Books From Around The World

It’s fair to say that much of my recent reading has been inspired by your recommendations left in the comments, often under articles that had little to do with literature (you have such eclectic interests!). Since it shall be a slow week with my US based writers and readers celebrating Thanksgiving, I thought that it might be a good chance for all of us to share more favorite books, especially those written by the less well-known authors. (This, of course, is relative; Eka Kurniawan may not be a household name in the US, but he’s famous in his native Indonesia.) Of course, please don’t feel bound by this and share your favorite writers, poets or essayists.

books1

I will start with The Girl From the Coast, a novel by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pramoedya is so famous in Indonesia that he’s usually referred to only by his first name. The story is about a girl from a backwater village who is married off to a Javanese aristocrat without realizing that she’d only be his “temporary wife” to be sent back home whenever he gets tired of her. The characters are outlined with humanism that pervades Pramoedya’s other novels, and the plot develops swiftly. It’s a good introduction to Indonesian literature, and I thank my readers who recommended it to me.

Another discovery thanks to one of you is Jaan Kross, an Estonian writer who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He started writing under the Soviet regime, and to conceal his criticism of the system he used events from Estonian history, deemed distant enough by the censors. His impressive research, his use of unique historical documents and his elegant writing style make his novels fascinating.  Only The Czar’s Madman and Professor Marten’s Departure have been translated so far into English (if you read French, you’re luckier; in general the French translate far more literature than their Anglophone counterparts).

The Czar’s Madman is set in 19th century Livonia, the territory which is now divided between Estonia and Latvia, and is about a man who stands up for his convictions. There is also romance in the mix, along with stunning Estonian scenery.

books2

Finally, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, Ukrainian writer, poet and philosopher. On the face of it, the story is simple–a journalist Daryna Goshchynska finds a photograph of Olena Dovgan, a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, who was killed in 1947 by Stalin’s police. Intrigued by her story, Daryna decides to make a documentary about Olena and in doing so stumbles across discoveries that change her life.

The genius of Zabuzhko is in weaving different voices and themes. She’s a modern-day Scheherazade, nesting one story into another, intertwining words into vivid images. Zabuzhko’s language is hypnotic and lyrical, with some passages being ethereal and powerful at once, an incredible combination. The English translation retains this quality.

Our entire culture is built on faulty foundations. The history we are taught is nothing but the clamor-increasingly deafening and difficult to disentangle-of voices out-yelling each other: I am! I am! I am! I, so and so, did this and that-and so on, ad infinitum. But the voices resound over burnt-out voids-over the silence of those who’ve been robbed of their chance to cry out, I am! Over those who had their mouths gagged, their throats slashed, their manuscripts burned. We don’t know how to hear their silence; we live as if they never existed. But they did. And their silence, too, is the stuff of which our lives are made.”

The drama is indeed in how to hear this silence, and while the context is Ukrainian, the problem is global and as relevant as ever.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope that everyone will enjoy a wonderful celebration. The usual Bois de Jasmin schedule will resume on Monday, November 30th.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

110 Comments

  • Shirinalzebari: Any book for perfume(s) lover? November 25, 2015 at 9:07am Reply

  • Portia: Hey Victoria,
    Do you know Amitov Ghosh from India? I love his writing but my favourite book of his is The Glass Palace, a saga over three generations through Burma and India. Great reading.
    Another author I reread regularly and am currently in the middle of his works is Gerald Durrell who began the idea of creating zoos to captive breed endangered animals. He was an avid naturalist from a very young age and grew up from India to England and Corfu. His stories still make me laugh out loud and I’ve been rereading them for decades.
    Portia x November 25, 2015 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t know either author, so thank you for your recommendations. I love multigenerational sagas, so I’m going to look for The Glass Palace. I finally starting keeping a reading diary again to write down what I read and sometimes my brief impressions. It’s so helpful. November 25, 2015 at 9:31am Reply

    • Karen 5.0: I heartily agree with you, Portia! I love Ghosh, too. I just finished the third book in his Ibis trilogy, Flood of Fire, which came out this year. The first two are: Sea of Poppies (2008) and River of Smoke (2011). All three are rather lengthy, but it doesn’t feel that way at all because the plot and characters and action are so captivating.

