Read a book from each country in Europe.

(133 Posts)
sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 18:32:47

I was just reading an article about someone who had a goal to read one book from each country in the world and it has inspired me to start my own project to read a book from each country in Europe.

I want to read a novel or a biography or something along those lines and it must be set on the country with an author from the country.

So, do you have a favourite author from your country? Do you have a book recommendation?

I'm thankful for all suggestions, even if you aren't from the country the book is from.

Try Suite Francaise by Irene Nemerovsky (sp?) - a really interesting read about fleeing occupied France though sadly unfinished sad

RabbitPies Sun 04-May-14 18:38:59

From France I love Marcel Pagnol's books,especially Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources collectively known as L'eau des Collines. They won't be to everyone's tastes though.

I want to do this myself now.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Sun 04-May-14 18:41:22

Odessey from Greece

Kveta Sun 04-May-14 18:43:39

Milan kundera - the unbearable lightness of bonking being - set in Czech republic by a Czech author.

The Henning mankell wallender series are Swedish and set in Sweden iirc.

There was a book about a hare I read which was Finnish by a Finnish author.

AlexVause Sun 04-May-14 18:45:34

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Sweden.

joanofarchitrave Sun 04-May-14 18:48:20

Brilliant idea, will read with interest smile

I don't have much to offer on this - I keep coming up with kids' books.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-May-14 18:49:59

Sophie's World, or The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder from Norway.

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis from Greece.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sun 04-May-14 18:54:24

Lithuania - Between Shade of Grey by Ruta Sepetys. Amazing, tells of deportations to Siberia post WW2. Although I think the author is American it is based on her family's true story (as far as I can remember).

thanksamillion Sun 04-May-14 18:58:16

Hmm there aren't many books written by Moldovans and certainly not ones translated into English.

The closest you can get is probably Playing the Moldovan's At Tennis by Tony Hawkes who has kind of become an honorary Moldovan for his continued interest in the country.

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 04-May-14 18:58:43

Requiem for a Spanish Peasant.

it's wonderful.

Or The Shadow of the Wind by Zafon.

Requiem is wonderful though.

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 04-May-14 19:00:07
sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 19:00:28

Great suggestions so far! Thanks!

Shartibartfast Sun 04-May-14 19:03:09

This is going to be a pretty hopeless post, but there's a book by a Spanish author set in turn of the (last) century Barcelona - Juan something Zafon, I think, and the book is Shadow of the Wind (I think!)

There's Kate Mosse 's trilogy set around Carcassone, and how about Child 44 ( Tom Rob Smith) for Russia?

I seem to remember that Middlesex by Geoffrey Eugenidies was set partly in Greece..... Or it maybe another book if his. Sadly I left that one in a hotel room so never got round to finishing it!

thanksamillion Sun 04-May-14 19:07:54

Ooh there's a good one called Burying the Typewriter by Carmen Bugan from Romania which is all about growing up under Ceaucescu.

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 04-May-14 19:07:58

Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Greece

Room With A View- Italy

Doctor Zhivago- Russia.

treaclesoda Sun 04-May-14 19:08:44

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova covers quite a few European countries, notably Hungary, although the author is American. Not sure if that counts, but it's a good read anyway!

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 04-May-14 19:08:46

Don't read The Island or The Return by Victoria Hislop.

The Island is OK, but the Return is a pile o'shite.

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:12:34

Cheating a bit, but Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson covers a lot of Europe.

I am lookinjg up belgian authors but not many of them have been translated to English.

BertieBotts Sun 04-May-14 19:15:59

It's a children's book but When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is one of my favourite books of all time. Actually I didn't realise until I looked it up just now but it's autobiographical - the author was born German but had to leave because of Nazi persecution and now lives in Britain where she has been most of her life.

Kveta Sun 04-May-14 19:18:15

The year of the hare by arto paasilinna is the Finnish one. Lovely book.

znaika Sun 04-May-14 19:21:43

May I recommend a short story by Gogol called "Taras Bulba" a horrific and excellent read and very timely too- gives an insight into the mighty Ukrainian cossack spirit!

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:26:59

Loads of Irish authors, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Frank McCourt.

Tenrec Sun 04-May-14 19:30:09

Does anyone have a good Latvian one? I recently found a few kid/nursery rhyme books which I was given by my birth mother, but no adult ones.

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:32:54

Agatha Christie's Poirot and of course Tin Tin for Belgium. I have to admit, never read them myself.

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 04-May-14 19:34:22

Agree with Requiem for a Spanish peasant. We did it at Uni, poignant story.

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:41:25

Grimm's fairy tales for Germany/ Hans Christian Anderson for Denmark.

