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Old 11-01-2018, 01:11 AM   #1
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International Feel • November 2018

Help select what we'll read next!


The topic is International Feel

This is directed towards books with some sort of international feel to them, such as foreign language, set between multiple continents or countries, or some other interpretation of the topic.


Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.

*

Nominations are complete. Voting is complete. Final results-
  • Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
    Post . Goodreads . 288 Pages . Votes 4 . 2013 . Iraq

  • Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue
    Post . Goodreads . 267 Pages . Votes 0 . 2013 . Mexico

  • The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
    Post . Goodreads . 260 Pages . Votes 1 . 1998 . Georgia & Russia

  • Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou
    Post . Goodreads . 258 Pages . Votes 1 . 2003 . Greece

  • The Tango Singer by Tomás Eloy Martínez
    Post . Goodreads . 251 Pages . Votes 3 . 2004 . Argentina

  • The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
    Post . Goodreads . 185 Pages . Votes 2 . 1982 . Finland

Last edited by sun surfer; 11-09-2018 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:17 AM   #2
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Now that it’s the weekend I’ll have time to research nominations. Should be fun!
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:33 PM   #3
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As we don't have anyone from Iraq on the list, I'll nominate Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel by Ahmed Saadawi.

From goodreads:

Quote:
From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi--a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café--collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he's created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive--first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by "Baghdad's new literary star" (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.
Awards:
  • International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) (2014)
  • Man Booker International Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2018)

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Old 11-04-2018, 10:19 AM   #4
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I nominate Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. The author is from Mexico but the story travels all over the place, including Mexico, England, Spain and Italy, as well as over time. It has to do with a tennis match between Caravaggio and Spanish poet Quevedo, with spectators including popes, Galileo and Mary Magdalene. 267 pages Goodreads

Quote:
A daring, kaleidoscopic novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century that continue to reverberate throughout modernity—a story unlike anything you’ve ever read before.

Sudden Death begins with a brutal tennis match that could decide the fate of the world. The bawdy Italian painter Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Quevedo battle it out before a crowd that includes Galileo, Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would throw Europe into the flames. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII behead Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as conquistador Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche, scheme and conquer, fight and f**k, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the world. And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody, it’s a manual.

In this mind-bending, prismatic novel, worlds collide, time coils, traditions break down. There are assassinations and executions, hallucinogenic mushrooms, utopias, carnal liaisons and papal dramas, artistic and religious revolutions, love stories and war stories. A dazzlingly original voice and a postmodern visionary, Álvaro Enrigue tells a grand adventure of the dawn of the modern era in this short, powerful punch of a novel. Game, set, match.
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Old 11-04-2018, 03:15 PM   #5
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Next I nominate The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin, Georgia (& Russia), 1998, Goodreads. This is a mystery & historical fiction novel and the first in a detective series. I found it in something discussing more literary spy novels (one interpretation I had of the 'international' theme because what's more international than spies?) though I'm not sure if this one in particular is actually a spy novel since it seems that in this series the author tackles a different mystery sub-genre in each book and this one is the 'conspiracy' mystery, not the 'spy' one. Still, this had an international feel to me as it starts in Moscow but travels across Europe, and we haven't had an author from Georgia yet, and it looks like it'd be an enjoyable read that would make for some good discussion. We have had books set in Russia before but not in over four years (Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad from May 2014, which just so happens to be a spy novel itself), and we haven't read a book originally written in Russian since exactly six years ago (We by Yevgeny Zamyatin in November 2012, though our first year we read a good percentage of Russian books including The Eternal Husband by Dostoyevsky and our very first selection, The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov).

Quote:
Moscow, May 1876: What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information.

Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done—and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin. There are many unresolved questions. Why, for instance, have both victims left their fortunes to an orphanage run by the English Lady Astair? And who is the beautiful "A.B.," whose signed photograph is found in the apparent suicide's apartment? Relying on his keen intuition, the eager sleuth plunges into an investigation that leads him across Europe, landing him at the deadly center of a terrorist conspiracy of worldwide proportions.
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Old 11-04-2018, 09:54 PM   #6
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I'm going to nominate a book from Greece, Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou.

From Amazon:
Quote:
In Amanda Michalopoulou's Why I Killed My Best Friend, a young girl named Maria is lifted from her beloved Africa and relocated to her native Greece. She struggles with the transition, hating everything about Athens: the food, the air, the school, her classmates, the language. Just as she resigns herself to misery, Anna arrives. Though Anna's refined, Parisian upbringing is the exact opposite of Maria's, the two girls instantly bond over their common foreignness, becoming inseparable in their relationship as each other's best friend, but also as each other's fiercest competition—be it in relation to boys, talents, future aspirations, or political beliefs.

