Favourite Reads of 2018

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Out of the 121 books I read this year, nine were outstanding: well-spent reading time. They are as follows:

  • The World Goes On Lászlo Krasznahorkai (Hungary), translated by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet, and Georges Szirtes, Tuskar Rock Press, 2017.

  • Chronicle of the Murdered House Lúcio Cardoso (Brazil), translated by Margaret Jill Costa and Robin Patterson, Open Letter, 2016.

  • Homesick for Another World Ottessa Moshfegh, (USA), Jonathan Cape, 2017.

  • I am the Brother of XX Fleur Jaeggy (Switzerland), translated by Gini Alhadeff, New Directions, 2017.

  • Old Rendering Plant Wolfgang Hilbig (Germany), translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, Two Lines Press, 2017.

  • The Imperfectionists Tom Rachman (UK), Quercus, 2010.

  • Berta Island Javier Marías (Spain), translated by Margaret Jill Costa, Hamish Hamilton, 2018.

  • Belladonna Daša Drndić (Croatia), translated by Celia Hawkesworth, New Directions, 2017.

  • Flights Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translated by Jennifer Croft, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017.

2018 Reading Data

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121 books read in 2018; 31942 pages

105 were books in English translation; 16 written in English

103 different authors: 74 male, 47 female

67 different translators: 36 male, 31 female

31 different countries

58 publishers with Fitzcarraldo Editions and FSG tying for the most with 7 each

oldest book published in 1933 and most recent in 2018

83 novels; 38 short story collections

Within Reach

My short story “Within Reach” was just published by borrowed solace in their new Home themed issue. For now it is only available with an inexpensive purchase of a digital issue. It is a beautiful journal with impressive photographs on each page. Glad to be a part of it.

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The Laughing Monsters & Jesus' Son

The Laughing Monsters Denis Johnson (USA), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.                        Jesus’ Son Denis Johnson (USA), Reclam, 1992.

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The Laughing Monsters is a literary thriller which takes place throughout western Africa. There are exploitative spies, missionaries, and politicians, all pursuing their self-interests at the cost of Africans and the African environment. Superb settings and characters amongst a degraded environment, and a lot of fun.

One of the characters from a short story in Jesus’ Son says, “Because we all believed we were tragic, and we drank.” This quote sums up quite nicely what takes place in this excellent collection. From the Midwest, to the west coast, Johnson populates his stories with soul-searching characters who abuse alcohol and drugs in an endless pattern of self-destruction. And yet, these stories and characters stand out with their extreme humour and unavoidable sympathy, making this an excellent collection of well-written stories.

Another Country

Another CountryJames Baldwin (USA), The Library of America, 1962.

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What an incredibly fantastic read. I have read Baldwin before, but this time I was really taken in by his prose and the story he had to tell. Another Country takes place mostly in Greenwich Village in the late fifties. The race and gender relations discussed in the book, unfortunately, resonate in today’s United States: sadly, not much has changed. This does not come as a surprise, yet it is amazing that Baldwin spoke so eloquently about these issues sixty years ago and we still struggle with identity today.

The theme of another country is obviously prevalent in the novel. It involves geographic countries and cities, but also our individual and group ‘countries’ we develop, with all the border and political turmoil that take place in geographic countries. The situations in the book deal beautifully with this theme and the struggle to understand and appreciate ourselves and others. Highly recommended!

Cities I've Never Lived In

Cities I’ve Never Lived In Sara Majka (USA), Graywolf Press, 2016.

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Sara Majka mines the fragility and sadness of men and women in this collection of short stories which take place primarily on the Northeast coast of America, in cities, suburbs, and isolated islands. The people in these stories live difficult lives and spend most of their time leaving one place in search of themselves somewhere else. There is not much redemption or discoveries in the stories, just sadness and endless struggles, in spite of the connections they continually make. This is a well-written collection with drawn out character flaws, personal disappointments, and plenty of self-destruction.

Charges

Charges Elfriede Jelinek (Austria): 2013; translated by Gitta Honegger, Seagull Books, 2016.

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Jelinek tackles the European refugee crises, specific real-life events which took place in Vienna and throughout Europe. Charges consists of three independent, yet related, performance texts, comments by Honegger, and a conversation between author and translator. Jelinek’s three texts are difficult to follow but are supported by Honegger’s comments, without which, a reader might be quite lost. The monologues are closer to nonfiction than fiction and the likes of which can be seen still occurring worldwide. Charges is a sober, and very good read with its fingers directly on the pulse of the continuing refugee crises.