RidgewayGirl Reads Around the World

KeskusteluThe Global Challenge

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RidgewayGirl Reads Around the World

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 18, 12:07 pm

The idea of a place to track my global reading across the years appeals to me, so here we go. I'll add the ones I've read so far as I've been tracking this, so this thread counts books from January, 2015 on.

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to count by author's nationality, limiting myself to five titles to any single country, only count an author once, and choosing to list only those titles that seemed to say something about the country in question. So a novel by a Belgian author set in Australia would not be counted.

Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2022, 3:24 pm

A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar (read in 2016)





Antigua and Barbuda

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (read in 2019)
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (read in 2020)
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (read in 2021)
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez (read in 2021)


The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (read in 2017)
The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett (read in 2019)
The Whispering Wall by Patricia Carlon (read in 2020)
The Dry by Jane Harper (read in 2022)



Muokkaaja: marraskuu 27, 2021, 1:49 pm




How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (read in 2021)


War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans (read in 2017)
The Public Prosecutor by Jef Geeraerts (read in 2017)



Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 6:55 pm



Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon (read 2019)
Where You Come From (orig. Herkunft) by Saša Stanišic (read 2020)

Call and Response: Stories by Gothataone Moeng (read 2023)

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha (read in 2018)



Burkina Faso


Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 2:54 pm


How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue (read in 2023)

Leaven of Malice by Robertson Davies (read in 2016)
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (read in 2018)
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie (read in 2020)
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (read in 2021)

Cabo Verde

Central African Republic


The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (read in 2020)
Nervous System by Lina Meruane, translated by Megan McDowell (read in 2022)

Frontier by Can Xue (read in 2017)
Rouge Street by Xuetao Shuang (read in 2022)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (read in 2017)
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (read in 2021)
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique (read in 2021)

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 28, 2021, 3:41 pm


Congo (Democratic Republic of the)

Congo (Republic of the)

Costa Rica

Côte d'Ivoire


The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier (read in 2021)


Czech Republic

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 27, 2021, 2:13 pm

The Woman from Bratislava by Leif Davidsen (read in 2015)



Dominican Republic

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 1, 2:00 pm


The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al-Aswani (read in 2022)
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (read in 2023)

El Salvador

Equatorial Guinea




Muokkaaja: joulukuu 3, 2021, 9:26 am


Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom (read in 2021)

The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère (read in 2017)
The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis (read in 2018)
The Years by Annie Ernaux (read in 2019)
The Margot Affair by Sanaë Lemoine (read in 2020)
At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop (read in 2021)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 12:00 pm




In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser (read in 2015)
At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl edited by Inge Jens (read in 2018)
1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel (read in 2023)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (read in 2017)
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu (read in 2021)







marraskuu 26, 2021, 8:33 pm




Muokkaaja: syyskuu 30, 2022, 12:42 pm


Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag (read in 2017)
A Burning by Megha Majumdar (read in 2020)


Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Refuge by Dina Nayeri (read in 2018)
Seasons of Purgatory by Shahriar Mandanipour (read in 2022)

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (read in 2018)

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín (read in 2015)
Smile by Roddy Doyle (read in 2018)
Snowflake by Louise Nealon (read in 2021)
Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan (read in 2021)

All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan (read in 2017)
Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua (read in 2019)

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (read in 2016)
First Execution by Domenico Starnone (read in 2019)
A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio (read in 2020)
The Dry Heart by Natalia Ginzburg (read in 2022)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 30, 2:25 pm

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 25, 2022, 6:00 pm




Korea (Democratic People's Republic of)

Korea (Republic of)
Human Acts by Han Kang (read in 2017)
Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun (read in 2022)

Crossing by Pajtim Statovci (country of birth) (read in 2022)



Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2022, 3:18 pm

Lao People's Democratic Republic


The Children of the Ghetto: My Name is Adam by Elias Khoury (read in 2019)







marraskuu 26, 2021, 8:50 pm








Marshall Islands



Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2022, 3:12 pm

Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue (read in 2017)
Tomb Song by Julián Herbert (read in 2018)
Tell Me How it Ends by Valeria Luiselli (read in 2020)


Republic of Moldova




Straight From the Horse's Mouth by Meryem Alaoui (read in 2022)



Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 21, 2022, 4:53 pm



We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama (born and raised in Nepal but ethnically Tibetan) (read in 2022)

The Ditch by Herman Koch (read in 2019)
Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwillem van de Wetering (read in 2020)

New Zealand
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (read in 2018)



Looking for Transwonderland by Noo Saro-Wiwa (read in 2017)
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (read in 2019)
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (read in 2020)
Lightseekers by Femi Kayode (read in 2021)
Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri (read in 2021)

One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad (read in 2016)

Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth (read in 2022)

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2022, 3:44 pm

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (read in 2017)
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (read in 2020)




Papua New Guinea




Death in Breslau by Marek Krajewski (read in 2016)
Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (read in 2017)
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (read in 2019)



Muokkaaja: marraskuu 27, 2021, 1:45 pm


Russian Federation
The Aviator by Evgenii Vodolazkin (read in 2018)
Klotsvog by Margarita Khemlin (read in 2019)


Muokkaaja: marraskuu 27, 2021, 1:34 pm

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


San Marino

Sao Tome and Principe

Saudi Arabia


The Tiger's Wife by Teá Obreht (read in 2019)


Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 1:12 pm

Sierra Leone




Solomon Islands


South Africa
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (read in 2017)
An Island by Karen Jennings (read in 2023)

South Sudan

Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (read in 2018)
Come On Up by Jordi Nopca (read in 2021)

Sri Lanka
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam (read in 2021)
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (read in 2023)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 18, 12:08 pm

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (read in 2023)



The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (read in 2016)
Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten (read in 2018)
The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag (read in 2019)

Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer (read in 2017)


Muokkaaja: marraskuu 28, 2021, 3:42 pm



Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah (read in 2021)

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (read in 2020)


An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie (read in 2020)


Trinidad and Tobago


Honour by Elif Şafak (read in 2016)
Dawn: Stories by Selahattin Demirtaş (read in 2019)



Muokkaaja: helmikuu 14, 12:19 pm



United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom
The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher (read in 2015)
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller (read in 2021)
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (read in 2021)
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy (read in 2023)

United States of America
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (read in 2016)
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell (read in 2021)
The Trees by Percival Everett (read in 2021)
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley (read in 2022)



Muokkaaja: marraskuu 27, 2021, 2:10 pm



The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (read in 2017)



The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini (read in 2016)
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (read in 2021)

marraskuu 28, 2021, 6:33 am

Welcome to the Global Challenge!

marraskuu 28, 2021, 3:14 pm

Thanks, Jackie. I love the idea of being able to track over multiple years instead of starting off fresh every January.

marraskuu 28, 2021, 8:11 pm

wow! thats quite the list! many I'd like to read as well. Im not good at keeping up with challenges but I like the idea of reading what other people are doing

marraskuu 28, 2021, 9:18 pm

>29 cindydavid4: What I like about this one is that it isn't tied to a single year and I can keep it up as I go.

marraskuu 28, 2021, 10:16 pm

yes, perfect! It would be easy to do, going through my shelves and my reading journals and seeing what I read when, and where it should go. Lots of countries Ive left out, but enough to make a start anyway

marraskuu 29, 2021, 9:39 am

>31 cindydavid4: I look forward to browsing your list!

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 29, 2021, 4:06 pm

The Trees by Percival Everett begins with an apparent double murder in Money, Mississippi. Then one of the bodies disappears from the morgue. When another man is found murdered, and the missing corpse is with the body, things get weird. And then two special detectives for the MBI (Mississippi Bureau of Investigation) show up to solve the crime and find the (again) missing corpse.