From Maria and Anna's grade school days in '70s, post-dictatorship Greece, to their adult lives in the present, Michalopoulou charts the ups, downs, and fallings-out of the powerful self-destructive bond only true best friends can have. Simply and beautifully written, Why I Killed My Best Friend is a novel that ultimately compares and explores friendship as a political system of totalitarianism and democracy.

Amanda Michalopoulou is the author of five novels, two short story collections, and a successful series of children's books. One of Greece's leading contemporary writers, Michalopoulou has won that country's highest literary awards, including the Revmata Prize and the Diavazo Award. Her story collection, I'd Like, was longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award.

Karen Emmerich is a translator of Modern Greek poetry and prose. Her recent translations include volumes by Yannis Ritsos, Margarita Karapanou, Ersi Sotiropoulos, and Miltos Sachtouris. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and is on the faculty of the University of Oregon.
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Old 11-04-2018, 10:43 PM   #7
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I also nominate The Tango Singer by Tomás Eloy Martínez. I would love to travel to Argentina someday. This book sounds interesting and captures the culture and history of Buenos Aires.

From Goodreads:
Quote:
A hypnotic novel in which an American student's quest to find the greatest living tango singer leads him deep into the labyrinth of Argentina's past. It is 2001, and inflation is spiraling out of control in Argentina as Bruno Cadogan, an American graduate student specializing in Borges, arrives in Buenos Aires. Cadogan is on the trail of Julio Martel, an elusive tango singer rumored to be even better than Carlos Gardel, the greatest singer of the 1920s and '30s. Martel has never recorded and his strange, powerful performances, at seemingly arbitrary sites around the city, are always unannounced.

Cadogan finds lodging in a boarding house rumored to be the setting of the famous Borges story "The Aleph," and soon finds himself drawn into the tangle of legends surrounding the singer's life. As the economic tension grows and the city hovers on the verge of riots, Bruno begins to believe that Martel's increasingly rare performances are in fact far from random—that they instead form a map of the darkest moments in the city's past.
About the author from Goodreads:
Quote:
Martínez has also been a teacher and lecturer. He taught (1984-87) at the University of Maryland. In 1995, he took a position as distinguished professor and director of the Latin American Studies program at Rutgers University, New Jersey. He wrote columns for La Nación and the New York Times syndicate, and his articles have appeared in many newspapers and journals in Latin America.

He has published a number of books, one of which, Santa Evita, has been translated into 32 languages and published in 50 countries. He was awarded the Guggenheim and Woodrow Wilson fellowships, and won the 2002 Alfaguara award for the novel Flight of the Queen. His works deal primarily (but not exclusively) with Argentina during and after the rule of Juan Domingo Perón and his wife, Eva Duarte de Perón (Evita). Martínez died in Buenos Aires after a long battle against a brain tumor.
About the translator from Wikipedia:
Quote:
Anne McLean is a Canadian translator of Spanish literature. She began to learn Spanish in her late twenties and developed her language skills while living in Central America. Some years later in England, she took a master's degree in literary translation. McLean has translated a number of Spanish and Latin American authors, including Julio Cortázar, Javier Cercas, Evelio Rosero, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Carmen Martín Gaite, among others.[
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:25 AM   #8
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For my last nomination I offer The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, Finland, 1982, 185 pages, Goodreads. This one is all Scandinavian and is set in a small village, and has to do with 'the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others'. We haven't read anything in the lit club from Finland or Sweden yet, and though Jansson is Finnish she wrote in Swedish since she was part of a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland so there's a bit of the international at play there.

Quote:
The lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others—is the subject of this, Tove Jansson’s most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book, to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.

Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody’s talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children’s book illustrator, appears to be Katri’s opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna’s life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:58 AM   #9
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That’s an interesting list of title names!
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:00 AM   #10
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Also they are all short books - less than 300 pages.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:08 AM   #11
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Nominations are closed and voting is now open!

Voting will close exactly four days from this post.

Each person has FIVE votes to use.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
Also they are all short books - less than 300 pages.
Yes, and five of the six are all within 40 pages of each other. Also I just noticed that all happened to be nominated in descending page count order, heh.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:55 AM   #13
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That’s an interesting list of title names!
Certainly a bright, upbeat group what with words such as killed, deceiver, death, Frankenstein and winter.
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:28 PM   #14
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Tough choices! I’ll have to read some samples online. I nominated The Summer Book for the NLBC and read it on my own. I enjoyed Jansson’s writing.
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Old 11-06-2018, 01:07 AM   #15
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I'll start with

1 vote to The Tango Singer
1 vote to Frankenstein in Baghdad
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