance and Metissage by Françoise Verges
    (both the above are Social Science books, not novels, but are written by locals).
    – Island Awakening by Lynne Martin (romance).
    – Bourbon Island by Appollo & Lewis Trondheim (graphic novel)
    – ISLAND BORN of FIRE: Volcano Piton de la Fournaise by Dr Robert B. Trombley

    Books I’ve read myself:
    – Crags and Craters: Rambles in the Island of Reunion by William Dudley Olivier (this is my favourite of the three).
    – The Last Colony: An Experience of Reunion Island by Michael Steane (an e-book but full of inaccuracies)
    – Six Months in Reunion: A Clergyman’s Holiday, and How He Passed it by Patrick Beaton (didn’t like this much).
    I’ve written reviews of the above 3 books:

    Unfortunately as far as I know there’s no English translations of books that are well-known on Reunion from authors like Daniel Vaxelaire or Axel Gauvin, although the latter’s books have been translated into German.

  8. […] countries as she can, sampling one book from every nation. (She’s also recently included a Rest of The World wildcard section, hence our exchange about Reunion Island). However as she asked herself: what […]

  9. Tim Owen said

    For capturing that feeling of “world literature” in a single book, how about considering “Star in a Night Sky – an Anthology of Esperanto Literature” by Paul Gubbins? It contains a little bit of everything, from poetry and short stories to extracts from novels, contributions from authors spanning the globe.

    There’s more information including interviews with the author here.

  10. Try and get a hold of: Half of A Yellow Sun, There Was A Country, Things Fall Apart and Like Water For Chocolate, they are amazing to read…will nominate more soon…if it is allowed.

    • Thanks very much – yes I’ve read all these except for ‘There Was A Country’ before. They are good. However this list is for countries not on my main list – it is for countries that are disputed territories or associated states, things like that (see above). If you have recommendations for those countries, I’d love to hear them

  11. Alex said

    What about Diego Marani’s Last of the Vostyachs or Las Adventures des Inspector Cabillot? Both placeless and unofficial/unreal languages.

  12. Carol said

    A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khalid Hosseini (fiction); takes place in Afghanistan

    Border Passage – Leila Ahmed (non-fiction); takes place in Egypt

    The Shoemaker’s Wife – Adriana Trigiani (fiction); takes place in the Italian Alps

  13. Malazada said

    Discover an old new world with Mr Jalal Barzanji and his book: The Man in Blue Pajamas to know how Kurdistan people were patient under the Saddam’s regime.

  14. severalfourmany said

    Patrick Chamoiseau is an extraordinary writer from Martinique. He is one of the most original and unique writers in the French language. His novels Texaco and Solibo magnifique paint a vivid picture of his native island. Worth reading even if they are not on The List.

  15. Pál said

    I suggest Transylvania : )
    Herta Müller: The Fox Was the Hunter plays directly there.

  16. djgarcia94 said

    I’ll be taking a Russian literature class next semester. That should be interesting, but I guess Russian is just the tip of the iceberg for someone who’s literally read books from everywhere. Reading works by every Nobel Prize in Literature laureate would be an intriguing challenge.

  17. KK said

    Hi, what about literature from Kosovo? I miss it on lists, but I can check if there are some novels available in English.

  18. Maria said

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m just amazed! That’s the project I’d always wanted to do, I’m really looking forward to check your recommendations!
    My suggestions:
    Catalonia: any Jaume Cabre’s work, but specially “Voices of Pamano”
    Basque country: Bernardo Atxaga “Obabakoak”, in my opinion much better that “Seven houses in France”
    Galicia: The Carpenter’s Pencil, by Manuel Rivas (or have a look at

    Thanks for your blog!

  19. Felix said

    Just wanted to say I love the project you’ve been doing! As someone almost purely raised on American literature with some British literature thrown in here and there, I’m very impressed with the blog you’ve created.

    Being very interested in minority languages and cultures of Europe, I wanted to mention that the Lesser Languages Series which published the Esperanto Anthology you have listed here also published anthologies of Bretagne, Manx and Galician literature, as well as one on the Norman dialects of the Channel Islands. They plan to release one in the near future focusing on literature in the Ladino language as well.

    In Eastern Germany, there’s a small ethnic group of Slavs called the Sorbs, or Lusatians, with their own language. It so happens that the British Library in London has the greatest collection of Sorbian literature and writing in the world if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know much about their literary history myself, other than that there is a history, albeit small. But if you wanted another very small language and culture to extend your list, there’s one to look into.

    Anyway, best of luck in discovering more world literature!

    • Marvellous – thanks Felix. Yes, minority language groups are fascinating, aren’t they? I think there are some 7,000 in the world – and more than 800 of those are in Papua New Guinea alone. I’ve never heard of Ladino or the Sorbs. Great to have a heads up about them.

  20. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Abkhazia: while the little republic is not going to get international diplomatic recognition (other than by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela) any time soon, they have at least one well known author, Fazil Iskander. Quite a few of his books are available in English translation, too.

  21. Kari said

    Very late, but what about Tibet? Or people-in-exile?

    • Thanks. Quite a few of the books I read during my project were by exiled writers. Tibet would certainly have been a fascinating one. I wonder what Tibetan literature in English people would recommend…

  22. Amber Nikolaevna said

    You should definitely check out A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. It’s set in Chechnya. It is by far the most incredible book I have ever read. It brought me to tears.

  23. Sharon said

    Hi Anna,

    I came across your blog by accident while browsing the net and I just wanted to say this is such a great and inspiring undertaking!

    Best of luck for your next literary endeavor :)


  24. PcHelp said

    Great Idea!Which Albanian writer book did you read?

  25. izabelski said

    I was wondering if you read any novels by Tibetan authors. I am looking for some recommendations.

  26. hwdp said

    I could recomend ‘Siberian Education’ by Nicolai Lilin. The author is from the mostly unrecognised state of Transnistria in Eastern Europe.

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