chlorine's world reads

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chlorine's world reads

1chlorine
Oct 29, 2023, 7:19 am

Hello,

I'm going to tentatively start a thread in this group to keep track of books read from around the world.

My personal rules are a bit hazy and likely to be adjusted with time; the main points are:
- I want to read books written by authors of the considered country, if possible. I may also be interested in nonfiction books about a country, and/or books by authors who have lived for a long time in the country.
- I probably won't list books by authors from France (my country), the US or UK. I have nothing againts these countries but I read a gazillion books from them and this is not what I want to focus on here. ;)
- As I'm French I will list the country names in French. I'll group countries by continents rathen than alphabetically.
- I've been participating to a similar challenge on the French-speaking website babelio.com for two or three years so I'll gradually import my booklist from that challenge, and will be listing the new books I read in the rest of this thread.
- I'm not sure about what I'll consider as a country; participating to this challenge made me realise what is and isn't a country is a more complicated question than I thought. I'll start with the list of 200 countries set up by the babelio challenge organisers and browse other people threads to see where I go from there. My gut feeling is rather want to list disputed territories such as Tibet, Palestine, Taiwan, etc. but it's not clear to me where a comprehensive list should stop. Also even though I said I would probably not list French book I'm also tempted to list French oversea territories as I know very little about them.

I want to thank all members of this group as it is a fantastic source of inspiration for my reading!

With this introduction let this very informal thread begin! I'll come back to list the books I've already read later and start by listing two reviews I made recently on Club Read.

2chlorine
Edited: Nov 22, 2023, 5:17 am

Africa

Afrique du Sud

Algérie
L'attentat by Yasmina Khadra
Meursault, contre-enquête by Kamel Daoud

Angola
Bénin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi

Cameroun
Les impatientes by Djaïli Amadou Amal

Cap-Vert
Centrafricaine (République)
Comores

Rép.démocratique du Congo
Dans le ventre du Congo by Blaise Ndala

Congo
Côte d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Égypte
Érythrée
Eswatini
Éthiopie
Gabon
Gambie

Ghana
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Guinée
Guinée équatoriale
Guinée-Bissau
Kenya

Lesotho
Basali!: Stories by and about women in Lesotho

Liberia
Libye
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Maroc

Maurice
En attendant demain by Natacha Appanah

Mauritanie
Mozambique
Namibie
Niger

Nigeria
Happiness like water by Chinelo Okparanta

Ouganda
Rwanda
Sao Tomé-et-Principe

Sénégal
Une si longue lettre by Mariama Bâ

Seychelles

Sierra Leone
Little family by Ishmael Beah

Somalie
Soudan
Sud-Soudan

Tanzanie
By the sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Tchad :
Togo :

Tunisie
Une farouche liberté by Gisèle Halimi

Zambie

Zimbabwe
Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo

3chlorine
Edited: Jan 29, 2:41 pm

America

Antigua-et-Barbuda

Argentine
Nuestra parte de Noche by Mariana Enriquez

Bahamas
Barbade
Belize
Bolivie
Brésil
Canada

Chili
De amor y de sombra by Isabel Allende

Colombie
Nouvelles hispano-américaines

Costa Rica
Mourons (ensemble), Federico by Joaquín Gutiérrez

Cuba
Le royaume de ce monde by Alejo Carpentier

Dominicaine (République)
Dominique
Équateur
États-Unis
Grenade
Guatemala
Guyana
Haïti
Honduras
Jamaïque

Mexique
Poubelle by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny

Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay

Pérou
La ville et les chiens by Mario Vargas Llosa

Saint-Christophe-et-Niévès
Sainte-Lucie
St-Vincent-et-les-Grenadines
Salvador
Suriname
Trinité-et-Tobago
Uruguay
Venezuela

4chlorine
Edited: Feb 4, 8:44 am

Asia

Afghanistan
Syngué Sabour: pierre de patience by Atiq Rahimi

Arabie saoudite
Arménie :
Azerbaïdjan
Bahreïn
Bangladesh
Birmanie

Bouthan
Le cercle du karma by Kunzang Choden

Brunei
Cambodge

Chine
Le sorgho rouge Ya Ding
Mémoires d'un eunuque dans la cité interdite by Dan Shi
Le septième jour by Yu Hua

Corée du Nord
Corée du Sud :
Émirats arabes unis
Géorgie
Inde
Indonésie
Irak

Iran
On s'y fera by Zoyâ Pirzad

Israël
Entre amis by Amoz Oz

Japon
Mariage contre nature by Yukiko Motoya

Jordanie
Kazakhstan
Kirghizistan
Koweït
Laos
Liban
Malaisie
Maldives
Mongolie
Népal
Oman
Ouzbékistan
Pakistan
Palestine
Philippines
Qatar

Russie
The alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Singapour
The Singapore Story by Lee Kuan Yew