      Other unforgettable books: 15 Dogs (Andre Alexis); The Story of My Teeth (Valeria Luiselli); The Incarnations (Susan Barker); Underground in Berlin (Marie Jalowicz Simon); and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (there are four – the fourth and final one is The Story of the Lost Child, published this year). November 25, 2015 at 10:37am Reply

      • Elisa: I read Valeria Luiselli’s first novel (Faces in the Crowd) last year and enjoyed it a lot! November 25, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: My friend recommended her collection of essays, Sidewalks, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. November 25, 2015 at 3:37pm Reply

      • Victoria: I loved Ferrante’s Sense of Abandonment, but I found My Brilliant Friend difficult to get into. It’s still on my Kindle, so I might give it another try. November 25, 2015 at 3:31pm Reply

    • Annikky: Durrell was one of my favourite writers in my childhood/early teens – I compulsively read and re-read all his books that were translated into Estonian (and there were quite a few). Comfort reading at its best. November 25, 2015 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Katherine: It’s been many years – but thanks for reminding me of Durrell. I recall laughing out loud reading a description of his family in “My Family and Other Animals.” November 26, 2015 at 11:47pm Reply

    • Teresa: I love reading Gerald Durrell! I have read almost all his books but they are difficult to find in my country nowadays. Funny and such comfort reading. December 1, 2015 at 9:45am Reply

  • Figuier: This is perfectly timed Victoria, thank you, and all the recommendations sound thoroughly enticing! I just had a baby and have found myself tethered to the couch most of the day, feeding. Paperbacks are the solution, and novels that can be read slowly or quickly as circumstances dictate are especially suited 🙂 November 25, 2015 at 11:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Congratulations! 🙂 I wish you and your baby lots of joy together, and of course, I hope that your little ones grows big and healthy. November 25, 2015 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Solanace: Congratulations, Figuier! Wishing you all the best. Hope you are getting some sleep. (In case not, don’t worry, baby will sleep the entire night at some point, I promise you.) November 26, 2015 at 2:46am Reply

    • Alice: Congratulations! Enjoy these precious moments. My daughter is one and a half so I still remember when I first brought her home. This feeling of love is all encompassing. November 26, 2015 at 5:51am Reply

    • Michaela: Congratulations! That’s great news! November 26, 2015 at 7:58am Reply

    • Figuier: Thanks all! Sleep is proving hard to come by; but I am reading out loud a lot 🙂 My bedside book at present is Italo Calvino’s ‘Six Memos for the New Millenium’, which I’ve read many times but always enjoy. So that’s my suggestion for a non-English-language writer who’s been amply translated. November 26, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

      • Victoria: You’re impressive! 🙂 Such a creative way to get some reading done. I do hope your baby adjusts to a schedule that gives you some rest. November 26, 2015 at 12:37pm Reply

        • Figuier: Poetry especially seems to soothe her, but pretty much anything read in soporific tones seems to do the trick 🙂 November 27, 2015 at 7:32am Reply

          • Victoria: 🙂 Such a tender vision, you reading poetry to the little one. November 28, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’ll just rec my favorite book that I read this year: Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb (I read Lex Rix’s translation from the original Hungarian). It’s a novel about a couple traveling through Italy on their honeymoon; they run into someone from the man’s past, end up getting separated, and then each go on their own spiritual journeys. It’s hilarious, brilliant, strange, absolutely wonderful. November 25, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s why I love these threads. I may not even have discovered Antal Szerb’s work, but I just sent a Kindle sample, finished it while I was waiting for my dinner, and I’m downloading the whole book. Thank you. November 25, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

