Book Review: Assault on Paradise by Tatiana Lobo


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Costa Rica Author: Tatiana Lobo Title: Assault on Paradise Publication Info: Willimantic, CT : Curbstone press, 1998. Summary/Review: After completing this novel, I saw it described as a picaresque which is “a genre of prose fiction which depicts the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who…

Book Review: The Happiness of Kati by Ngarmpun (Jane) Vejjajiva


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Thailand Author: Ngarmpun (Jane) Vejjajiva Title: The Happiness of Kati Publication Info: New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. Summary/Review: Kati, a nine-year-old girl lives with her grandparents and dreams of her mother who left five years earlier.  Finally, it’s revealed that her mother has ALS and…

Book Review: The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Norway Author: Linn Ullmann Title:The Cold Song Translator: Barbara Haveland Publication Info: New York : Other Press, c2011 Summary/Review: This novel is a story about a family at seaside summer home and the young woman Milla who comes to work as their nanny, but goes missing and is…

Book Review: Jerusalem by Gonçalo Tavares


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Portugal Author: Gonçalo Tavares Title:Jerusalem Translator: Anna Kushner Publication Info: Champaign [Ill.] : Dalkey Archive Press, c2009 ISBN: 9781564785558 Summary/Review: This novel brings together several characters in one place for one event and then jumps back to show vignettes of each character’s life, building up to what all…

Book Review: The Castle of Whispers by Carole Martinez


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for France Author: Carole Martinez Title: The Castle of Whispers Translator: Howard Curtis Publication Info: Europa Editions, 2014 ISBN: 978-1-60945-182-0 Summary/Review: In 12th-century France, a 15-year-old  girl from a noble family named Esclarmonde escapes an arranged marriage by offering herself to God.  The form she takes is an anchoress,…

Book Review: Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Honduras Author: Horacio Castellanos Moya Translator: Katherine Silver Title:Senselessness Publication Info: New York : New Directions, 2008. ISBN: 9780811217071 Summary/Review: This short novel depicts the narrator as a man in exile hired to edit testimonies of indigenous people who’ve survived torture and slaughter at the hands of the…

Book Review: Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Croatia Author: Dubravka Ugrešić Translator: Ellen Elias-Bursác, Celia Hawkesworth, and Mark Thompson Title:Baba Yaga Laid an Egg Publication Info: New York : Canongate, c2009. ISBN: 9781847670663 Summary/Review: This is a novel in three parts.  The first part features a narrator’s concerns about dementia in her aging mother,…

Book Review: The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis


 Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Uruguay Author: Carolina de Robertis Narrator:Christine Avila Title: The Invisible Mountain Publication Info: Random House Audio, 2009. Summary/Review: This excellent debut novel tells the story of three generations of women – Pajarita, Eva, and Salome – against the backdrop of Uruguayan history of the 20th century.  The structure of a…

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Colombia Author: Gabriel García Márquez Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude Translator: Gregory Rabassa Narrator: John Lee Publication Info: Blackstone Audio (2014) (originally published 1967) ISBN: 9781482939682 Other books read by the same author: Love in the Time of Cholera Summary/Review: I always find it difficult…

Book Review: Cousin K by Yasmina Khadra


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Algeria Author: Yasmina Khadra Translator: Donald Nicholson-Smith and Alyson Waters Title: Cousin K Publication Info: Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2013 ISBN: 9780803234932 Summary/Review: Yasmina Khadra is the female pen name for the male Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul, which he adopted to avoid censorship of the Algerian army.  His…

Book Review: Life Form by Amélie Nothomb


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Belgium Author: Amélie Nothomb Translator: Alison Anderson Title: Life Form Publication Info: Europa Editions (2013) ISBN: 9781609450885 Summary/Review: Amélie Nothomb was born in Japan to Belgian parents, lives in Paris, and writes about the United States’ war in Iraq.  That’s the kind of worldliness I like for an Around the…

Book Review: The Man of Feeling by Javier Marias


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Spain Author: Javier Marias Translator: Margaret Jull Costa Title: The Man of Feeling Publication Info: New Directions (2003) ISBN: 0811215318 Summary/Review: This short meditative book is narrated from the perspective of a young opera singer who travels across Europe for performances.  On one of his journeys he shares a…

World Cup of Reading


So, the FIFA World Cup ended over a month ago, but I still used this year’s tournament as inspiration to revive my ongoing Around the World for a Good Book project.  The basic gist is that I’m attempting to read a work of fiction (in English or English translation) from every country in the world….

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón Title: The Shadow of the Wind Publication Info: Penguin Highbridge (Aud) (2005) ISBN:  9780786558186 Summary/Review: This is an epic, sprawling book set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, under the fearful reign of Franco.  A boy named Daniel is taken by his father to a mysterious bookshop called the Cemetery…

Book Reviews: Silver Stallion by Ahn Junghyo


Around the World for a Good Book selection for: South Korea Author: Ahn Junghyo Title: Silver Stallion Publication Info: New York, NY : Soho Press, c1990. ISBN: 0939149303 : Summary/Review: This unsettling book is set during a time that most American readers like myself will be familiar with, the Korean War (and that mostly from…

Book Reviews: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende


Around the World for a Good Book selection for: Chile Author: Isabel Allende Title: The House of the Spirits Publication Info: Bantam (1986) ISBN: 0553273914 Summary/Review: This is an epic tale following several generations of one dysfunctional family: the wealthy Trueba family of Chile.  There story is set against the trials and tribulations of 20th-century…

Book Review: The Story of the Madman by Mongo Beti


Around the World for a Good Book selection for: Cameroon Author: Mongo Beti Title: The Story of the Madman Publication Info: Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, c2001. ISBN: 0813920485 Summary/Review: A familiar story of post-colonial Africa where a newly independent nation suffers tyrannical and wasteful governments, the nation is divided by civil war, and…

Book Review: Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste


Around The World For a Good Book selection for: Ethiopia Author: Maaza Mengiste Title: Beneath the Lion’s Gaze Publication Info: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2010. ISBN: 9780393071764 Summary/Review: This is a beautifully written yet difficult to read book about Ethiopia in the 1970s.  Difficult to read mainly due to the violence and…

Book Review: The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel


Around The World For a Good Book selection for: Mexico Author: Laura Esquivel Title: The Law of Love Publication Info: New York : Crown Publishers, c1996. ISBN: 0517706814 By the same author: Like Water for Chocolate Summary/Review: This may be the first Around the World For a Good Book selection that is science fiction.  Esquivel’s…