HermioneWeasley Sun 04-May-14 19:42:51

I enjoyed "the visit of the royal physician" which is set in Copenhagen and was translated from Danish.

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:43:35

The 100 year old man who jumped out of the window and disappeared (Sweden).

Loads of Scandinavian/Icelandic detective books.

Scotland is easy too - Ian Rankin/Alexander McCall Smith.

I'd second The Historian by Ana Kostova. Wonderful book.

kelda Sun 04-May-14 19:47:56

Diary of Anne Frank (Holland)

Verycold Sun 04-May-14 19:49:09
Bluestocking Sun 04-May-14 19:51:14

Finland: Any of Tove Jannson's wonderful Moomin books - she was a Swedish-speaking Finn. Don't be fooled into thinking they are children's books, they are for discerning readers of all ages!

Spain: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee - although he was English, this is a great book about Spain in the 1930s.

Germany: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass. Weird, spooky, fantastical.

Greece: Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. A classic and hugely evocative of its time and place.

France: Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. How Emma Bovary would have loved MN! (In fact, I think I feel a spoof AIBU coming on).

Simone de Beauvoir: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. I love a childhood memoir and this is a wonderful one.

Inkspellme Sun 04-May-14 19:52:31

from Ireland:

maeve binchy's "light a penny candle". A wonderful story about a london girl evacuated in ww2 to Ireland and her life long friendship with the family she is evacuated to.

John Boyne's "the thief of time" is excellent to.

Is Henri Charriere's book "Papillon" French?. Great story.

revolutionarytoad Sun 04-May-14 19:55:34

Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic (Bosnia?)

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Holland)

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

My Life- Marc Chagall (Russia)

Aimee & Jaguar- Erica Fischer (Germany)

My Mother's House- Colette (France)

Don't think I've read anything Spanish ever but that'd be easy, be Marquez wouldn't it.

not very original! makes me realise how limited my reading is!

Karenthetoadslayer Sun 04-May-14 19:55:40

Fruttero et Lucentini, any one of their books, but especially "L'amante senza fissa dimora". smile

From Italy.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 04-May-14 19:56:44

'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini (Afghan/American writer)

'Perfume' by Patrick Suskind" (translated from the German)

Loved both of these.

oricella Sun 04-May-14 19:58:49

Arthur Japin, the two hearts of Kwasi Boachi... Dutch, with a touch of Africa and Java. Based on a true story..

revolutionarytoad Sun 04-May-14 19:59:48

I also read a kid's book recently called The Hungry Wind (by Soinbhe Lally) about some Irish kids who get sent to Australia during the famine.

Bluestocking Sun 04-May-14 20:00:32

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was Colombian.

Another Finnish suggestion, The Summer Book by Tove Jannson, who wrote the Moomins books. It is a beautiful part fiction, part memoir story set at her family's summer home in Finland.

somewherewest Sun 04-May-14 20:03:40

For Ireland I would recommend John McGahern's Amongst Women. There are also several wonderful stories in James Joyce's Dubliners. My favourites are A Painful Case and The Dead.

Suttonmum1 Sun 04-May-14 20:04:05

There are always good recommendations at the back of the Rough Guide books.

Allalonenow Sun 04-May-14 20:05:36

The Reader by Bernhardt Schlink from Germany, wonderful book.

somewherewest Sun 04-May-14 20:05:36

Just wanted to add that most of the stories in Dubliners are very accessibly written. Joyce didn't go entirely impenetrable for a little longer!

starkadder Sun 04-May-14 20:05:53

I Served the King of England by Hrabal (Czech) is excellent.

starkadder Sun 04-May-14 20:07:19

Also Blindness by Jose Saramago (Portugal). A bit weird but v beautiful and memorable.

znaika Sun 04-May-14 20:10:26

My Life by Chagall could be Belarus not Russia.

Allalonenow Sun 04-May-14 20:10:40

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman (Poland) heartbreaking but wonderful too.

HazleNutt Sun 04-May-14 20:12:03
Igneococcus Sun 04-May-14 20:12:14

If I had to chose my favourite German book it would be

Igneococcus Sun 04-May-14 20:13:53

bloody phone
favorite German book would be Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, closely followed by Sten Nadolny's Selim oder die Gabe der Rede

MaddAddam Sun 04-May-14 20:16:58

Poland: Esther Hautzig "The endless steppe" is a Polish book (about being deported to Siberia in ww2, there seem to be a few similar books on the thread). not set in the country though so that might fail the OP's rules. I can't think of any other Polish books.

Czech Republic. Milan Kundera, "the unbearable lightness of being".

