This is my challenge – which I’ve chosen to accept – I want to try to read one novel from every country in the world! Preferably a classic, something of the ‘best’ that the country has to offer, unless that is one that I’ve already read. If I can’t find a book by a native I’ll take a novel or other book written about the country by someone else, though I’d rather read a native voice. I’m aiming for a work that can tell me a lot about the country and its people. If I can, I’ll read it in the original language (which will slow me down a lot!) I’ve settled down to a rate of one book a month and it’s my intention to post my impressions of one of the books each month. I find I’ve already covered a lot of countries.
When I first started I was happy to read anything, but now I’m limiting myself to novels if at all possible – and I’m fairly sure that at the moment it’s not possible as there seem to be a few countries with no novels published. As these countries come right at the end of the project, and it will take me a few more years, I’m hoping that something will appear in time!
As to the definition of a ‘country’, I don’t intend to limit myself to any particular list (which will anyway probably be out of date by the time I finish.) I hope to include at least some territories, should-be countries and once-were countries if possible. I’m reading them in order of population size – largest to smallest, from China to Vatican City! Of course I’d already read books from quite a few countries before I started this project in 2011, so I’m going to read another one from those places.
Everyone gets to set their own rules – mine are: no audio books (great as they are, they count as a passive rather than an active reading experience for me); and no unpublished or, if at all possible, self-published books (I want anyone to be able to follow my trail). I will always love reading printed books (and, I have to admit, seeing them decorating my bookshelf) so I will give them preference over e-books, though this will no doubt become harder as the project proceeds. And although I want to avoid translations as much as possible, since I’ve only managed to read in ten languages I will unfortunately often be dependent on a second-hand version. My comments aren’t meant to be sophisticated literary criticism, just to give someone who might be tempted to give the title a try an idea as to what it’s like to read.
Lately my ‘month overseas’ has expanded to include also reading a title of travel literature on the country, listening to its music, trying to play some, watching its films (where possible), and trying to learn some of its language if it’s one I don’t know.
I’ll make a page for each country, and if you feel like making a suggestion as to what is the one book you’d recommend to someone as of the highest literary merit, the best read or the one that speaks most about that country, I hope you will do so to help me decide for the countries I’ve not yet covered, and for everyone else. Please feel free to do this for the countries I’ve already covered, too.
Here is a map of the countries I’ve read so far.