      • Nora Szekely: Oh, I’m so pleased that you mention a Hungarian author. The Pendragon legend is also great from Antal Szerb. I highly recommend Sandor Marai and Magda Szabo as well, their novels are gripping. I had to look up which authors’ books are available in English, Embers from Marai was a great success a few years ago though it has been written in 1942!
        As for other countries writers, I love to read nocels from exotic places.
        Laura Esquivel’ s Like water for chocolate from Mexico and Isabel Allende’s The house of spirits are magical books about love, loss and the courage to carry on.
        From smaller European countries I suggest Milan Kundera and Bohumil Hrabal from Czech Republic for typical eastern european humour. Henryk Sienkiewicz from Poland wrote dramatic novels in the 19zh century about Polish history. November 26, 2015 at 7:57am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Another famous Hungarian book: Anna Édes (1926) by Deszö Kosztolányi.
          I read it in the Dutch translation ”Anna”–édes omitted, so the irony of the title is lost: édes meaning sweet. Anna murdered her patrons in their bedroom. November 26, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

          • Victoria: Seems somewhat odd that they should omit it. You’re right, it’s not a trivial change. November 26, 2015 at 12:35pm Reply

        • Elisa: Nora, I also read The Door by Magda Szabo this year and I loved that one too! November 26, 2015 at 11:51am Reply

        • Victoria: One of my favorite Hungarian authors is Miklos Banffy for his The Transylvania Trilogy.

          Henryk Sienkiewicz and Bohumil Hrabal went straight on my reading list after I read a little bit about them. November 26, 2015 at 12:30pm Reply

          • Katherine: Nora, Victoria, thanks for the tip. I have at least one book on my shelf by Henryk Sienkiewicz – they belonged to my beloved grandmother Ada. She loved her birthplace Poland and lived in Vienna for many years. I think the Sienkiewicz I have is in English so I’ll take another look. November 27, 2015 at 12:04am Reply

            • Victoria: I ended up getting his With Fire and Sword. My reading list is now even larger, but it makes me all the happier. 🙂

              Your grandmother must have been such a character. I love getting little glimpses of her through your stories. November 28, 2015 at 2:53pm Reply

              • Katherine: Thanks Victoria. So surprised, but glad you remembered Ada through my comments. She was a kind, elegant, courageous and intelligent woman – I’m so lucky to have spent much time with her. She was an avid reader like yourself – always with a book or 2 or more at her side. She would’ve enjoyed your musings. I found her copy of Quo Vadis but it was “With Fire and Sword” I was looking for now that you mention it. Still looking. November 28, 2015 at 4:56pm Reply

                • Victoria: Whenever you mention her, even in passing, it’s always with much warmth! November 30, 2015 at 10:05am Reply

              • Katherine: I found Fire and Sword on the bookshelves my grandmother brought from NY when she moved in with my parents. My father said his grandmother (I remember her) used to read it to him and his sister when they were young. I guess it was meaningful . THe english translator Kuniczak, said his mother used to read it to him as well… January 11, 2016 at 10:54pm Reply

                • Victoria: I have since found a copy, and I just started it, so I thank you for an inspiration. January 12, 2016 at 8:41am Reply

                  • katherine: Thank you too! January 12, 2016 at 10:26pm Reply

        • Michaela: Second the recommendation for Milan Kundera. Not to forget Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis. November 27, 2015 at 7:39am Reply

          • Victoria: Have you read his With Fire and Sword? November 28, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Tomate Farcie: Some I’ve loved: Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman, Niall Williams A History of the Rain, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Half A Yellow Sun, Bahaa Taher’s Love in Exile and Elif Shafak’s Bastard of Istanbul and Forty Rules of Love

