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The World Party Challenge List

April 24, 2010

For the past few days, I’ve had all of these blog posts half-writing themselves in my head, but there’s many a slip between thought and fingers, and I haven’t actually gotten around to typing them out. Instead, I suddenly burst out of my reading slump and have been gobbling up pages, in between spending a long overdue day with my best friend here in the Springs. The good news is that my ideas have actually had some time to ferment, so next week should be a fun blogging one for me! :)

I’ve already told y’all I’m joining the World Party Challenge. But I didn’t provide a reading list! And after Jill threw down in her challenge post, that’s simply unacceptable. ;) So here’s what I came up with!

May: a Communist country, past or present, of your choosing
Oh Jill, don’t do that to me! With my background, I’m only supposed to choose ONE Communist country?! I just couldn’t do it. So I compiled lists for a few, and we’ll see what mood strikes me in a month.
Laos: The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (first in a mystery by a British author who lives in Laos featuring a Laos detective) or Hmong Means Free by Sucheng Chan (memoir by a Laos immigrant to America)
Cuba: The Boys From Dolores by Patrick Symmes (a group biography Castro’s schoolmates; if I enjoy this, I’ll definitely pick up his book on Che), Take Me With You by Carlos Frias (Frias is American-born to Cuban parents, and this is his travelogue about finally getting to visit Cuba as journalist in 2006), or Days of Awe by Achy Obejas (I enjoyed a different novel by Obejas last year, so I’d like to read more of her)
Ukraine: Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles (a novel about mail-order brides; in one of my Russian classes, we watched a documentary about a Russian mail order bride and it was fascinating), Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (his nonfiction work Eating Animals impressed me so much that now I want to read everything he’s written), The Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko (a novel about Chernobyl by a Ukrainian-American)

June: Liberia
My library, and I think American books in general, is severely lacking in Liberian options. At least, books actually written by Liberians. It only had one; I had to put an ILL request in for the novel, and I cross all of my fingers and toes that it would show up (not that many libraries own it). Fortunately it did! So I’ll be reading Murder in the Cassava Patch by Bai T. Moore. I’m also eyeing The House at Sugar Beach by Helen Cooper, to give me even more insight.

July: Rwanda
As if Liberia, colonised by Americans and thus English-speaking, wasn’t difficult enough to find literature from, Rwanda has to be a francophone country! Not to mention, it’s almost inevitable that everything my library had was about the genocide. :( I’ve already read an amazing book about that (We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Shall be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch), and I haven’t really felt the need to read more on the topic. That being said, I’m including a fiction book set during the genocide, Broken Memory by Elisabeth Combres and two nonfiction books that discuss the larger region: Africa’s World War by Gerald Prunier and The Great Lakes of Africa by Jean-Pierre Chretien.

August: New Zealand
You know, I thought about finding some new-to-me Kiwi authors, but instead I’d rather explore more of authors that I’ve read before. So, depending on how the mood strikes me, I’ll go for the classic with Katherine Mansfield or the contemporary with Lloyd Jones (I’ve got my eye on his nonfiction Albanian travelogue Biografi) or Elizabeth Knox (I’m thinking Billie’s Kiss sounds most appealing).

September: any Native American tribe
I’d love to read more of Sherman Alexie (I’m working through his backlist, so I’m not sure where I’ll be by September) or Thomas King (The Truth about Stories: a Native Narrative has a marvelous title!). The Translation of Dr. Apelles by David Truer or The Indian Lawyer by James Welch sound great if I want to try out a new writer. But I can’t leave out the women writers! Diane Glancy has several interesting sounding novels, particularly Stone Heart : a Novel of Sacajawea and The Reason for Crows.

