Friday, July 09, 2010

Kick Back and Read: A Contest

by Lauren

Folks, if you’ve spoken to me in the last month, you’ll know that I have a serious case of World Cup fever. As a child, I was a devoted soccer player and a fairly good goalie, if I say so myself. While I’m something of a fair-weather soccer fan now, every four years I get really, really into it again. I’ve spent the last few weeks on a rollercoaster of excitement (Impressive goals! Beautiful men with even more beautiful accents! Delightful tonsorial choices!) and disappointment (my top three choice teams going out in a blaze of something other than glory). While I gear up to see my (fourth) favorite in the final, inexplicably not doomed by my supporting them, I’m also starting to feel withdrawal.

Now I’m the one who sells foreign rights around here, but I’m not particularly widely read on books in translation. In the spirit of improving that and keeping the World Cup buzz part of my life a bit longer, let’s have some fun here:

Below is a list of the “teams” in the tournament. I’m going to start this off at the round of 16, even if that means excluding Italy (sob). Here’s where you come in: in the comments below, give a shout out to your favorite book from a country listed. The first book named from each is getting selected for the national team! Next week, before I head out on vacation, I’ll set you up with the head-to-head battles. Then while I’m away, you guys can vote for your favorite book in each match. We’ll take this on through to it’s logical conclusion: the World Champion, which I’ll promise to read and report back on—and I’ll send the person who nominated said book a copy of something from the list they’d like to check out.

Fine print: books must have been translated into English, because I don’t know any other language well enough to read in it. (Way back when, my trusty French-English dictionary and I trudged through a few, but let’s just say that neither of us enjoyed it.) Let’s see if we can’t get books in for the US and England that were published in those countries but not originally in English. And if we can’t come up with something for a country that doesn’t export a whole lot to the US, the best argument for including a book for that country gets called up, much like those athletes who play for the team grandma was from instead of the one they’ve lived in their entire lives.

Don't have any favorites for countries that haven't already been taken?  Get in the game by suggesting a new name for this contest, because mine is terrible.
  • Uruguay
  • South Korea
  • USA
  • Ghana
  • Netherlands
  • Slovakia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Germany
  • England
  • Paraguay
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Portugal


  1. Chile: The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my all-time favorites :)

  2. England--1984

  3. Germany: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

  4. Japan- Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

  5. Portugal: Ensaio sobre a cegueira (aka Blindness) by José Saramago

  6. Argentina: Labyrinths (Borges).

  7. Mexico: Juan Rulfo The Burning Plain and Other Stories

  8. Brazil: City of God, Paulo Lins

  9. Actually, The House of the Spirits was originally published in Spain (Barcelona 1982). Allende is from Chile, but the book itself was published in Spain.

  10. Uruguay - The Shipyard by Juan Carlos Onetti

  11. Germany: THE TIN DRUM by Gunter Grass.
    Spain: THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

  12. Ghana: The Dilemma of a Ghost by Ama Ata Aidoo

  13. Okay, so no one has filled out a few categories. I really like this idea, so I'll suggest some, but, please, if you've read something you better, feel free to suggest.

    South Korea – Ahn Soo-kil Northern Kando
    USA – Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
    Netherlands – Leonhard Huizinga Adrian and Oliver
    Slovakia – Peter Jaros Millenial Bee
    Paraguay – Augusto Roa Bastos I, The Supreme

  14. (Oh, wait, I guess we can't get Millenial Bee, Adrian and Oliver, and Northern Kando in the U.S. Sorry! Sigh.)

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