World Of Literature Project

49 Countries Read. One More To Go

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Goal: Read books by authors from 50 different countries of the world.

Progress update: July 2022: 49 countries completed.

Why A World of Literature Project?

We live in an increasingly global world. We’re connected by phone, Internet, snail mail, newspapers, magazines, television. Technology has enabled me to ‘meet’ many fellow book enthusiasts from all parts of the world, sharing our love of literature through blogs, Library Thing and GoodReads. I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime and yet I feel my reading has been somewhat limited. I know little about the literature of South America for example, have barely touched the surface with China and Africa.

I kicked off this project in 2013 with the idea of focusing initially on reading books from countries along the Equator and countries along the Prime Meridian.  Together that gave me a list 21 countries with an appealing mix of cultures, from Asia to Africa and Western Europe.

I’d love to be able to say at some point in the future that I’ve read a book from every county in the world. Unfortunately there are some parts of the world where it’s difficult to find books available as an English translation. France, Germany, Spain are all easily achievable but the chances I will find anything from Burkina Faso or Mali are slim.

My Guiding Principles

I’m trying to keep this simple and not tie myself down with too many “rules”. But I did feel the need to set some kind of boundaries.

1. This project is about reading indigenous authors

I’m not interested in books that are simply set in a particular country. I want books written by people who live and/or work in a country so I can get an insider’s perspective on its culture, language, way of life.

That does present me with a few challenges. Do I include authors who have been born in a country but now live elsewhere? What if they were born in country A but have lived most of their lives in country B? How about second generation authors? Those whi might never lived in China themselves, for example but through their parents and networks have a strong cultural affinity to that location?

There’s no perfect answer and I suspect I’m going to have to use a lot of judgement. If an author left the country of their birth when they were a very small child and have never returned (or only for a short visit) then I’m not going to classify them as being from that country. I’m probably going to get some decisions wrong but in the scheme of things that doesn’t matter too much.

2. Venture beyond the UK

For the purposes of this project I am excluding authors from the UK (Wales, Scotland,England and Northern Ireland). I’ll also exclude Eire and USA. I’ve read extensively from those parts of the world already so it wouldn’t be much of a challenge to include them here.

The table below will show you what I read as part of this project.  Some countries have more than one entry but I count the country just once.

CountryTitleAuthorDate read
AngolaA General Theory of Oblivion José Eduardo AgualusaDecember 2021
AustraliaThe Snow KimonoMark HenshawAugust 2014
AustraliaThe Sound of One Hand ClappingRichard FlanaganNovember 2020
AfghanistanAnd the Mountains Echoed Khaled HosseiniMay 2013
AlgeriaMemory in the Flesh
Ahlam Mosteghanemi August 2013
AlgeriaThe Swallows of KabulYasmina KhadraFebruary 2017
Austria A Whole Life Robert SeethalerJuly 2019
BangladeshA Golden AgeTahmima AnamMay 2022
BelgiumFear and TremblingAmelie Nothomb. June 2016
BrazilDom Casmurro Joachim Maria Machado de Assis Aug 2011
Burkina FasoThe Parachute DropNorbert ZongoJuly 2014
CanadaDear LifeAlice MunroJan 2014
ChileThe Infinite Plan Isabelle AllendeJune 2014
ChinaKinder Than SolitudeYiyun LiMarch 2018
China The Chilli Bean Past Clan Yan GeJune 2018
ColombiaThe ArmiesEvelio Rosero DiagoFeb 2013
Croatia Hotel Tito Ivana Simić Bodrožić July 2019
CubaThe German GirlArmando Lucas CorreaJuly 2018
CzechoslovakiaMiss Silver's PastJosef ŠkvoreckýMay 2017
Democratic Republic of The CongoFull CircleFrederick YamusangieJan 2014
DenmarkThe Murder of HallandPia Juul Dec 2016
Finland White HungerAki OllikainenMay 2015
FranceOld Goriot Honoré BalzacSept 2015
GermanyThe Search for Christa TChrista WolfSept 2015
GhanaWife of the Gods Kwei QuarterySept 2013
GhanaHomegoing Yaa Gyasi Dec 2017
GuadeloupeThe Tree of LifeMaryse Conde July 2016
Holland/the NetherlandsThe EveningsGerard Reve Read 2017
HungarySatantangoLaslo Krasznahorkai February 2014
IndiaThe Glass PalaceAmitav GhoshMarch 2014
IndonesiaThe Book of JakartaMaesy Ang and Teddy W. KusumaJanuary 2021
IsraelA Man Lies DreamingLavie Tidhar2015
IsraelWaking Lions Ayelet Gundar-goshen 2017
ItalyInspector MontelbanoAndrea CamilleriSept 2014
Ivory CoastIn The Company of Men Véronique TadjoAugust 2021
JamaicaThe Long SongAndrea LevyAugust 2019
The Housekeeper and The ProfessorYoko OgawaJuly 2016
JapanAfter The BanquetYukio MishimaDec 2013
KenyaPetals of Blood Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’oNov 2013
MexicoSigns Preceding The End Of The World Yuri HerreraOct 2021
NigeriaAmericanah Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieMay 2014
New ZealandThe LuminariesEleanor CattonJuly 2014
New ZealandThe Bone PeopleKeri HulmeApril 2014
North KoreaIn Order To Live Yeonmi Park June 2020
Norway Love Hanne ØrstavikJuly 2020
Norway The Blue RoomHanne Ørstavik Dec 2016
PakistanThe Reluctant Fundamentalist Mohsin Hamid Jan 2014
PakistanThe Holy Woman Qaisra ShahrazAug 2014
PolandChasing The King Of HeartsHanna KrallJuly 2022
Republic of the CongoBroken GlassAlain MabanckouJan 2013
RwandaThe Barefoot WomanScholastique Mukasonga.Sept 2019
SomaliaFrom a Crooked Rib Nurradin Farah April 2014
South AfricaCry the Beloved CountryAlan PatonApril 2011
South AfricaThe Whale CallerZakes Mda June 2018
South KoreaThe Vegetarian Hang KangJune 2017
South KoreaPlease Look After MomShin Kyong-sookDec 2014
SwitzerlandTwelve NightsUrs FaesFeb 2021
Turkey10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World Elif ShafakOct 2020
VietnamThe Mountains SingNguyễn Phan Quế MaiAug 2021
ZimbabweWe Need New NamesNoViolet BulawayoApril 2015
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