The goal was to read a book for each of the 12 selected countries, one per month, and here’s what I read:
- January (France) — Anna Gavalda, Hunting and Gathering
- February (Sudan) — Tayeb Salih, The Wedding of Zein
- March (Wales) — Peter Ho Davies, The Welsh Girl
- April (South Pacific Islands) — Jill Shalvis, The Trouble with Paradise
- May (Belgium) — Dorothy Dunnett, Niccolò Rising
- June (South Korea) — Samuel Park, This Burns My Heart
- July (Israel) — Etgar Keret, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door
- August (Palestine) — Matt Beynon Rees, The Collaborator of Bethlehem
- September (Brazil) — Luis Fernando Verissimo, The Club of Angels
- October (China) — Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
- November (Egypt) — Mary Doria Russell, Dreamers of the Day
- December (Argentina) — Adolfo Bioy Casares, Asleep in the Sun
This was a really interesting challenge for me, since I normally stick to British and American authors. I enjoyed reading outside my geographical comfort zone and will make an effort to read more globally in the future.
My favorite books from the challenge were Hunting and Gathering, a charming love story with depth; The Wedding of Zein, which seemed both specific to Sudan and yet also universal; and The Club of Angels, which was bizarre and sinister and philosophical — but funny! On the other hand, I didn’t particularly enjoy The Welsh Girl, and I HATED Niccolò Rising!
Anyway, I won’t be participating in this challenge next year — I think I’ve already overcommitted myself! — but if you’re interested in broadening your literary horizons, the sign-up post for 2014 is here (and there are some format changes, so take note!).