The Trees is a novel that defies easy description. It's a novel about lynching that is also really funny? A humorous novel about racism? Whatever it is, it's best book I've read this year.

joulukuu 2, 2021, 5:22 am

Welcome to another new member! x

joulukuu 2, 2021, 10:03 am

>34 starbox: Thank you! I'm thrilled to have a space here to keep track of my global reading.

maaliskuu 29, 2022, 4:36 pm

Struggling with her dissertation, a woman wishes that she could come down with some sort of injury or disease that would buy her some time away from teaching to finish it. When she becomes ill, leaving her too tired and unable to concentrate to work on it, it's hard for her to not see some sort of cosmic karma at work. Nervous System by Chilean author Lina Meruane and translated into English by Megan McDowell starts out seeming like a novel about how a woman deals with life with a chronic illness, but that's not what the author is interested in, turning to a larger exploration into the ways our bodies can fail, whether through injury, accident, disease or simply aging.

There's a lot less plot and a lot more ambiguity to this novel than I enjoy. I'm not entirely sure what Meruane was doing here. There were some interesting moments, but far too often, something interesting happened and is brushed aside for something less interesting. I'm glad the Tournament of Books pushed me well out of my comfort zone, but I'm happy to be back in it now that I've read this one.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2022, 1:38 pm

I've finished a book by Spanish author Virginia Feito, Mrs. March, but as the book was set in the US and all the characters were American, I'm not going to count it for this challenge.

I did read a book of short stories by Iranian author Shahriar Mandanipour. I'll add a review soon.

kesäkuu 29, 2022, 3:11 pm

In the middle of Casablanca, Jmiaa, a prostitute in her mid-thirties, lives with her daughter and a roommate, where she supports herself and her daughter and tries to have a little fun along the way. In Straight From the Horse's Mouth by Moroccan author Meryem Alaoui, and translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, Jmiaa tells her own story, how she went from a beloved daughter in a secure family to having to earn her own way in a society where women have very few options. And the reader accompanies Jmiaa through her current life, where she might just have a chance at something better.

Jmiaa is a fascinating character. She's not much given to self-reflection, but she's also not going to indulge in feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she lives her life in the moment, keeping nothing to herself. I'm not sure I'd want to know her in real life, but she's a fantastic character to spend a few hours with.

The picture painted of the seedier side of Casablanca was fascinating. The translator, Emma Ramadan, helpfully includes a glossary of untranslated words and explanations of the people and places referenced in the novel.

heinäkuu 9, 2022, 10:29 pm

Bitter Orange Tree by Omani writer Jokha Alharthi tells the story of a young woman attending an English university, where her friends are other foreigners, some also Muslim, some not. When she hears news that the woman she considers her grandmother has died, she is filled with regret for not giving her more of her time and affection while she could. While Zuhur becomes involved in the problems faced by her friends, she also spends time thinking about the life of her grandmother, whose life included both struggle and sacrifice.

This is a novel about women living within Islamic cultural constraints, but it isn't a novel about rebellion or breaking free. Zuhur and her two best friends, sisters from Pakistan, are content to live lives as they are expected to, although one sister decides to demand her own choice of husband. And for Zuhur's grandmother, it was never a question of choices, but of making the best of the life she was given. The different cultural perspectives and attitudes made for fascinating reading. The novel illuminated ordinary life in Oman in a way accessible to the Western reader, but not in a way that simplifies things.

heinäkuu 9, 2022, 10:47 pm

>39 RidgewayGirl: that does look intriguing. will have to look for that

heinäkuu 12, 2022, 3:19 pm

>40 cindydavid4: It's a really interesting look at Omani culture.

heinäkuu 12, 2022, 7:44 pm

Have you read celestial bodies? thats about Omani culture (think the author is) I had some problems with it but learned somethings too

