WorldBookProject – Suriname, Uzbekistan, Curaçao

Yep, still reading and still posting. The books in this post were all sponsored by my parents – thank you 🙂 . On the nightstand at the moment are Kazakhstan and Antarctica.

171 Suriname: Surinam by Cynthia McLeod

I thought this was a fascinating historical insight into that particular part of Suriname’s history, especially the relationship between Jewish and Christian settlers. However, there was not enough voice given to the slaves but too much white perspective. On the whole, a somewhat flawed page-turner with good female characters.

172 Uzbekistan: The Devil’s Dance by Hamid Ismailov

This book requires undivided attention with its immersive frame story and core story, which become more and more intertwined as you read on. The mix of Stalinist prison with kings and queens and all the murderous plots are captivating and gruesome. Even more so, when you remember that the main character actually lived through this (although I don’t know how much artistic freedom the writer made use of).

173 Curaçao: Doppeltes Spiel by Frank Martinus Arion

I’m not a fan of dominoes, so this book had a slow and awkward start – a story about a day when four friends meet for a game. Having said that, the pace picked up a few chapters in and it turned out to be immensely enjoyable and gripping. You’ve got to read all through the end to understand the dedication to ‘brave women who fight’, and it’s totally worth it, I think.

WorldBookProject – Bahrain, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay

Reading the world has been exciting from the word go. However, sometimes there’s a book which is particularly gripping and keeps haunting me long after I finished it. And every now and then, there’s a book which really isn’t my cup of tea. In this blog post, I’m writing about both kinds of book. On my nightstand at the moment are Uzbekistan and Antarctica (still). Thanks to my parents who sponsored all three countries 🙂 !

168 Bahrain: Yummah by Sarah A. Al Shafei

The basic premise of the book (child marriage and a resulting life story) was good. However, sometimes really odd writing was off-putting, e.g. people ‘screamed’ very often and the only thing important seemed to be a beautiful woman with a rich husband. Better editing help might have been a very good idea for this inexperienced writer. I felt this book was a missed chance.

169 Equatorial Guinea: La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

I first heard about this book on www.ayearofreadingtheworld.com and was glad when it finally appeared in English translation. What a read! It is basically an exploration of gay people’s lives in the traditional Fang society. I started reading it while sitting in a dentist’s waiting room and was halfway through by the time the anaesthesia had worn off. The ending was a bit rushed, but apart from that it’s one of the best books I’ve read for this project so far.

170 Paraguay: Die Nacht der treibenden Feuer by Augusto Roa Bastos

Another book which is still haunting me! This collection of short stories managed to draw me into its pages from the very first sentence. The jungle, the river, the mid-day heat on the fields – and then invariably something horrible would happen. I had to take a break after each story because it was so nerve-wracking. Still, I’d love to read much more by the author who was a master of catching his readers and characters alike.

Dinosaur of the week: Common Linnet

linnet

This Linaria cannabina was perching in the dunes of Dunkirk in France. The species is in decline because of ‘the intensification of agriculture, resulting in destruction of hedgerows, improved harvesting of cereals, and the eradication of fallow and weedy fields through application of herbicides‘.

The bird is also commonly mentioned in popular culture, e.g. mentioned by Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde. Thanks to the people on birdforum.net for their help with the ID.

WorldBookProject – Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan

You hadn’t thought I’d given up on reading the world now, had you? Yes, it is going slower than in the first two years, but I’m ploughing on and keep making great discoveries. Some stats: the current count overall is 167 out of 257 books, and 71 of these were written by female authors, 11 by a mixed team and one book didn’t name an author.

165 Saudi Arabia: Daring to Drive: My Life as an Accidental Activist in a Kingdom of Men by Manal Al-Sharif

This book is an autobiography written by someone who hasn’t much experience of the craft, but her story makes more than up for it. If you thought that the KSA was kind of a hellhole for women, here several new circles of hell are added to the equation.

166 Taiwan: Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin

While listening to the audiobook version of this story I found it somewhat tricky to follow the many characters. I think it might have been better to read the printed version. Content-wise, I felt with the Crocodiles of the story. It’s good to see that Taiwan has now legalised same-sex marriage.

