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.
Yup, I’m in the middle of the 3rd year of reading my way around the world, and it’s still highly exciting because I’ve again made some rather unexpected discoveries (bookwise). The equality count at the moment: 163 books read, 69 by female authors, 11 with mixed authorship and one unknown writer.
159 Brazil: Socorro Acioli – The Head of the Saint
This was great fun! It’s a children’s book or YA, but still. The author put her finger exactly where it hurts when talking about bigotry in religious establishment, people’s gullibility and corruption. I need to read more by her.
160 Indonesia: Dee Lestari – Paper Boats
Again some YA here, but this one wasn’t my cup of tea. Too many convenient coincidences and way too much beating around the bush or silence between the characters.
161 Vatican: Pope Francis – ENCYCLICAL LETTER ‘LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME
As an atheist, I was more than surprised how very much in agreement I found myself with the Pope on the matters he wrote about. The encyclical deals with environmental problems, where those are coming from, and makes suggestions what to do about them. I also hadn’t expected the almost scientific language of the letter. The flowery bits were kept to the paragraphs about biblical verses and prayers. I have to say, I wish more people would listen to him and do more for our planet.
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.
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.
On the picture are some of the titles which I hope to read in the coming weeks. On my e-reader, I have started with Cameroon, and Brazil, Haiti, Vatican, Antarctica and Kazakhstan are ready to go.
I’m still looking for suggestions for the following places:
Central African Republic, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bisseau, Honduras, Maldives, Mauritania, Monaco, Nauru, Niger, Palau, Panama, Moldova, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Kurdistan, Mayotte, Netherland Antilles, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Island, Reunion.
Please leave a comment if you know of a good book by an author from one of these places. Thanks!
It’s been quite a while since I last blogged about my reading adventures. Learning French was/is a priority and on top of that, there’s of course work and a different daily routine. I also have “only” about 100 territories left to read, for some of which it’s really tricky to find anything, e.g. Monaco and San Marino. If you’ve got any suggestions, please leave a comment.
150 Barbados: Karen Lord – Redemption in Indigo
A few years ago, I read another book by Lord which I really enjoyed so I was glad to find her debut novel. It didn’t disappoint! Laugh-out-loud funny and occasionally terribly sad, I was intrigued by everything: the main female character, the cultural aspects, the magic, the way things connected with each other. Looking forward to reading more by her.
151 Burma: Nu Nu Yi – Smile as they Bow
Here, I’m sitting on the fence. The characters were certainly exciting, especially since there seems to be so little representation of LGBT+ in mainstream publishing and translation. However, I found it difficult to connect to the story because it was so loud. The descriptions of dancing and singing crowds at the festivals were just too realistic, whereas I prefer quiet.
152 Iraq: Alia Mamdouh – Mothballs
This again was a book which left me in two minds. I think, in my late teens or early twenties I’d have liked the story and in particular the narrator. Here and now, for the most part it left me shrugging my shoulders. What’s more, the change in narration from ‘I’ to ‘you’ was quite confusing for me. But I think if a reader likes this kind of challenge they would experience a unique insight into a girl’s life in mid-20th century Baghdad.