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 ( 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 – Island Hopping

WorldBookProject has taken me to many unexpected places, but this time I went to some extraordinary corners of the world. I had some kind of map with me almost all the time while reading these books. Quick overview: Guernsey is in the Channel (between France and Great Britain), the French Southern Lands are also known as the Crozet Islands and  Kerguelen Islands in the Southern Ocean south of the Indian Ocean, Heard Island is just around the corner from there, and Mauritius is in the Indian Ocean.

Many thanks to Aran and her friends from Slovakia who organised the Mauritius book for me.

129 Bailiwick of Guernsey: Diana Bachmann –  A Sound like Thunder

Generally, I like reading historical fiction, and a book set around 1930 to 1945 should make for a gripping/haunting read. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite deliver to my mind. I found the characters way too stereotypical and the plot too soap-opera-like. Having said that, I thought the author managed very well to convey the feeling of utter despair people on the island must have felt after the Allied landing in Normandy  when Guernsey was left in Nazi-German hands for another year. The book is the first part of a trilogy.

130 French Southern and Antarctic Lands: H.W. Tilman – Mischief among the penguins

Mischief, who would have thought, was the name of a sailing ship, and the author its skipper. Together with a handful of male companions (women were not allowed) they sailed from England to the Kerguelen islands and back. I learned a lot of sailing vocabulary, but I still don’t know really what a gybe is (only that it’s bad). I don’t like people who slaughter penguins, but the sailors’ sense of adventure was brilliant. And I unexpectedly met the skipper again in book 132.

131 Mauritius: Ramesh Ramdoyal – Tales from Mauritius 

The stories offered insights into the lives of the communities of fishermen and their families, and also some background on the island’s history, such as slavery. With most of them, you could always see an invisible finger telling you how to behave. It was rather moralising at times. However, a lot of the tales had an unexpected creepy twist or a funny bit, which reminded me somewhat of Roald Dahl’s stories. There’s a second part, More Tales from Mauritius, which I’ll read in good time.

132 Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands: Philip Temple – The Sea And The Snow: How we reached and climbed a volcano at the ends of the Earth

Like book 130, this was the account of an expedition, and as mentioned above, the skipper was the same, albeit on a different ship. This time, the blokes (again, no women) went to Heard Island to climb the local volcano. It was impressive to read how they dealt with all that Antarctic nature threw at them. Less impressed was I by their careless attitude towards the environment, something the author acknowledged in the 50th anniversary edition which I read. I really liked the openness and honesty of the writer – how people behaved and how they dealt with the psychological stress on top of the physical exhaustion. And I think this must have been the very first expedition I read about which contained descriptions of relieving yourself overboard or in freezing conditions on a mountain slope.