A few months ago, I started a project that will take me years: to read novels by authors from all countries, as much as possible depending on availability in Spanish, English or French. It turns out that I had read books by authors from some 40 countries (not necessarily novels, for example, I have read Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario, but no Nicaraguan novels). and so I started ammending that. I have three criteria:
1. Widespread recognition of quality / strong recommendation from a trusted source.
2. Availability in any of the said languages.
3. Accessibility via e-book or paper format.
So far I have read the following:
1. ECUADOR. "Cumanda", by Juan Leon Mera. (1877). The strong point is that Mera was born and raised in the Amazonian part of Ecuador, and so had an intimate knowledge of the tribes living there. In contrast with many European novels about "noble savages" or simply "savages" , this one has a real flavor. The story is very "Romanticism", with high-flying poetic language and a tragic love story, but well worth reading.
2. OMAN. "Earth weeps, Saturn laughs", by Abdulaziz Al Farsi. (2013). A small town in Oman serves as a microcosm where the major dilemmas of contemporary Islam are played out. The novel is poliphonic, with multiple narrators which give the different points of view of the community regarding the arrival of a new Imam, the clash between modernity and tradition, and the religious doubts of a university-educated young man. Very good.
3. DAGESTAN (Russia). "The Mountain and the Wall", by Alisa Ganieva. (2015). A rumor is spread that the Russians are building a wall to isolate Dagestan, the southernmost "republic" of the Russian Federation, from the rest of it, given the spread of Islamist radicalism that is ravaging the province. This is the story of a young man watching his world come apart.
4. SLOVAKIA. "Three Chestnut Horses", by Margita Figuli. (1940). This gem is narrated in the first person by an utterly unreliable narrator who is nevertheless and enduring young man. He comes back to search for the love of his life, sadly engaged to a ruthless, violent and alcoholic man. During the course of Peter's quest to recover his beloved, a wonderful glimpse of rural Slovakia is presented. Highly recommended.
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