Anyone have a time machine going spare?


I’ve just checked my first post and discovered I wrote it on July 20th 2006. Horror of all horrors! I wanted to read 100 books from 100 different countries in a year…which means I now have 3 months to read around 75 books. But all is not lost – today is April 19th, so I have 62 days left to complete my challenge which means all I have to do is read 1.2 books a day and I’ll make it! All I have to do now is build my time machine and I’ll be well away.

Now onto the serious stuff – how, HOW, have I only read 25 books from 25 countries so far? I know I doubled up on some of the countries, and I also know that some books were so monstrously large and took so long to read that I fell behind. I suspect the real reason is all those books I don’t tell you about on here, or the ones that I do write about on here but don’t count towards my reading challenge. Last week for example, I was so enchanted with Little Boy Lost, I ran straight out and got another Persephone book – Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day – from the library and devoured that. I will concede it was enjoyable, not as much so as I had hoped, but if I want to meet my own challenge, I may have been better off reading something else. Over Christmas I read several Chinese books I didn’t mention on here, and now I come to think of it, reading books that do not count towards my challenge has been something of a theme lately. Oops.

So – dear, dear readers – I need your help. You can find a list of the countries I have read books from here. I would love your suggestions for any short books you know from any countries I have not yet visited (if I can read them in one day so much the better). I’m going to stop reading books that will not count towards my challenge. Although…Pedro Paramo is waiting for me in the library and I really really want to read it – but I already read Carlos Fuentes who can count towards Mexico, and I also have Octavio Paz on my shelf who is Mexican. I must be strong! I will send it back unread. I will read it after July 20th!

Anyway, all suggestions welcome. Even if you don’t know any books that I can read quickly from other countries, send me good luck wishes! I’m going to need them…

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Anyone have a time machine going spare?

  1. Nyssaneala

    Ok, here are some of my suggestions, but I think you’re doing really well, irregardless of meeting your goal that’s still an achievement!

    1. Lots of books by Paulo Coehlo – Brazil. Many of them are short.
    2. Kaddish for a Child Not Born – Imre Kertesz. Was Hungary already on your list?
    3. Katherine Mansfield’s short stories – New Zealand
    4. Apples from the Desert: Selected Stories by Savyon Liebrecht (Israel)
    5. The Mango Season – Amulya Malladi (India). A quick read, nothing great, but not terrible. I could recommend tons more Indian authors that are better, but they all seem to write epics. 🙂
    6. I, Rigoberta Menchu (Guatemala), it’s non-fiction, but I think it’s an easy book to get through. Very good.

    I hope that gives you an idea or two?

  2. Nyssaneala

    One more…

    Metamorphosis or The Trial by Franz Kafka (Austria). The Trial is only about 50 pgs!

  3. The Traveller

    Great suggestions, thanks! Definitely three or four I’ll look up from those, and I may have to substitute my planned read for Brazil for a Coelho. I have The Alchemist on my shelf actually, perhaps I’ll revisit it!

  4. Bookgirl

    What are you doing blogging – you need to be reading! 🙂

    Okay I have two from Japan that I’d recommend if you haven’t read them already. Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura and Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. Both are pretty short, very different stories but both are powerful.

  5. Imani

    Ooo, I second the Sputnik Sweetheart suggestion.

    1. Wide Sargasso Seas – Jean Rhys (Dominica)
    2. Pretty much any McGahern novel, they’re all quite short (Ireland)
    3. Chess – Stefan Zwieg (Austria)
    4. Ficciones or Dreamtigers – Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)
    5. Life & Times of Michael K or Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee (South Africa)
    6. The Stone Angel – Margaret Laurence (Canada)

    Good luck!! Don’t be too hard on yourself though–you could always extend it to two years.

  6. Imani

    Ok, I have another one. Black Sunlight or The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe). The first is especially tiny at just over 120 pages (in my edition, a slim paperback).

  7. rozmarins

    I didn`t see any book from Russia on your finished book list. You may try Vladimir Nabokov (“Lolita” would be too long for this case, but he has short stories) or Anthon Chekhov (he wrote interesting sotries and plays, there are some works at Gutenberg, for example his diary). There are lots of other Russian writers, if you can find them in your library.

  8. Bybee

    If you’d like, I could send you a South Korean novella.

  9. Dark Orpheus

    You have your whole life to read, so why not just try your best and have fun. No need to panic 😉

    Off the top of my head, wondering if I have any recommendations:

    1) Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is a Persian writer educated in the United Kingdom and the United States. She now lives in France. Have you tried Saddlebag or Paper?

    2) Turkey – besides Orhan Pamuk, there’s Yasar Kemal, Elif Shafak, Irfan Orga, Bilge Karasu

    3) Russia – besides the Tolstoy, Dostoevsky & Chekhov – there is contemporary Russian author Ludmilla Ulitskaya

    4) Norway – Sigrid Undset, Knut Hamsun

    5) Canadian – Robertson Davies – The Rebel Angels – hilarious, thoughtful, and a celebration of learning. Or Ann-Marie MacDonald

    6) Romesh Gunesekera – I think he’s Sri Lankan

    7) Tibet – Red Poppies by Alai

    8) Hong Kong – I’m reluctant to consider Hong Kong as a part of China – they have a distinct culture of their own, like Taiwan. No one interested in contemporary Chinese Lit should ever neglect the wuxia genre: Louis Cha. I really believe he is the Dickens or Dumas equivalent of Chinese Literature – popular fiction of literary significance that will continue to be read long after we’re dead.

    Oxford Hong Kong has some of his works translated into English by John Minford. The Deer and the Cauldron & The Book and the Sword.

    9) Burma/Myanmar: From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe

    10) Bosnia – Death and the Dervish by Mesa Selimovic. I admit, I found him heavy going – but has a sort of Kafkaesque quality to it.

  10. The Traveller

    Amazing suggestions everyone, thanks! I have reseved a couple of books already from your recommendations and will doubtless be looking out more by the time Wednesday rolls around. It’s payday!

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