Ill check out that book

heinäkuu 21, 2022, 4:52 pm

>42 cindydavid4: Jokha Alharthi also wrote Celestial Bodies. There really isn't much published in English that was written by an Omani author.

elokuu 17, 2022, 4:08 pm

Rouge Street is a collection of three novellas by contemporary Chinese author Shuang Xuetao, all set on Yanfen Street in Shenyang, an industrial city in northwest China, not far from the border with North Korea. The novellas focus on families, especially children, living through tough times. Memories of the Cultural Revolution and even the Japanese occupation are woven into these stories and there are fantastic elements that feel folklorish in tone and meld seamlessly with the gritty, realistic setting.

I was prepared for this book to be something that felt like homework. Instead, it was a delight. Each novella was very different from the others. The first was a generational tale, the second was a folktale-feeling story involving two children who were just trying to survive in the absence of parents who were capable of caring for them, and the final novella was a noirish tale of criminals and the detective hunting them down. The novellas are also inter-connected, making this feel more cohesive that the usual collection. These novellas were a wonderful introduction to a celebrated young Chinese writer. I hope more of of his work is translated soon.

lokakuu 9, 2022, 1:00 pm

He had asked me to give him something hot in a thermos bottle to take with him on his trip, I went into the kitchen, made some tea, put milk and sugar in it, screwed the top on tight, and went back into his study. It was then that he showed me the sketch, and I took the revolver out of his desk drawer and shot him between the eyes. But for a long time already I had know that sooner or later I should do something of the sort.

This happens on the first page of The Dry Heart by Italian author Natalia Ginzberg. The question isn't who but why and this novella carefully details the relationship between a naive young teacher, living in a boarding house and longing for a better life, and a reserved man in love with a married woman. First published in 1947, this novella is also a clear look at the choices available to women at that time.

lokakuu 9, 2022, 2:20 pm

ok that paragraph got my attention. will have to look for this

lokakuu 25, 2022, 7:32 pm

The Yacoubian Building sits on a once prestigious street in Cairo, a lovely European-style building with retail on the ground floor, apartments on the floors above and, on the roof, a labyrinth of small sheds, housing the people who work for the apartment owners and those lucky enough to get a space. Alaa al-Aswani follows a diverse group of residents as they negotiate their lives in a quickly changing Egypt. Everyone from an elderly and very wealthy man involved in a feud with his widowed sister, to an educated newspaper editor, forced to hide his homosexuality, to a young woman who has to work to support her family and so becomes the target of increasingly blatant sexual harassment, and a young man whose dreams are destroyed by the ordinary corruption of bureaucrats.

This is a vivid snapshot of what life was like in Cairo, at a time before the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, but when a religious extremism was on the rise, a reaction to the lack of opportunity for those without money or connections. al-Aswany also looks at the treatment of women and how they are expected to keep themselves removed from public life, as well as the stark disparity between the wealthy and those who are struggling to get by. The author treats all his characters, even the most reprehensible, with understanding and a clear-eyed compassion that made me feel invested in even the characters I actively disliked.

lokakuu 29, 2022, 7:49 pm

>47 RidgewayGirl: I totally loved that book!

lokakuu 29, 2022, 9:34 pm

>48 Cecilturtle: I liked it, too! I'm going to read more by al-Aswani.

lokakuu 29, 2022, 10:04 pm

>47 RidgewayGirl: The author treats all his characters, even the most reprehensible, with understanding and a clear-eyed compassion that made me feel invested in even the characters I actively disliked.

I always appreciate authors who do this. I may have to try this book

lokakuu 30, 2022, 2:42 pm

>50 cindydavid4: If you do read it, I'd be very interested in hearing what you think about it.

tammikuu 20, 4:46 pm

1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel follows a woman as she goes about her life in Berlin. She's struggling under the years of being a Black German woman, the cumulation of open racism and microaggressions (which are not that "micro" at all) wears on her, as does her brother's death to suicide. Her mother faced her own struggles, first as an openly punk girl in the DDR, then as the wife of an Angolan man who had to return to his country, leaving her to raise two Black children in a place that not only encountered very few non-white people, but where conformity was highly valued. As this unnamed woman thinks through her current relationship and remembers her past, she decides what form her future should take.

