Sunday, March 30, 2008

Needed: International Fiction Recommendations

I have just taken a close look at the reading I've done through the first three months of 2008 and it's not quite what I hoped it would be when the year began. My three main goals were to read more books by women than I read last year, to revisit some of my favorites from the past and to read more by writers from countries other than the U.S.

Well, so far, I'm on a pace to read fewer books by women this year than last and, even worse, I've only reread two books and am doing almost nothing with international writers.

The problem is that I just don't seem to hear much (maybe my mind is closed to them) about writers from other parts of the world. I used to read a few writers from South America and Canada on a regular basis, plus quite a few from the U.K. But this year, if they are not authored by a Brit of some sort, I haven't read any international books at all. Obviously, I need some help here.

So, please give me some recommendations for international fiction and maybe even some good places to find the books. I'm not so much interested in non-fiction because, at this point in my life, I find international politics to be a particularly irritating subject. I realize there is (literally) a whole other world out there and that I'm missing out on it...a little help?

24 comments:

  1. Sam - Have you read any Rohinton Mistry? He's a writer from India. A Fine Balance was particularly good. A. B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz are two Israeli authors who are interesting. Alice Munro is Canadian, a woman, and a brilliant writer so you could kill two birds with one stone! And I'm a big Tim Winton fan, he's Australian. I think Cloud Street is a striking piece of writing. They should all be widely available and I think very enjoyable.

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  2. Oh! And Sebastien Japrisot wrote A Very Long Engagement, I thought that one was just beautiful.

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  3. Hi Sam. I recommend a compelling debut novel by Daniel Putkowski titled An Island Away (Hawser Press, May 2008). Putkowski is an American who lives in Aruba and has written a fascinating story about the red light district in San Nicolas -- Aruba's refinery town. I have an advance copy and couldn't put it down.

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  4. Hi Sam,

    This link will take you to my reading challenges page - the very first challenge listed is my Reading the World Challenge and below it are links to each region of the country where I have listed book ideas. Hope it will help you. Some books I've read there, and you can find links to my reviews.

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  5. Whoops, that should have said "each region of the WORLD"

    It's late :)

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  6. Sam,
    Would you like to try some short Korean novels? I'd be happy to fire some your way...just say the word...

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  7. I have a 'World Lit' page on my blog where I've collected reviews from quite a few sites of books from or about various authors (and most of them are fiction). That might help a bit!

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  8. How about joining the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge in July?
    ;)

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  9. Female authors: Suite Francaise and Half of a Yellow Sun were two of the best books I read last year. You might also enjoy The Bookseller of Kabul. Though non-fiction, it's written in a fictional style. You should definitely read a Margaret Atwood if you haven't already. I would recommend The Handmaid's Tale first.

    Male authors: I've read two books by Paulo Coelho and enjoyed both of them very much. Strangers by Taichi Yamada was really good. Independent People by Nobel laureate Halldor Laxness is about a sheep farmer in Iceland. Long, but very interesting book. Embers by Sandor Marai is very short--you could read that in a few hours.

    I love reading international fiction. I'll look forward to your future reviews!

    1morechapter.com

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  10. Another suggestion: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Fantastic dystopian novel, very short and could be read in a few hours. One of my favorites from last year.
    1morechapter.com

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  11. For even more suggestions, go to my website 1morechapter.com. I have a tab at the top, Categories, hover over that and then go down to 'by translation' or 'by setting.' You'll find even more titles there.

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  12. Some suggestions from a Dutch reader:
    * The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi by Arthur Japin: beautifully written, sensitive novel about two African princes in 19th Holland (based on a true story);
    * Rituals by Cees Nooteboom; internationally acclaimed, fairly short Dutch novel, published in 1980 and already a classic
    * Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson; Norwegian, award winning novel, written in deceptively simple language;
    * The Light by Torgny Lindgren; brief Swedish novel, slightly odd, but very interesting; hailed by one of our reviewers as brilliant;
    * The Year Is '42 by Nella Bielski, a Ukranian writing in French: original and subtle;
    * Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann; a highly acclaimed German novel about 2 early scientist; funny and smart.

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  13. Check out Words Without Borders ("The Online Magazine for International Literature">

    http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/

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  14. Europa Editions has some really great new translations. I particularly enjoy their Mediterranean noir.

    http://www.europaeditions.com/

    I've also been enjoying titles from Kodansha International, which has a nice collection of Japanese mystery translations, among other things.

    http://www.kodansha-intl.com/contents/categoryTop.php?cid=111

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  15. Thanks...you guys are fantastic. There's so much good information here that I'm going to immediately start taking a look at the links, titles,and authors offered up. In fact, I think that all of this information just might have the makings of a separate post...this is good stuff.

    I'm overwhelmed at the response and can't wait to get my hands on some of this stuff. :-)

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  16. Here's another site that I always look to for international reviews:

    http://www.complete-review.com/maindex/maindex.html

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  17. Thanks, this just keeps getting better and better. :-)

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  18. Hey Sam, just email me if you decide on some Korean Lit: suz19612003atyahoodotcom

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  19. You should definitely try Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg who is Danish, and also Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved both of them.

    Good luck and I look forward to reading your reviews!

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  20. You might wish to try Haruki Murakami for some good Japanese literature.
    I also enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri's books.
    And i guess try the Orange Prize's winners for fiction by women (what better place to start with than that!)

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  21. I need to read more international fiction, too! If you like thrillers/mysteries I can recommend Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian author and I agree with the idea above--Per Petterson is great! I read a book by a Spanish author who wrote in the 30s--Carmen Laforet. The book was called Nada and it was very good. I also really like Arturo Perez-Reverte, he's Spanish and writes literary thrillers as well as a swashbuckling series featuring Captain Alatriste. I need to write down some of the suggestions you received as well!

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  22. John, be sure to let me know, please, when your second Canadian challenge begins. I'd like to give it a shot.

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  23. 3M, you are really organized over there. Thanks for the link...I'll be choosing books from your "translated" category as I can work the books in. That's a great source.

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  24. Thanks again to everyone for the great title suggestions...I suddenly have so many choices that I'm overwhelmed. That's a good thing. :-)

    I can't wait to get started.

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