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.

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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.

WorldBookProject – What’s coming and what’s missing

wbp  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!

WorldBookProject – Barbados, Burma and Iraq

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 LordRedemption 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 YiSmile 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 MamdouhMothballs

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.

WorldBookProject – Heute mal auf Deutsch

Ja, wirklich! (Regular reader, fear not. This is a one-off. Probably.)

In Oxfords eher unscheinbarem Vorort Headington gibt es vier reizende literaturbewanderte Damen, denen ich im August über einer Tasse Tee einen Blogpost auf Deutsch versprochen hatte. Daher der Sprachwechsel. Mein WeltBuchProjekt (ha, das macht auf Deutsch genauso viel oder wenig Sinn wie auf Englisch) lief in den letzten Wochen eher etwas ruhiger, da ich ja nach Algerien umgezogen bin. Nichtsdestotrotz hab ich es genossen, in die diversen Welten einzutauchen.

147 Germany: William Voltz – Der Terraner (Perry Rhodan Nr.1000)

Perry Rhodan ist ein Phänomen. Eine SciFi-Serie, die seit 1961 wöchentlich läuft, und der ich seit Sommer 1990 mal mehr, momentan eher weniger, regelmässig folge. Den Terraner hatte ich in den späten 90ern als ausgeborgten Heftroman (mit Originalautogramm) gelesen und geliebt, und brav zurückgegeben. Vor ein paar Wochen war der Roman im Sonderangebot als e-Buch erhältich, und … ist noch genauso komplex, humanistisch, fesselnd und gänsehauterzeugend wie vor 20 Jahren.

148 Latvia: Inga Ābele – The Horses of Atgazene Station

Vom Genre her war das Buch schwer einzuordnen, und demzufolge schon spannend. Prosa-poetische-Kurzgeschichtenaphorismenlyrik trifft es vermutlich am besten. Die Autorin reminisziert über ihre Kindheit, das Aufeinandertreffen von Generationen und Sichtweisen, und verliert sich dabei oft in Melancholie. Mir hat’s gefallen, aber es ist nix für schwermütige Wintertage.

149 Palestine: Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana – Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales

Ok, ich geb’s zu, ich mag Märchen. Nicht den rosa-getünchten Disney-Unfug, sondern von der Volksschnauze weg. So wie hier. Ich war überrascht, nicht wie brutal die Geschichten waren (das sind die Gebrüder Grimm auch), sondern wie derb der Umgangston war (ein Scheisserli ist da noch richtig nett). Sehr gut fand ich, dass der kulturelle Hintergrund und Kontext zu den Typen der Märchen gegeben wurde. Das Buch ist, auf Englisch, frei im Netz erhältlich.

WorldBookProject – Dipping into Corvids, History, and Art

The eagle-eyed among you might already have noticed that there’s a new feature on the blog: reading through the ages. Of course, WorldBookProject is still going on, but I’ve only just over 100 books / places left to read. Hence my idea of doing something really long-term once I’ve read all the territories on my list. For now, here are the books I’ve read for WBP in the second half of August.

144 First Nations: Joanne Arnott – the family of crow

Long-standing readers of this blog will be aware that I love birds, and corvids are a particular favourite of mine. So it’ll come as no surprise that I was happy to come across this neat collection of crow-related poems and art. It describes the life cycle of the birds in an artistic way and builds bridges that reach as far as Ancient China (http://www.chinese-poems.com/lb13.html). A gem.

145 Jordan: Suleiman Mousa – T.E. Lawrence: An Arab View

If you have a larger-than-life figure like Lawrence, it is really tricky to get through all the layers of legend (or lies) down to what might be called reality. The book did so when it came to all the battles and skirmishes (where Lawrence apparently managed to shoot his camel and knock himself unconscious). However, I still feel no connection to the person behind the sagas. But I do have the feeling that this book makes a better attempt to unravel the mystery than any try from Hollywood.

146 Qatar:  Sophia Al-Maria – Fresh Hell

Hm. Well. I don’t really know … This book was odd. Double pages where women spread their legs, followed by an artist explaining why this wasn’t pornography, were then followed by a poignant account of the horrors of the First Gulf War. Several of the essays and visual expressions connected the topic of oil, and the environmental and social disasters it brought with it. I’m not a very ‘arty’ person, but I agree that ‘survival is not sufficient‘ – and this book fits the bill.

 

WorldBookProject – Read Women and Women in Translation

About a year and a half ago, when I started my project to read the world, I had no idea about the imbalance in the translation of non-anglophone female/male writers.  Or indeed the imbalance between published male/female anglophone authors. Then I came across this blog post https://womenintranslation.com/ 58 and decided to look into my own reading habits. Since then I’ve tried to read an equal number of books by male and female authors (I have yet to find an author who identifies as non-binary).

So, how am I doing? Out of the 143 books I’ve read so far there were 58 books written by women (40%), 10 have mixed authorship (6%), and there was one book were the authors were unknown. That makes me look a lot better than the anglophone publishing industry, but there’s still some room for improvement.

141 Guadeloupe: Maryse Condé – I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem

This.Is.Mindblowingly.Good. It is also brutal, painful, and violent. The main themes are misogyny, racism, and religious hypocrisy. Still, I was drawn into the main character’s life and it was difficult to let go. I’ve since read another short story by the same author, and I’m eagerly looking forward to reading much more by her.

142 Philippines: Jessica Hagedorn (ed) – Manila Noir

I listened to these short stories as an audiobook. They were read by Tez Bois and Ramon De Ocampo. Both did a good job and made the gruesome stories come to life. Again, this was a book with a lot of (sexual) violence in it. However, and I think this is a hallmark of good short stories, they mostly had a really surprising twist. Quite a number also figured transgender characters, which was interesting.

143 Swaziland: Sarah Mkhonza – What the Future Holds

I really like a character in a story who does something not in line with tradition and gets away with it. This is not giving away the denouement – we as readers know this from the first chapter of this book. Which also might have not been the best idea on the part of the writer, but maybe this is because it’s a debut novel. Anyway, seeing the main character grow and grow up and fight for her identity and place in life made me really root for her. Again, this is another writer to explore further.