Told in short vignettes, this novel was easy to read, despite the way this format chopped up events and recounted them in pieces scattered across the novel. This is a format that I usually dislike as it feels lazy, like the author couldn't be bothered to write complete scenes, but it works for this novel, better than a more traditional format, allowing for breathing room in the more intense events. It also mirrored the protagonist's disorganized habits and how she is at an inflection point in her own life. There's a lot to think about in this book, which was longlisted for the German Book Prize.

helmikuu 7, 6:28 pm

Wow, wow, wow is Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz fantastic. It's a substantial book, and the first of a trilogy by a Nobel Prize-winning author and it certainly has the reputation as An Important Book, which put me off reading it despite having picked up a very nice copy over a decade ago. This book seemed like it would require effort and somehow I was never up for making the effort. And so when I finally pulled it down off of the shelf, I was astonished at how vibrant and fun this novel was, one of those rare novels where time disappeared while I was reading.

Set in Cairo, in the years before Egyptian independence from Britain, the novel centers on al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad and his family. In public, Sayyid is the life of the party, a fun-loving and generous man who loves nothing more than gathering with his friends, drinking and singing, and sleeping with a series of mistresses. At home, however, he is intent on having a strictly observant religious household, the women who stay home and never show their faces to anyone outside the family, and sons who obey his every order and remain free of all vice. At home, his genial personality transforms into one that is quick to rage. Each family member reacts differently to their circumstances and the novel concerns itself with domestic issues and the crises that pop up in ordinary life, until the dissatisfaction with being an occupied country is expressed in demonstrations and rebellion and the family has to adjust to these new circumstances.

Mahfouz writes so engagingly about ordinary life of a shopkeeper's family that it's impossible not to be drawn into their lives. He's clear about the restrictions placed on women and how onerous and damaging that is, while also showing how a rigid, patriarchal society harms everyone in it, even the ones in charge. He also goes into detail about what life was like in that time and place, in a way that makes me eager to jump into the second book of the trilogy.

helmikuu 7, 6:29 pm

When the American oil company first started work on the village's lands, the villagers were excited about the benefits and improvements that were sure to come. But what followed were lands destroyed and dying children, the water undrinkable and the village stuck between a company that insists that they'd like to help, but their hands are tied, and a government that silences anyone who might get in the way of the current arrangements.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue isn't a fun read, but it is an informative one. Mbue has made some interesting decisions about how she told this story, including the use of the first person plural for some chapters, a choice that works far better here than in other places I've encountered it. This is very much a book written by an African (Mbue was born in Cameroon and now lives in New York) for an American audience but it isn't a book that coddles the reader. It explains without over-simplifying. At heart, though, this is less a novel propelled by a story than one motivated by a cause.

helmikuu 8, 5:57 am

>53 RidgewayGirl: >54 RidgewayGirl: I am adding both of these to my ever growing WL!
There are so many books still waiting on my shelves because I am shying away from the expected effort, so your experience with Palace Walk is encouraging me to just go and try them!

helmikuu 8, 1:20 pm

>55 MissBrangwen: I fully expected Palace Walk to be one of those books I'm more happy to have read, than to enjoy the reading of it. I was wrong about it!

helmikuu 22, 4:46 pm

Set on a tiny island, off the coast of an unnamed African country, An Island by Karen Jennings tells the story of Samuel, an elderly lighthouse keeper, and what happens when a man washes up on the shore of his island. Samuel's history, including a long stretch in prison as well as years alone on this lonely island, inform his reaction to the strange man, with whom he cannot communicate.