    I have so much to do that I’m going to read November 25, 2015 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also loved An Unnecessary Woman, which, by the way, was another recommendation in the comments here. I haven’t read anything else from your list. Mine is enormous, but I enjoy making the lists and then deciding which book to start next. November 25, 2015 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Leslie: I’m reading Orhan Pamuk My Name is Red and re-reading Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. They’re very well-known, but they’re some of my favorite authors. November 25, 2015 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: I liked Pamuk’s Istanbul very much, but I haven’t read anything else by him. (And it’s ok to share favorites, well-known or not). 🙂 November 25, 2015 at 4:14pm Reply

      • Leslie: Maybe.. I read Istanbul after I’m done with My Name is Red. It was slow at first, but now I cant put it down. November 25, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t gotten through the first couple of chapters of My Name is Red, but I still have the book. It’s not that I disliked it, but I also had difficulty getting into the flow of his writing. Istanbul was different. November 26, 2015 at 11:51am Reply

          • nozknoz: The same thing happened to me, in terms of starting but not finishing Red. IIRC, I felt there was a hidden code or mystery that I needed to figure out, that I should have taken notes as I read. I would have had to start over in order to do that and didn’t have time. I still have it somewhere… November 26, 2015 at 8:12pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, I also felt that I needed to keep notes. That book required an enormous amount of concentration, but it intrigued me, so I will definitely revisit. November 28, 2015 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Lavanya: I love Orhan Pamuk! Some people whom I have recommended it to didn’t love it (including my mom and cousin) but Museum of Innocence is one of my favorites!! November 30, 2015 at 7:11pm Reply

  • Leslie: I’d love to know if anyone has read Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. Since she won the Nobel Prize. November 25, 2015 at 3:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, so I’m also curious to hear what others who have thought of her book. November 25, 2015 at 4:14pm Reply

      • Leslie: Thank you, Victoria! On another topic, I finally bought a bottle of rose water and used it in black tea. My daughter entered the kitchen and asked if anyone brought roses. :0 November 25, 2015 at 4:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love the rush of scent when you first add rosewater to hot liquid. Very glad to hear that you’re enjoying it. 🙂 November 26, 2015 at 11:50am Reply

    • Therése: I haven’t read her Chernobyl book yet. I have however read and loved “War does not have a Woman’s Face”, “The Last Witnesses” and “Second Hand Time”. All of them are absolutely heartwrenching and amazing. November 26, 2015 at 3:15am Reply

  • sara: I’m reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle and wearing Fendi Theorema. I didn’t match my perfume to my book–on the other hand, my struggle would be to find another bottle of this gem. Who at Fendi decided to axe it? November 25, 2015 at 4:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, I know exactly what you mean. I have 1/4 bottle left, and I wish they kept it. It’s one of the best spicy fragrances. November 26, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

  • Jason: My recommendation is anything by Jose Saramago. Pure brilliance. November 25, 2015 at 5:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely on my reading list! November 26, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

  • Solanace: Adding a few Brazilian classics to this incredible list.

    Fiction:
    Machado de Assis, posthumous memoir of Bras Cubas (1881)

    Clarice Lispector Passion according to GH (1964)

    Anthropology (nothing technical, a very good, fluent read, exquisitely written):

    Darcy Ribeiro, The Brazilian people (1995) November 25, 2015 at 5:46pm Reply

    • Alice: Everything by Machado de Assis is a must read! Dom Casmurro was the last book I read. November 26, 2015 at 5:57am Reply

      • Solanace: Have you read his Midnight stories? November 26, 2015 at 9:45pm Reply

        • Alice: Yes! I enjoyed them. I now want to reread The Posthumous Memoir of Bras Cubas. November 27, 2015 at 8:05am Reply

    • Victoria: All of these authors are new to me, so this is a treat. Thank you for sharing. The only question–where to start? 🙂 November 26, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

      • Solanace: I’d say start with Machado. He is the greatest Brazilian prose writer, not much debate about it. Everything he wrote is good. Totally seconding Dom Casmurro, even better than Bras Cubas. November 26, 2015 at 9:44pm Reply

        • Victoria: Just sent the Memoir to my Kindle as well as Dom Casmurro. November 28, 2015 at 2:47pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Both of these books sound really lovely and very thought provoking. I’m especially interested in Jaan Kross’s books. Thank you so much for sharing these with us! November 25, 2015 at 11:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Kross is a great storyteller, but his historical research is also very interesting. I like historical fiction very much. November 26, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Alice: Thank you. These books go on my list immediately. I like literature that brings together personal dramas and historical events. I also would mention The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. November 26, 2015 at 5:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I do too. As I mentioned to Rickyrebarco, I really enjoy historical fiction as well as works on history.