Sri Lanka
Syrie
Tadjikistan
Taïwan
Thaïlande
Tibet
Timor oriental
Turkménistan
Turquie
Viêt Nam
Yemen

5chlorine
Edited: Dec 3, 2023, 5:28 am

Europe

Albanie
Allemagne
Andorre
Autriche
Belgique
Biélorussie
Bosnie-Herzégovine
Bulgarie
Chypre
Croatie
Danemark

Espagne
Zig Zag by Jose Carlos Somoza
Todo Paracuellos by Carlos Giménez (comic book)

Estonie
Finlande
France
Grèce
Hongrie
Irlande

Islande
L'Île au secret by Ragnar Jónasson

Italie
Terres rares by Sandro Veronesi

Kosovo
Lettonie
Liechtenstein
Lituanie
Luxembourg
Macédoine
Malte
Moldavie
Monaco
Montenegro

Norvège
Une histoire des abeilles by Maja Lunde

Pays-Bas
Pologne
Portugal

Roumanie
La vie et les agissements d'Ilie Cazane by Răzvan Rădulescu

Royaume-Uni
Saint-Marin

Serbie
Soixante-neuf tiroirs by Goran Petrović

Slovaquie
C'est arrivé un premier septembre by Pavol Rankov

Slovénie

Suède
L'origine du monde by Liv Strömquist (comic book documentary)

Suisse
Tchèque (République)
Ukraine
Vatican

6chlorine
Edited: Oct 30, 2023, 1:38 am

Oceania

Australie
COM (Tahiti, Nouvelle-Calédonie, Polynésie, Wallis et Futuna)
Cook (Iles)
Fidji
Kiribati
Marshall
Micronésie
Nauru
Nioué

Nouvelle-Zélande
Daughter of the forest by Juliet Marillier (set in Ireland)

Palaos
Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée
Salomon (Iles)

Samoa
Telesā: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young

Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu

7chlorine
Oct 29, 2023, 7:20 am

Reserved just in case.

8chlorine
Oct 29, 2023, 7:21 am

Basali! Stories by and about women in Lesotho

As far as I understand K. Limakatso Kendall was an American who got a scholarship to go and work at the National Lesotho University. During this time she organised a workshop to encourage participants to write in English, with a reflection on how "Lesothan English" should have its specificities. Some of the stories include several Sesotho (the language) words, with a glossary provided at the end.
This short books collect the very short stories written in this context.

The authors are mostly women and many stories are autobiographical or are true stories which were told to them (the stories by the few male authors belong in this last category). The book was published in 1995 and the authors were mostly telling stories about their youth, and the overall impression I had was that many of these stories took place during the 1960s or not very long after (Lesotho became an independant country in 1966).
This was an interesting read and it really was a window into Lesotho's life for me. Unfortunately some of the things described were so unknown to me that I was a bit lost sometimes (for instance I have no idea what a circumcision school for girls is; in the story it seemed to be a school for learning how to do domestic chores and no mutilation was mentioned).

9chlorine
Oct 29, 2023, 7:22 am

Telesā: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young

A YA book about a young American-Samoan girl raised in the USA who comes to Samoa after her father's death to learn more about her family and discovers she has supernatural powers.
The heroine is a teenager, so it's not shocking that she misinterprets and overreacts to what people around her are doing, but I found there were a few too many contradictions and arbitrary decisions.

I also found certain scenes had a high yikes factor for me in terms of consent, most notably a scene where a 25-year-old man touches and kisses her (she's 18) after she's told him she just wants to be friends.

I won't be reading the sequel.

10labfs39
Oct 29, 2023, 8:47 am

Welcome! I love (and may emulate) your grouping of countries by continent. Last year I participated in an Asian Novel Challenge and this year an African one, so organizing by continent would have been helpful.

11chlorine
Oct 29, 2023, 10:03 am

>10 labfs39: My grouping by continent is not my idea as it is the way it is organised in the babelio.com challenge to which I'm participating. But I like the idea as well. :)
This is what prompted me to read the Samoan book because I was realising I was really behind on that continent.

12Jackie_K
Oct 29, 2023, 12:15 pm

Welcome to the group!

13chlorine
Oct 30, 2023, 1:23 am

14Dilara86
Oct 30, 2023, 6:49 am

Welcome to the group! I've dropped a star so I can follow your reads more easily : I can see some interesting titles I'll have to follow up on.

15Willoyd
Oct 30, 2023, 11:29 am

>10 labfs39:
Welcome! I love (and may emulate) your grouping of countries by continent.
If you want a list in English, that's how I've organised the lists at the front of my thread. An explanation of which countries I've included and why is in the first post. I certainly find it much easier to keep track of the geography of where I've been by doing it this way (it makes more sense to me too, but then I'm a geographer by background too!).