Austria "The von trapp family" which is the Sound of Music story. Or Edmund de Waal "The hare with amber eyes". Set in Vienna.

Switzerland - Heidi. If you allow children's books.

Portugal - can't think of anything at all.

paperclip2 Sun 04-May-14 20:17:24

Great idea!
I've read all of the following (except one) and they are all very very good.

'Angels of the Universe' by Einar Mar Gudmundsson
'Independent People' by Halldor Laxness

'Dina's Book' by Herbjorg Wassmo - once you start reading this you can't put it down
'Kristin Lavransdatter' by Sigrid Undset
'My Struggle 1' by Karl Ove Knausgaard - I haven't read this one yet but it is a much talked about, brutally honest autobiographical novel.

'Blackwater' by Kerstin Ekman
'Roseanna' by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo - the first of a series of ten crime novels set in Sweden in the 60s - these were the beginning of Scandinvian crime fiction (and the best of the lot).

'The Summer Book' by Tove Jansson

'Purge' by Sofi Oksanen (she is Finnish/ Estonian and the novel takes place in Estonia)

Allalonenow Sun 04-May-14 20:23:33

Bruges la Morte by Georges Rodenbach (Belgium)

KiaOraOAotearoa Sun 04-May-14 20:27:19

Ok, see if I can do this (fab idea btw)with only the authosr I personally read.

Austria: Bernhard and/or Stefan Zweig
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Croatia:Edo Popovic, Dumbravka Ugresic
Czech Republic:Kafka
Denmark:Soren Kierkegaard (philosopher, brilliant!)
France: I read most Honore de Balzac believe it or not. I had a phase in my youth. Also Jean Jaque Rousseau.
Germany:Patrick Suskind 'Perfume'
Greece: Plato, Homer... Can't remember any modern onessad
Hungary:Sandor Marai
Iceland: Gunnar Gunnarsson
Ireland:Beckett, Swift, joyce
Italy: Goliarda Sapienza : The art of joy (reading atm)
The Netherlands: Cees Noteboom. Love him!
Norway:Knut Hamsun
Poland:Sienkiewicz, particularly enjoyed Quo Vadis, do try it.
Portugal:Jose Saramago
Romania: Eliade, Camil Petrescu
Russia: Dostoievsky, Tolstoi, Cehov. Really. Most of what they wrote.
San Marino
Spain: Borges is my favourite. Beautiful!
Sweden: Astrid Lindgren
Turkey: Elif Shafak, she is amazing!
United Kingdom: gosh, lots, but it doesn't count, I live here
Vatican City


paperclip2 Sun 04-May-14 20:27:59

'Dark Matter' (English translation, US version is called 'In Free Fall' ) by Juli Zeh

'The Bridge on the Drina' by Ivo Andric

'The Siege' by Ismail Kadare

'Blindness' by Jose Saramago

I've read all of these and they are all very very good.

KiaOraOAotearoa Sun 04-May-14 20:30:11

blue thank you so much for reminding me of Kazantzakis, he is absolutely amazing!

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 04-May-14 20:30:45

Kafka - Czech republic
Miklos Banfy - Hungary

sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 20:36:22

Great suggestions! I will make a list of countries, look through the book suggestions here and see what I have and what is missing. I'll check out your book suggestions on Amazon and see which one take my fancy.

I'll post my list here, so watch this space...

sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 20:37:07

It might take me a few days to finish the list though, so don't spend too much time watching...

brokenshoes Sun 04-May-14 20:38:04

Brilliant idea. My reading has pretty much gone out of the window since DD was born, but this is inspiring me to read more.

sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 20:48:39

Which book do you think I should read to represent the UK? I think it should be something contemporary, and not something that I have read before (obviously you don't know this, but I'll choose one I know I haven't read).

Kveta Sun 04-May-14 20:49:25

maybe something from the town/area you live in?

sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 20:50:55

I live in Norway, but otherwise that would be a good idea! I have family in the Lake District. It must have inspired a good few authors.

sonjadog Sun 04-May-14 20:51:18

Apart from Beatrix Potter.

Kveta Sun 04-May-14 20:56:20

in that case, either the new J K Rowling (her Cormoran Strike novel), or Capital by John Lanchester for London.

A Stuart MacBride for Aberdeen (and because they are brilliant crime fiction novels).

Denise Mina for Glasgow.

um. I haven't read much since the DC arrived...

KiaOraOAotearoa Sun 04-May-14 20:57:29

I like how Rose Tremain writes. The long road home is brilliant.

redexpat Sun 04-May-14 20:58:18

The visit of the royal physician by Per Olav Enquist. Ok the author is Swedish, but it's a good historical novel.