      Loved The Tiger’s Wife! November 26, 2015 at 12:03pm Reply

  • Michaela: I would like to add to this list at least a Romanian author.
    I found some translated books I like on amazon.de:

    Max Blecher, Occurrence in the Immediate Unreality (1936). He was called ‘Kafka of Romania’. Rather ignored because he wrote before the communist era, and his writing was considered ‘decadent’.

    Another author I like very much is a contemporary historian, Lucian Boia. These books are well documented and funny:

    Entre l’ange et la bête : Le mythe de l’Homme différent de l’Antiquité à nos jours (1995);

    Forever Young: A Cultural History of Longevity from Antiquity to the Present (2004). November 26, 2015 at 5:55am Reply

    • Michaela: Thank you Victoria and everybody for the recommendations! They sound fabulous. November 26, 2015 at 8:03am Reply

      • Victoria: You’re welcome! Thank you for everyone else who shared. Such a treasure trove of interesting books to discover. November 26, 2015 at 12:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: More new-to-me authors! Thank you so much, Michaela. November 26, 2015 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Irazu: As a proud Basque, I’d like to make my own contribution:
    Bernardo Atxaga
    Obabakoak
    The Lone Man
    The Lone Woman
    The Fighter
    These are available in English.
    Thank you for this great idea in sharing books! November 26, 2015 at 6:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for an interesting list, Irazu! November 26, 2015 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Nick: Yesterday, I was asked if I read a lot, my answer was: ‘if it sparks my interest’.

    The Czar’s Madman has just done exactly that! Thank you for this post. My Estonian housemates mentioned some interesting names in our conversation and this seems to ring the bell. November 26, 2015 at 6:05am Reply

    • Victoria: If you like history, especially the 19th century European history, his works are worth reading for that reason alone. He provides a different viewpoint. There is also something very insightful about learning history of small countries like Estonia. Any place that has seen many invasions and yet retains and develops its own unique culture is fascinating. November 26, 2015 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Yulia: Fun topic! I mention Nikolai Leskov’s The Enchanted Wanderer when I’m asked about my favourite Russian classics. He isn’t that famous outside of Russia and even in Russia not as famous as he should be. November 26, 2015 at 6:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Leskov, Yulia. I haven’t read him yet. Our school program was heavily tilted towards the Russian classics, but they were all the usual suspects, so to speak. It was only at the university that I discovered Sologub, Bely, Bunin. I quickly checked, and it appears that a few of his works are available in English. November 26, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Speaking of Russian authors: long time ago I read the memoires of Paustovsky. I remember how beautifully he described nature. November 26, 2015 at 3:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: He does. I used to love reading his stories as a child.

          My favorite for the description of nature is Turgenev, though. In general, he’s one of my favorite Russian authors. November 28, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Therése: I was recommended Nathalie Saurrate Tropismes in a thread on this blog and I absolutely loved it.

    Whenever people ask me about Swedish classics I recommend “Doctor Glass” by Hjalmar Söderberg.

    I recently read my first ever book written by an author from Barbados, “Redemption in Indigo” by Karen Lord. It had me laughing out loud! November 26, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I also loved Tropismes (also read it after someone mentioned it here).

      Just sent Doctor Glas to my Kindle. I know many dislike the idea of an e-reader, but it’s so convenient. Of course, it doesn’t replace the actual book, library or bookstore; sometimes I get something on Kindle and then end up buying it in a paper version too. November 26, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

      • Therése: I’m considering buying an e-reader too, as a complement, not a replacement for paper books. I think It would be convienient to have one in some situations.