16chlorine
Oct 30, 2023, 4:16 pm

>14 Dilara86: Hi there! :) I'm slowly working my way down your thread and finding some interesting books here as well so I would be glad to be able to reciprocate. :)

17labfs39
Edited: Oct 31, 2023, 7:17 am

>11 chlorine: >15 Willoyd: Sounds good! I'll plan a reorg for the next time I'm in the list making mood and have an hour to spare. I think it will be a lot easier to gauge my progress.

Edited to add: Although my map helps with this, it's hard to see the small countries.

18Willoyd
Oct 31, 2023, 2:12 pm

>17 labfs39:
Yes, I'd like to find one that shows them up better, but not successful so far.

19chlorine
Oct 31, 2023, 2:17 pm

>17 labfs39: >18 Willoyd: I haven't put up a map because I find it discouraging that it seems to filled up once you have checked the US and Russia. There are various maps that show countries with different size than they are based on diverse criteria but I wasn't able to find one in which all countries have the same size. :p

20Cecilturtle
Nov 1, 2023, 11:23 am

Bienvenue, Chlorine!

21chlorine
Nov 2, 2023, 1:47 am

>20 Cecilturtle: Merci ! :)

22chlorine
Edited: Nov 7, 2023, 1:28 am

Spain



Todo paracuellos by Carlos Giménez

Those who read the French comic magazine Fluide Glacial in the eighties will immediately recognise the drawing style of Carlos Giménez with those half-starved children with huge eyes.

Giménez spent eight years during his childhood in Francoist spain in homes for orphans or children from families which could not support them. As an adult, he did a documentary work, talking with other persons who had spent time in these homes, to collect stories. His collection of 6 comic books, brought together in this opus, is a collection of true stories.

This was a very interesting and moving, but very difficult read, as the book features almost every kind of child abuse imaginable: the children were starving, beaten, humiliated, set up one against another, and made miserable in every conceivable way. Yet still they remained children and found some time to play and be children.
In the introduction Giménez insists that the dehumanisation of the Francoist regime was not specific to these homes but that the whole of Spain during this time was a place of much violence in which the stronger were always hurting the weaker.

Rating 10/10

23chlorine
Nov 7, 2023, 1:29 am

Mémoires d'un eunuque dans la cité interdite by Dan Shi.

This is based on a true story of a young man born a poor peasant who was tricked into being castrated to find work in the imperial palace, in China at the end of the 19th century.
This book is very interesting both by its description of the horrors of castration and the way eunuchs, who are hired in large numbers as servants, are treated in such a hard and humiliating way, and by its description of the historical period which featured the war with western countries after the Boxer rebellion, the death of dowager empress Cixi and the coming of the Republic.

Rating: 8/10

24Dilara86
Nov 7, 2023, 2:42 am

>23 chlorine: Sounds interesting - I'll add it to my wishlist!

25chlorine
Nov 7, 2023, 5:00 am

>24 Dilara86: It is interesting! In the introduction the translator insisted on the fact that she wanted to publish it as an historical document rather than as a novel so I was afraid it would be interesting but not pleasant to read, but it turned out to be very easy to read.

26chlorine
Edited: Nov 11, 2023, 4:46 am

Senegal

Une si longue lettre (Such a long letter) by Mariama Bâ

This novella takes the form of the long letter that Ramatoulaye, a Senegalese woman, writes to her friend Aïssatou during her enforced solitary period following her becoming a widow.
Both women were students in the period between WWII and independance, at a time during which society was changing and there was much hope for the future. Both women took high education and became primary school teachers, which if I understand correctly was a change from the previous generation. Yet both their husbands chose to take a second wife, according to the old muslim law.

This very beautifully written book reflects on the changes in woman condition, what is fair and what is not, and on love, both for one's spouse and one's children.

Rating 8/10

27Dilara86
Edited: Nov 11, 2023, 3:54 am

>22 chlorine: Thank you for putting Paracuellos on my radar: I borrowed the French version from my library. It is heartbreaking.

>26 chlorine: Une si longue lettre is fantastic!

28chlorine
Nov 11, 2023, 4:47 am

>27 Dilara86: I'm so glad Paracuellos is touching you! The heartbreak is indeed difficult to stomach, those poor children.

29labfs39
Nov 11, 2023, 10:15 am

>26 chlorine: Another book bullet!

30chlorine
Nov 12, 2023, 3:09 am

>29 labfs39: I read this book because I participated in a RL bookclub discussing it and everyone really liked it. This is a classic of Senegalese litterature for a good reason.

31chlorine
Edited: Nov 19, 2023, 3:21 am

Mexico

Poubelle (trash) by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny

This book takes place in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, right across the US border and the city of El Paso, near or in a huge garbage dump. Three women's lifre revolve around this dump, one because she is actually living in and from the dump, one a former prostitute and current madam (BTW is there no other word for this?!) who welcomes new girls seeking to flee the lives they come from and make mony, and a researcher who studies the impact of the dump on people around.