October: India
I’ve read and loved all sorts of Indian authors! :) To narrow it down, I decided to go for Indian women, and then I further narrowed it down with one author I already know I enjoy and a new-to-me one. I adored Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us when I read it years ago, and I’ve been meaning to read more ever since. Bombay Time sounds interesting, since most of the Indian fiction I read is set in different regions. I’ve heard good things about Anita Desai for some time now…Fasting, Feasting has caught my eye, but I’m open to suggestions by those who have read her. :)

November: Turkey
Istanbul is in my top five places for a dream vacation! That being said, I haven’t read too much Turkish lit (Pamuk and I have a rocky relationship). Fortunately, a lovely Turkish blogger recommended Elif Shafak to me awhile back, so I’ll stick with her! I love Rumi, so of course The Forty Rules of Love has me curious.

December: Choose any country
I’m leaving this up to whim! I might go for one the Communist countries I don’t get to in May, but who knows?

January: Cambodia
Another country that’s difficult to find literature not surrounding the genocide. This time, I decided to not even try to fight it, and I found several books that sound interesting, as well as heart-breaking: The Lost Executioner by Nic Dunlop (a journalist’s look at the Khmer Rouge through the biography of an executioner), Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmarer by Philip Short (a biography of Pol Pot), or The Disappeared by Kim Echlin (a novel by a Canadian author about a romance between a Canadian woman and Cambodian man).

February: England
I read a ton of British authors, so making a list would be silly! :)

March: Ireland
When I announced I was signing up for the Irish Lit Challenge, you lovely readers suggested all sorts of marvelous sounding authors to me. Among the ones that jumped out at me and are available in my library’s catalogue: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd, The Rose Garden by Maeve Brennan, The Gathering by Anne Enright (which I have on my shelves somewhere), The Barracks by John McGahern, My Dream of You by Nuala O’Faolain, Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor, The Light of Evening by Edna O’Brien, Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan, and The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2010 9:12 am

    The beginning of your post made me laugh, because I write the best posts in my head when I’m out running errands and can never remember them when I get home.

    You’ve made a great list for the challenge!

    • April 26, 2010 12:52 pm

      I know! I tend to write the best ones in the shower, and then end up with a poor echo when I try to type them up. ;)

  2. April 24, 2010 9:23 am

    This challenge looks interesting! As do ALL of your book choices. Can’t wait to read what you think of them!

  3. tuulenhaiven permalink
    April 24, 2010 9:27 am

    Whoa, full stop. Looks like a great challenge and a great list! I can’t believe I missed this when Jill originally posted about it. I’m not doing the Orbis Terrarum challenge this year, nor did I intend to join any other challenges, but this looks like too much fun. I’m already reading two books by French authors this month anyway, so it’s predestined. Thanks for bringing this challenge to my attention! :)

    • April 26, 2010 12:53 pm

      I’m glad you’ll be joining in the fun! :D I’m not doing OT this year either.

  4. April 24, 2010 10:33 am

    Your book choices look great, although I of course haven’t read many of them.

    I do hope you read Everything is Illuminated by Foer, it is an amazing book. (I can’t believe that I’ve read a book before you did, btw!) I found it hard to get into at first, but it’s a rewarding read.

    • April 26, 2010 12:54 pm

      I bet you’ve read lots of books before me! :) I’m glad to hear good things about Everything Illuminated.

  5. April 24, 2010 11:07 am

    Eva, I’m glad you listed some books for this challenge, since I’m also participating! I’m cracking open “Five Quarters of the Orange” by Joanne Harris today (yes, starting a little late!) for this month (she is the author of “Chocolat” and this book also takes place in France).

    As for “choose any country” in December, I think I’ll just find something from my TBR pile and try to make it a different country from any of those included in the challenge.

    Should be fun!

    • April 26, 2010 12:55 pm

      I still haven’t started my Colette read; I’m down to the wire now! ;) I love the movie Chocolat, but I’ve never read any Joanne Harris.

  6. April 24, 2010 11:08 am

    I haven’t actually read it myself, but A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (a Montreal author) was highly praised in Canada when it came out. And it’s too bad you’re not looking for new New Zealand authors (though who could blame you for wanting to stick with Katherine Mansfield), because last year when I discovered her I absolutely fell in love with Kirsty Gunn.