        I hope you like Hjalmar Söderberg! I found Jan Kross’ The Czar’s Madman at my local library so I’ll be reading that this weekend. November 27, 2015 at 3:09am Reply

        • Victoria: Definitely convenient, especially if there is a book you want to start reading right away. But it will never replace my bookshelves.

          The start is engaging, so I’m going to get the whole book. In turn, I hope that you enjoy Jaan Kross. Do let me know what you think. November 28, 2015 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Katherine: Thanks for your suggestions! I like a good laugh and being from the West Indies must have a look at Karen Lord’s book. November 28, 2015 at 5:01pm Reply

      • Therése: Katherine, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! November 30, 2015 at 2:54am Reply

  • orsetta: I’d like to add a Polish author, Olga Tokarczuk. I find her books truly fascinating.

    She’s been translated into English and Italian November 26, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m always looking to read more Polish authors, so your recommendation is perfect. November 28, 2015 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Let me add a Dutch author. Arnon Grunberg’s “Figuranten” and ”Fantoompijn” are extremely funny. Pure slapstick. I bet he has been translated in English. November 26, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Great! Thank you so much.

      I’m enjoying “Darius in the Shadow of Alexander” tremendously, so thank you very much for mentioning it. November 28, 2015 at 2:44pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Glad to hear it!
        Did you read Tom Holland’s translation of Herodotus? I didn’t. but I am sure it is vivid and colourful. With marvellous stories from Ancient Persia, as you doubtless know. November 28, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t, but I really want to, especially after reading some of his other works. Might a winter holiday project. November 30, 2015 at 10:03am Reply

  • Myroslava: Thanks Victoria for Oksana Zabuzhko’s Book on your recommended list. A couple of years ago I read the review of the Ukrainian edition of this book and wanted to get it,however,here in the US the choice of Ukrainian books is rather limited. Now,thanks to you, I’m looking forward to finding The Museum of Abandoned Secrets in English translation. Glad I discovered your blog,- what a breath of beauty and tranquility, to say nothing of perfume ! May God bless you ! November 26, 2015 at 10:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Zabuzhko was recommended by a friend, and I’ve started with her Field Research into Ukrainian Sex (available in English) and was completely taken with her style and her ability to tie different themes. I know what you mean about the limited selection of Ukrainian writers in English. Considering how diverse and rich Ukrainian literature is, it’s really a shame.

      Zabuzhko has a brilliant trilogy on Lesia Ukrainka, Taras Shevchenko and Ivan Franko, but alas, only in Ukrainian. I so wish they were translated.

      Thank you, Myroslava. I’m happy to meet you as well! November 28, 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

  • maja: Calvino has already been mentioned but I need to add his genius Difficult Loves. Brilliant, quirky stories. 🙂

    I’ve recently finished Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us and it was just beautiful and emotional read.

    p.s. My name is Red is not easy at all – I dedicated a whole month to it but it was worth it, thankfully. November 27, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re inspiring me to pick up My Name is Red again.

      Thank you for your other recommendations. I haven’t read any of them, so I’m happy to make more discoveries. November 28, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Maya: What a great topic! I’ve downloaded samples of writings based on some of the recommendations here and the full book Journey by Midnight. A few years ago I fortuitously discovered the incomparable Polish writer Bruno Schulz whose book The Street of Crocodiles (also known as Cinnamon Shops) is one of the most magical books I have ever read. Here is an entry about him from Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Schulz November 27, 2015 at 1:09pm Reply

    • orsetta: it’s so great to see this recommendation – indeed, he is one of a kind!