This is a short book with short chapters which reads very fast. At first I wasn't too much into it. The monologues of the madam in particular felt a bit clumsy. However, in the last third, when the lives of the three women start coming together (which is not a spoiler for this kind of book I guess), I found myself really wanting to know how it ends.

32labfs39
Nov 18, 2023, 9:35 am

This sounds interesting. I have read almost nothing from Mexico, despite it being a neighboring country. (BTW, the touchstone goes to a different book.)

33chlorine
Nov 19, 2023, 3:25 am

>32 labfs39: Thanks I corrected the touchstone.
I'd say this book is rather interesting but far from an important one so there are probably much more interesting choices for Mexico. Still this is a fast read and definitely describes various aspects of life in this city so it's definitely a good book for knowing more about other countries.

34chlorine
Nov 22, 2023, 5:16 am

Algeria

Meursault, contre-enquête by Kamel Daoud

What a strange book! I really don't know what to make of it. This is a counterpart to L'étranger (The stranger) by Albert Camus. This is told by the brother of the man who was killed by Meursault in The Stranger, who is only spoken of as "the Arab".

I thought the point was to rebut the latent racism that caused the man to only be called "the Arab" without any other details but :
(1) the book is hardly about Moussa, the muredered man, because his brother was seven when he died and he doesn't remember well. Rather this is about how his life with his mother has been after the killing
(2) in this book, Meursault was released after being sentenced to death (why?) and wrote The Stranger himself and became famous, which seems a bit weird to me
(3) The brother claims of most of what is told in The Stranger didn't really happen and there arer in fact many similarities between Meursault and the brother, which is what confused me the most
(4) If you are trying to write a book that rebuts latent racism does the beginning of your book need to be completely misogynistic? The first ten pages are riddled with sentences such as "the port smells like an old whore made talkative by nostalgy". Yuck.

The book seems to have been some kind of revelation for many readers so I'm a bit sad I couldn't make sense of it.

35Cecilturtle
Nov 22, 2023, 11:44 am

>34 chlorine: I didn't enjoy it. I was looking forward to it and getting that different perspective, but I found it confusing, rambling and disengaging. A shame, because the idea is great.

36chlorine
Dec 3, 2023, 2:46 am

>35 Cecilturtle: I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who couldn't engage with The Meursault investigation. :)

37chlorine
Dec 3, 2023, 5:27 am

Romania

La vie et les agissements d'Ilie Cazane (live and deeds of Ilie Cazane) by Răzvan Rădulescu

This is a strange books, that tells its story by taking roundabout ways. It is about three characters in Romania under the communist regime. Ilie Cazane is one of the three characters but not necessarily the main one, and the book goes to the same point in their story several times, coming back to something already said and going in a different direction (to the extent that the same text appears twice or three times).
I found this original and interesting, and the book is globally well written, but I thought like it ended in the middle of nowhere and did not understand what was the point of the end.
One of the themes is the absurdity and omnipotence of the communist regime.

38chlorine
Jan 29, 2:40 pm

Costa Rica

Mourons (ensemble), Federico (Let's die, Federico) by Joaquín Gutiérrez

In Costa Rica, in the seventies, this book follows Federico, his encounter with his mistress and the impact this has on his marriages and his struggle against an all powerful agricultural company, financed by North Americans, which wants to buy his land.

All this is told in non chronological order, which adds some poetic aspect to the text. There is also a bit of magical realism, Federico's wife seeming to have psychic gifts. The book has some charm but I didn't really enjoy it, as it seemed too obscure at some points, and also the ending left me cold.

39chlorine
Feb 4, 8:43 am

China

Le septième jour (the seventh day) by Chinese authore Yu Hua (Hua being his last name if I understand correctly).

Yang Fei is dead. He discovers that he has to go to the crematorium to be cremated, but once he is there he abandons the idea: because he has no living family or close friend, nobody has purchased a resting place for him. Therefore he starts wandering the city, which makes him revisit some of places that were important to him and even run into over deceases persons who are also wandering.
Each of these places and encounters is the occasion for Yang Fei to reminisce about events or people in his former life. Life has been hard for him as well as the people around him and some critique of the Chinese government is present (this was written in the 2010's), such as demolitions of inhabited houses or people from the party leading a restaurant to its ruin by coming and eating for free.
Yang Fei evolves in some sort of fog that adds some distance between him and these memories, and gives a poetic aspect to the text, which is moreover very well written. All this contributed to a very pleasant reading experience.

40Dilara86
Feb 12, 9:05 am

>39 chlorine: That is a definite book bullet for me!

41chlorine
Mar 27, 1:57 pm

>40 Dilara86: I definitely recommend it, glad it appeals to you!