world cup of literature: an even more beautiful game

Love football or hate it, you can’t ignore the World Cup. But if you’d rather read a good book, three percent is pitching readable works published this millennium from each World Cup qualifying country against each other.
On the day of the match, books from those countries will be reviewed, and given football style scores in the World Cup of Literature.
If you want to recommend a book from your country, today’s your last chance: just email
I’ve taken up the challenge to find a book from each of the 32 countries that I’ve read or want to read, and since this is the year of reading women, they are all by women. Here’s the list; I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Algeria: Assia Djebar, The tongue’s blood does not run dry
Argentina: Angélica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial
Australia: Amanda Curtin, Inherited
Belgium: Amélie Nothomb, Antéchrista
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Swannee Hunt, This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace
Brazil: Clarice Lispector, The Brazilian Bird of Prey
Cameroon: Léonora Miano, Dark Heart of the Night
Chile: Isabel Allende, Maya’s Notebook 
Colombia: Laura Restrepo, Delirium
Costa Rica:, Elizabeth Rosa Horan (ed.) The Subversive Voice of Carmen Lyra
Croatia: I’d love to say European Poet of Freedom Dorta Jrgić, but, like so many authors I’d have liked to include, she does not have a book published in English so it’s Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia
Ecuador: Alicia Yánez Cossío, The Potbellied Virgin
England, A. S. Byatt, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods has a translation link at least; it was shaped by her childhood reading of the sagas which her mother used to learn Ancient Norse and Old Icelandic.
France: Anne Pilchota and Cendrine Wolf – the Oksa Pollock series
Germany: Christa Wolf, City of Angels
Ghana: Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go
Greece: A totally biased attempt to include ancient writing on the basis of new translation – though it doesn’t include the new poems found this year. Sappho in Mary Barnard’s 2012 translation.
Honduras: The only one published last millennium – there just weren’t any in English from this one. Iberian and Iberian-American women authors need translators, and I need to learn Spanish and Portuguese! Medea Benjamin, Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks From The Heart: The Story of Elvia Alvarado
Iran: Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Italy: Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend
Ivory Coast: Véronique Tadjo, Far from My Father
Japan: Banana Yoshimoto, The Lake
Mexico: Ángeles Mastretta, Women with Big Eyes
Netherlands: Renate Dorrestein, A Heart of Stone
Nigeria: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus
Portugal: Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Shores, Horizons, Voyages. This is another author who had a better translator last millennium, but let’s try keeping to the rules.
Russia: Masha Gessen, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot
South Korea: Kyung-Sook Shin, Please Look After Mother
Spain: Carmen Laforet, Nada
Switzerland: Zoë Jenny, The Sky is Changing. She wrote this in English after moving to London, and she’s not the only author here to have more than one national tie – but the World Cup football teams are no different.
Uruguay: Cristina Peri Rossi, State of Exile
USA: Ursula K. Le Guin, Lavinia. She also reviewed the English book linked above, and translated the Argentinian one.


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Posted in Best Translated Book Award, books, international, literature, poetry, translation, World Cup of Literature
3 comments on “world cup of literature: an even more beautiful game
  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Great idea. Regards thom

  2. […] has the better translation, but Cameroon has the better story; it was on the shortlist I proposed this time last year. Keep an eye out on the Three Percent website for the results of “matches” up until the final […]

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