    • April 26, 2010 12:56 pm

      I read the first few chapters on Sunday at the Pool, etc. a couple years ago and didn’t like it. The writing style just didn’t work for me! Well, now that you’ve recommended Kirsty Gunn, of course I want to try her! :P

  7. April 24, 2010 1:21 pm

    I love reading your lists and this one was particularly intriguing! Lots of titles to add to my own TBR list. I’ll be interested to see which ones you end up reading!

  8. April 24, 2010 2:54 pm

    I actually saw Thomas King give a talk at my university, he was very funny. And your list for this challenge does make it sound tempting, I could tie it in with my Read the World challenge! At any rate, thanks for lots of international reading ideas.

  9. April 24, 2010 4:32 pm

    Eva – I’m not joining the challenge but am adding some titles from your list to my TBR list.
    For September, have you read Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony” or N. Scott Momaday’s “House Made of Dawn”?

    • April 26, 2010 12:57 pm

      I haven’t; thanks for the recommendations. :) I’m shamefully thin on Native American reading.

  10. April 24, 2010 5:03 pm

    A very clever challenge with some very promising books. At the very least, I will be with you in spirit !

  11. April 25, 2010 12:43 am

    No James Joyce for the Irish challenge? :o

    • April 26, 2010 12:58 pm

      He’s on my actual Irish Lit Challenge list, just not on this one. :)

  12. April 25, 2010 7:15 am

    This sounds terribly fun. I joined, but I doubt I’ll keep up with you. :)

    • April 26, 2010 12:58 pm

      I’m of the no-pressure school of thought re: challenges! :)

  13. April 26, 2010 8:03 am

    So many of your targets sound tempting and the challenge sounds terrific!

    Re: Your September Choices
    I’m working my way through Sherman Alexie’s fiction too: good stuff. Also, if you can find it, the Thomas King on audio is wonderful: it definitely brings another layer of enjoyment to the text.

    • April 26, 2010 12:59 pm

      Ohh: I wish my library had King on audio. It doesn’t, but I’ll stay on the lookout. Isn’t Alexie grand?

  14. April 26, 2010 11:59 am

    What a great challenge. I feel like even though I love to read books in foreign settings, or by foreign authors, most of my reading is really from American and British authors. Must get more variety in there! Looking forward to following how your challenge goes. Have fun!

    • April 26, 2010 1:00 pm

      My default is definitely American/British authors, which is part of why I join internationally-focused challenges! :)

  15. April 26, 2010 2:27 pm

    I just knew you’d come through with a reading list! And it’s fabulous, as usual. I can’t recommend The Disappeared enough…same goes for The 40 Rules of Love, so I’m hoping those rise to the top of your list.

    • April 27, 2010 12:16 pm

      You’re definitely making them rise up. :D

  16. April 26, 2010 7:12 pm

    As usual, you wow me with your reading lists!

  17. April 27, 2010 1:55 pm

    For India can we add some lesser known authors pls.

  18. April 27, 2010 2:23 pm

    I found out about King’s book on story-telling while researching NA authors online and it DOES sound amazing! If you end up reading that one, let me know and I will try to read it with you. I don’t think it is very long.

    For your Cambodia series, have you considered the book When Broken Glass Floats? I have that on my shelf to read as well.

  19. April 27, 2010 3:22 pm

    Was fascinated by all your recommendations. I’ve just discovered a fascinating book by a German writer whose novel is based on his experience as a mature adult during World War II during the Nazi Regime, Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada.

  20. Mome Rath permalink
    April 27, 2010 9:02 pm

    Great reading lists! I read The Coroner’s Lunch last year, and quickly went through the rest of Cotterill’s mysteries — he has a good sense of humor, and makes Laos seem like a fascinating place to visit (well, other than the Communism). If you end up reading the series, I hope you enjoy it! For New Zealand, have you read any of Katherine Mansfield’s works, or are you reading her for the first time? And sorry to hear you haven’t enjoyed Pamuk’s works for Turkey. I hope you can get a chance to travel to Istanbul someday — it’s a beautiful city!

  21. April 28, 2010 4:36 pm

    Thanks for this list. I saw it just in time! I just signed up for this challenge some time back, and I’m excitedly rubbing my palms together! :)

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