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Sebald, though German, lived and taught at a University in England. He died in a car crash shortly after publishing this novel and has become somewhat of a cult figure. The novel is written in a unique style where photographs of things and places are interspersed throughout the story, blurring the line between fiction and reality. The story is of a young German boy, whose Jewish parents send him to England to escape the Holocaust. He recounts his story to the narrator whom he first meets at the Austerlitz train station in Brussels, years later.

The language of the book is so poetic and the tone, very spiritual. Madagascar has little literature in translation although Claude Simon, Nobel laureate, was born in Madagascar when it was still a French colony. I noticed that you have the Philippines on your travel list but no books listed. Your reading project is impressive — and clearly brings you much joy. This is pretty cool! It makes my reading list of classics minuscule. Good luck with this project, and congratulations on the work that you have already completed!

From New Zealand, much debate in the house right now. It was made into a chilling film in the mid-nineties that had a ripple effect on the country that we still feel today. This compact novel was the first published by a Maori in , and my own first edition copy takes pride of place on my bookshelf.

And for all of this, with a little research, you will see there is a clear bias in my recommendations.

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I will send this link to my MIL who will no doubt suggest some of our great names in classical literature such as Janet Frame, Katherine Mansfield. Good luck and I look forward to more reviews!


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Great, thanks Nadine. Nice list! We overlap a fair amount, but not entirely. Great stuff. Good to hear from a fellow literary globetrotter. How long did it take you to get round?

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I finished yesterday, so around 4. Should you by any chance be looking for more books from Finland, there is more accurately was a writer of historical fiction called Mika Waltari, who was popular enough mid 20th C for a few of his translated works to be kicking around English second hand shops — and to be easly available via Amazon. Although I guess reading a book about Ancient Egypt by a Finn might not be the best way to get to know either culture…. Excellent, thanks. My Andorran book was actually on that topic. Thanks very much for your comment. An interesting endeavour.

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I know of someone that tried to do this for the Beijing Olympics. Her list can be viewed here. Like Hosseini, he may no longer live in Afghanistan but his fiction tells more of the country rather than seek to tug at heartstrings.


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  6. I reviewed it a number of years back on my old blog see here. Pleased to see you have Augusto Monterroso pencilled in for Guatemala. However, the best thing about this is the exposure to so many different cultures that bring to the table so many — at least to our culture — fresh ideas. Although it at least fosters a foothold for publishers to get in the game, giving more choice. Ultimately, people can really benefit from reading around the world.

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    Writers, I would hope, even more so. Writers beyond their cultures. Yet, so little does it seem reciprocated, leaving us with book shops filled with boring English language fiction that is little more than navel-gazing twaddle…and newspapers swooning over it.

    Thanks for picking me up on the Oksanen — will amend. Maybe this is a sign that it should be my Hungarian pick…. Will add your other suggestions on too so others can check them out. Thanks for taking the time to comment. The Karinthy is a good alternative. Yes, Under the Frog has been a controversial one. There seems to be split opinion about whether it can be classed as Hungarian….

    An inspiring effort. I would like to send you a book that will add the Para-Olympics to your wonderful list. Please email a postal address to me. Best wishes.

    196 countries, countless stories…

    Elizabeth New Zealand. Best wishes Ann. What a simply superb project, I am so excited to read the suggestions and the comments are such a value addition. I am going to spend my entire spare money on what I havent read so far, from your list, i guess. I am from India, and I note that both the suggestions in comments and your list for India reads are those written originally in English. I have to say these are just second best to what regional literature we have here in over 23 official languages and a couple of hundreds of other languages spoken across the country.

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    Penguin India has published both these writers in translation if I remember right. Or check with the publications of the Central Sahitya Akademi, the government wing that gives the annual writing awards. They publish all award winners in translation to English. So you have a choice for an entire new year of reading. Other than this, I was surprised to find that the Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra was not on your list.

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    Actually it isnt a she its a he that writes under the name Yasmina. Thank you very much for this Suneetha. I shall add them to the list. India is without question going to be one of my most difficult choices. It has such a rich and varied literary tradition that I could easily spend a decade just reading Indian books. He is one of the very best-known writers in English within India, but he is virtually unknown without. His style is crisp and pared back, almost Hemingway-esque without the machismo.


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    He has a wry naughtiness on par with Roald Dahl, and his short stories are perfectly formed little nuggets — either wickedly funny, or with gut-punch impact. The Portrait of a Lady: The Collected Short Stories, would be a good choice, but better still would be his magnificent little novel Train to Pakistan, the single greatest literary response to the partition of India, angry and erudite but with a very simple presentation. I read it in one sitting first time around, and the final page had me physically trembling…. Thanks Tim.

    Khushwant Singh sounds great. Who knows, I may even mention your comment in my post!