167 Kenya: Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Revolution! This book is a call to arms and takes a broad aim: colonialism, sexual predation, big money, tribalism, corruption, religion and the list isn’t finished. It’s not exactly subtle in its stance but not without a sense of humour. The denouement came as a surprise to me and the heroine of the story … , well, read for yourself.

And what’s coming next? I’m in the middle of Bahrain, Antarctica and Kazakhstan and just got a big present from my parents including Uzbekistan, Paraguay and Equatorial Guinea. Thank you 🙂 .

WorldBookProject – Brunei, Djibouti and Estonia

August is #WomeninTranslation or #WITmonth. However, before I start reading my choice for Bahrain here’s what I’ve read recently in my quest to explore the world through books.

162 Brunei Darussalam: Amir Falique – B.I.S.A. Eventually

This very short spy-novel was totally bonkers. Which is not bad, but it was also riddled with errors both linguistically and logically. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll read any other books in this series.

163 Djibouti: Abdourahman Waberi – In the United States of Africa

Imagine a world where Africa is the ruling power of the planet. Europe and North America are ravaged by wars, poverty and epidemics. I found the premise of the book fascinating. What I found quite difficult to cope with was the fact that the story was written in the second person. So this ‘You did …’ created so much distance to the main character that it was more like reading a report of an experiment with an expected outcome.

164 Estonia: Indrek Hargla – Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St Olaf’s Church

This again was a book with a noticeable numbers of errors, probably down to sloppy editing. Having said that, it was great to dive into the history of the Hanseatic League and of Tallinn. I enjoyed following Melchior and the other protagonists trying to solve several murders. Hopefully, I’ll get to read more of them in the other books in the series in due course.

WorldBookProject – Cape Verde, Haiti and Singapore

Work keeps me busy and I find it tough to focus on anything longer than your average newspaper article or half an hour here and there for an audiobook. So when I’m reading a book which isn’t totally gripping things take even longer, as for instance with my choice for Haiti. As for an update on the equality count: 158 books read, 67 written by female authors, 11 with mixed authorships and one with unknown authors. That also means 99 places left to read.

156 Cabo Verde: Germano Almeida – Das Testament des Herrn Napumoceno

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book in German, and I kind of enjoyed the linguistic experience of a sentence being half a page long. Luckily, the book was less than 200 pages. To begin with, it was a quite sarcastic story but sadly lost its bite in the final third of the book. It did raise some interesting questions about relationships and what we can actually know about other people, though.

157 Haiti: Marie Vieux-Chauvet – Love, Anger, Madness

This book has been showered with praise but I’m at a loss to see why. I found parts two and three utterly contrived and artifical. It might be because I’ve really had enough books about dictators and violence and experiencing the destruction of everything you love.

158 Singapore: Balli Kaur Jaswal – Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

This was easily the best out of the three books in this post. It was great fun although it dealt with some harrowing topics like child marriage and honour killings. I liked the main character, perhaps because I’m a teacher too and I’ve also heard some rather odd stories about my students’ lives.

WorldBookProject – Cameroon, Liberia, Tunisia

This is an all-African post, and two out of the three books were very exciting. Being an economic migrant myself, these stories tend to provide lots of opportunities for reflection. And at the end of the day, I see that I’ve been very lucky in my life.

153 Cameroon: Imbolo Mbue – Behold the Dreamers

This was a great story about the clash of living in Cameroon vs the USA, poor vs rich, male vs female. Although a wee bit lengthy and borderline preachy at times, I really enjoyed reading the book, mostly because there were some unexpected turns of events.

154 Liberia: Helene Cooper – The House at Sugar Beach

An amazing autobiography! I learned a lot about Liberian history, from its founding by freed slaves to fairly recent events just before the turn of the century. I thought the author has a wonderful sense of humour and shows a lot of self-awareness, so the story is about her, but equally about her surroundings and family members. Even though some of the events she describes are right out of the human abyss, I always wanted to continue reading.

155 Tunisia: Sabiha al Khemir – The Blue Manuscript

Right. Well, not really. I can’t say I hated the book because it was so boring. But it had been so promising! Archaeological excavations in Egypt, a group of mixed characters in a confined space, a mysterious manuscript … what more could you want? Now, I want characters that are defined by more than the same adjective throughout the book. I want archaeologists that don’t stare dreamily into the hot air when their excavation site has been tinkered with. And I most certainly don’t want the author to tell me what to think, thank you very much.