Books Read – Summer Catch-Up

Haven’t been updating over the summer, but I’ve certainly been reading (see little reviews). Here are some of the less well-known names:

  • Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, part of my short Arabic project. Palestinian / Iraqi writer, who actually wrote the book I read in English, hence the fact that I’ve still read no Arabic books this year.
  • Pío Baroja, a once famed Spanish / Basque writer, now completely unknown. There’s quite a bit of his stuff floating around on Project Gutenberg, for anyone who’s interested. Belonged to the Generation of ’98, along with fellow Basque, Unamuno etc.
  • Mário de Andrade, a Brazilian writer and important figure in the modernismo movement. Often seen as a (perhaps, the) precursor of magic realism (writing in the 1920s), but is perhaps as much of a precursor of post-modernism too (certainly ticks all the post-modernist boxes). – Really good, by the way.
  • Zsigmond Móricz, who seems to be considered the greatest Hungarian writer of prose in c20th (by among others Lazslo Nemeth and Peter Esterhazy). A few things of his translated into English (apparently, he’s one of those writers who loses a lot in translation). I also have Relations.
  • Beppe Fenoglio, an Italian writer. (It suddenly occurred to me I hadn’t read any Italians this year, and I do have a fondness for their literature – so now I’ve embarked on a lot of them).
  • Annie Ernaux, French novelist and currently writing. I read this in French, but it is available in English too, as are quite a few of her novels.
  • Henri Lopès, a novelist from the Republic of Congo (that is, the small ex-French colony centred around Brazzaville; rather than the sprawling ex-Belgian colony centred around Leopoldsville/Kinshasa). One of those novelists who also rose to be head of state in his country (or perhaps he was head of state first).
  • Romain Rolland, once a Nobel prize winner, now largely neglected – writer of realist roman fleuves.
  • Antonio Tabucchi, a marvellous Italian writer, with an obsession about Portugal (another Obooki Prize contender).
  • Wilson Harris, a Guyanese writer (yes, that strange English-speaking country in South America). Quite experimental, he’s still alive and writing in English, though to be honest I’d never heard of him till coming across on some list on The Neglected Books site.
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3 thoughts on “Books Read – Summer Catch-Up

  1. I just wanted to add my voice to the love being expressed for Antonio Tabucchi – never seen him referenced anywhere else (well, once I think, which lead me to Pereira Declares). His stuff seems to be hard to find without assiduous online browsing.

    The other names are all news to me, but that’s a good thing. The radar scope widens a fraction, thanks.

  2. Tabucchi is a writer who it’s easy to feel very fond of. – He’s similar in that way to two other writers I’ve read this year, Robert Walser and Jerzy Pilch.

    I think perhaps of all the western European countries, Italian literature is the one we ignore most and at the same time has the most good books to read. Another novel I’m reading at the moment is by Paolo Volponi. Now, I guess his name is pretty unknown – but he’s the only person to win Italy’s most presitigious literary prize, the Premio Strega, twice. Only two of his novels have been translated into English. He is quite difficult, so perhaps that is why.

  3. It’s a fair point about Italian writing. Some of their crime boyos are getting a lot of attention, but the ones I read (Carlotto and Lucarelli) weren’t up to much.
    I did recently read a fictionalised account of the Camorra’s reign in Calabria by Nanni Ballestrini, which was excellent, but he’s a poet by trade so I think it was a one-off novel. Saviano, who wrote Gomorrah, was his research assistant.

    I’ll be interested to see what you make of Volponi. I just bought As A Man grows Older by Svevo but don’t know when I’ll get to it.

    Agree as well about Walser: I read his (strange) collected stories, and the (I believe) more conventional novel The Tanners is on my shelf.

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