      i can also highly recommend his ‘Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass’

      as well as the film that was based on it November 28, 2015 at 4:15am Reply

      • Maya: I will look for the film. Read about it on Wikipedia. November 28, 2015 at 6:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Maya. I’m adding Bruno Schulz to my list as well. November 28, 2015 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Aurora: I recommend A View from the Harbour by Elisabeth Taylor, a vignette of a seaside town in England just after the war. It’s not a ‘showy’ book but masterful all the same, and gently ironic about human weaknesses. I’ve also read several short stories, she wrote many and they were of equally good quality, one The Ambush was especially moving. Have you read the saga A Suitable Boy, Victoria? I read it some years back with great pleasure. I’ve also read recently a very good biography: Elizabeth & Mary, Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn, I found the letter extracts in it especially entrancing (they never met). November 27, 2015 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t read A Suitable Boy, although I have read reviews. Perhaps, I should.

      Your other recommendations also sound fantastic, especially given my interests. I’m especially curious about Elizabeth & Mary, Cousins, Rivals, Queens, now that you’ve mentioned letters. November 28, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Great recommendations!
    I’d like to add a book by a Swiss author which I’ve read recently: Off Key by Alain Claude Sulzer. A star pianist stops playing the piano in the middle of a concert, closes the piano and leaves the hall. This is the central scene of the book and soon we begin to realise how the interruption of the concert triggers development in the lives of many other characters. A very nice read. November 27, 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another great recommendation! I’m off to look if I can find it at my local library or via a Kindle sample. November 28, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Goes on my list! For those who prefer German:
        ”Aus den Fugen”. November 28, 2015 at 4:31pm Reply

  • areaderofliterature: Hooray! You enjoyed The Girl From the Coast.

    If you’re interested in women writers from Indonesia, these I would recommend: Ayu Utami, Leila S. Chudori, and Laksmi Pamuntjak.

    Leila S. Chudori and Laksmi Pamuntjak are friends but their styles couldn’t be more different. Leila doubles as a journalist, so her style is clear and fluid, while Laksmi is also a poet so her style is lyrical and sumptuous.

    I like Ayu Utami a lot; she can do piercing journalistic observations in her novels, but her writing can be pure poetry as well. Unfortunately, I’ve heard rumblings that the English translation of her most famous novel Saman is not very good.

    In general, translations of women writers of Indonesia is harder to find and is more expensive, I think. Which makes me sad.

    Thanks for the recommendations, Victoria! I’ll look into them. I’m always interested in getting recommendations from global authors.

    On a separate note, what does anyone recommend for African writing? There is such a dearth of African lit on my shelves. November 27, 2015 at 9:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for more recommendations! I will try Saman and see how it goes. Lakshmi Pamuntjak’s The Question of Red caught my attention. I will see if my local store carries the French translation.

      I’ve only read Chinua Achebe, but here is a list I found that looks very interesting:

      http://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/The-10-best-African-writers-who-arent-Chinua-Achebe-20150430 November 28, 2015 at 3:12pm Reply

    • Lavanya: areaderofliterature – I’d recommend Ngugi wa Thiong’o Wizard of the crow!

      This is such a wonderful thread Victoria!! November 30, 2015 at 7:21pm Reply

      • Victoria: It really was a fun thread! My list is now enormous. 🙂 December 1, 2015 at 2:03am Reply

  • orsetta: another recommendation from me 😀

    Jan Potocki and The Manuscript Found in Saragossa.

    i will not exaggerate saying that it is one of the most unique books ever written.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/93180.The_Manuscript_Found_in_Saragossa November 28, 2015 at 4:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Well, I need no arm twisting to send a sample of The Manuscript Found in Saragossa to my Kindle. 🙂 Thank you! November 28, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I was reading Cicero’s speech in defense of Sextus Roscius, who was charged with the murder of his father.
    Brilliant speech, thrilling murder story. Very intriguing, because we will never know who did it. Roscius was set free, but that doesn’t mean he did not do it…I have my doubts.

    You can find a good translation by Michael Grant in the Penguin Classics. November 28, 2015 at 4:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! I love your recommendations. November 30, 2015 at 10:03am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2017 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.