I'm not sure what I think about this book. It's another book where details are deliberately kept vague in an attempt, I think, to make the story feel like a universal one. And, being told solely from the point of view of Samuel, the novel never reveals much about the stranger. This should work, but when the only point of view the reader has access to is a person who doesn't think deeply or understand much of what goes on around him, I'm not sure it does. Sorry to be so uncertain and ambiguous, but I'm not sure how I feel about it, not in a "there's a ton here to think about" kind of way, but more in a "this book makes me feel uncomfortable about its motivations" sort of way.

On a positive note, the island itself is crisply and vividly described, as are the lighthouse keeper's routines. His work to cultivate and tame his environment is described along with the constant maintenance that requires. Jennings also writes movingly about what it means to grow old and how it feels to have a body not up for what needs to be done.

helmikuu 27, 1:10 pm

You've been doing a lot of great "global" reading this year. Somehow, I can't get out of the U.S. so far, other than my opening read to Poland via Isaac B. Singer.

helmikuu 27, 1:35 pm

>58 rocketjk: The counterpoint would be that while I've moved around the globe, the books are mostly recently published, while you have been roaming through time.

helmikuu 27, 3:20 pm

>59 RidgewayGirl: Thanks for the understanding perspective. Cheers.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 5:12 pm

>60 rocketjk: Sometimes I look at all the directions I want to go with my reading -- around the world, through the amazing diversity of the US, into the past, into various genres, keeping up with the latest books, reading the various award long and shortlists etc... -- and I want to throw my hands up in the air in despair. I can only read one book at a time.

helmikuu 27, 5:12 pm

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka is a wild ride of a book. Maali wakes up dead in his hometown of Columbo, Sri Lanka with no idea of how he died. He has seven nights (moons) before he has to decide between going on to whatever eternity is or be trapped on earth as a ghoul. He desperately wants to find out how he died, but this is far from an easy thing to find out. The world of spirits, of ghosts and demons, isn't easy to negotiate and Maali was a photojournalist who took the kinds of pictures any number of groups and people would gladly kill him to stop from coming to light; he's also a gambler with debts, a man with many lovers and a partner whose father hates him. As Maali looks for ways to tell a friend where his negatives are hidden and looks for clues as to his quick and violent end, the world of the spirits and life on the streets of Columbo continues.

It took me several pages to find my footing with this novel, which leaves the reader as disoriented as the titular character as the author slowly reveals the structure of the novel and the framework of Maali's life and afterlife. There's a lot going on here, but stick with it, this is a rewarding and inventive novel.

maaliskuu 24, 6:10 pm

The only books I've ever read that were set in Botswana were the ubiquitous No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, so I was very happy to find this collection of short stories by a Motswana author.

I still go into the city sometimes. When it cannot be avoided, I, as we used to say, very-nice myself. I powder my face, paint my lips red, and subdue my body into skintight jeans. I brace myself for the city center and its deceptions.

The stories that make up Call and Response by Gothataone Moeng are all set in Botswana, most in the town of Serowe, but also in the Capitol city of Gabarone. Most are coming-of-age stories, mostly following young women as they try to find their way in a world sandwiched between traditional expectations and modern aspirations. The author grew up in Serowe, where she currently lives, but she attended university in the US and this collection is written with its western audience in mind.

Every winter, Mrs. Botho Kennekae's husband took time off from his driving job in the city and spent three weeks at the cattle-post, where he did whatever men did there--presumably off the softness they withheld from everyone to their cattle, for the cattle were the great loves of their lives, so beloved the men called them wet-nosed gods, so beloved the men agreed: without cattle, a man pined and lost his sleep; still, having cattle, a man fretted and lost his sleep.

Moeng writes well, but where she shines is in her character studies. From an earnest young man trying to avoid any sinful activity, to a lonely married woman who may not have told her family the truth about her life in Gabarone, all of Moeng's characters are wonderfully complex and full of life. I really enjoyed this peek into a place I know very little about.