Number the stars - Lois Lowry. Again she's american, but beautiful children's book about German occupation in WW2.

Smila's Sense of Snow - Peter Høeg

Failing that Hans Christian Andersen or Karen Blixen. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

redexpat Sun 04-May-14 20:59:15

Oh yes and Rose tremain wrote Music and Silence which is anohter historical novel about Denmark. Beautiful beautiful story telling.

cardamomginger Sun 04-May-14 21:04:53

OP - I do a variant of this. Whenever I go away, I try and read a book set in the place I am visiting, preferably written by a native of that country.

The Radetzsky March by Joseph Roth. It features the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so I reckon you could tick off both Austria and Hungary grin. (It is very readable and not nearly as dry and dull as a book about the decline and fall of the A-H Empire might sound.)

cardamomginger Sun 04-May-14 21:07:30

You could do better than Kundera for the Czech Republic (and I guess Slovakia too, as it was Czechoslovakia at the time). Kundera defected to France in 1975 and was not thought of that well by writers who stayed when he kept harping on about how 'Czech' he was. Far better to read something by Vaclav Havel.

paperclip2 Sun 04-May-14 21:17:27

'Pelle the Conqueror' by Martin Andersen Nexoe (was made into a movie)
'Murder in the Dark' by Dan Turell (Copenhagen noir)

'All Men are Mortal' by Simone de Beauvoir

'The Land of Green Plums' by Herta Muller, very literary but very good

'Crime and Punishment' by Dostoyevsky

if you haven't read Homer, you've got something to look forward to, there is a very good audiobook of the Odyssey read by Ian McKellen

'Decameron' by Boccacio

ancientbuchanan Sun 04-May-14 21:30:30

Bonjour tristesse by Sagan

Christ stopped at Eboli

revolutionarytoad Sun 04-May-14 21:51:16

Is it easy to enjoy Homer though if you don't have a particular interest in the history of it and don't know what's special about the language? I tried a bit ago and couldn't get through a page, like treacle! They don't seem very 'for the everyman' IYSWIM. I wish I could get it!

ancientbuchanan Sun 04-May-14 21:56:49

Zhbniev Herbert Polish poet.

Wonderful children's books, The Good Master, The Singing Tree, Hungary before and then in WWl . Author ended up in the US.

YolandiFuckinVisser Sun 04-May-14 22:00:40

Can't remember the author but i loved We The Drowned - its about generations of sailors from a danish seafaring town. Not a subject i would normally go for in a novel but it was beautiful.

EBearhug Sun 04-May-14 22:07:13

Are there any authors from the little countries like Andorra and San Marino and Lichtenstein?

LaFataTurchina Sun 04-May-14 22:09:32

For Italian classics I'd recommened the divine comedy/the betrothed (i promessi sposi)/or the name of the rose

Or for a modern novel - I'm not scared.

paperclip2 Sun 04-May-14 22:19:50


I wouldn't say it's easy to enjoy Homer as you do need to know just a bit about the history and the gods, but it isn't too difficult to get into. It does take a couple of pages to get the hang of reading the verse.

The first time I read Homer all the way through, I read a prose version. It certainly helps to know the story, roughly, before you try to read one of the verse translations. I also think it depends very much on the translation how much you enjoy the read, some of the translations can be very stuffy. I personally enjoyed reading the Robert Fagles translation and listened to the audiobook read by Ian McKellen this winter and actually enjoyed listening more than reading. It is a great story and told really well.

Rabbitcar Sun 04-May-14 22:23:23

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian - loved it.

sydenhamhiller Sun 04-May-14 22:35:56

Oh what a great post! My English education 16-18 was the international baccalaureate, in the Netherlands, and it was great to have lots of 'international' authors... Have been very boringly English- centric since then, apart from my Scandiwegian crime addiction!

For the Netherlands, I would perhaps leave anne frank's diary, which is amazing ... But not perhaps so much about the Netherlands. We read 2 amazing books at school: Het Bittere Kruid (the Bitter herb - cannot remember the author), and 'the Assault' by Harry Mulisch. Both amazing.

EBearhug Sun 04-May-14 22:52:20

I was given the Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch by a Belgian boyfriend.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sun 04-May-14 22:54:37

Germany: The Bread of Those Early Years - Heinrich Boll. My favourite book ever. I also loved The Call of the Toad by Gunter Grass - as close as a quick read to anything you will get by Grass.

Poland: A Warsaw Diary by Kazimierz Brandys. If you want something more literary, try Joseph Conrad (I struggle with Conrad).

Romania: Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller. What it was like being a German Transylvanian under communism.

France: The Ripening Seed by Colette. Or maybe Cheri.

Croatia: (or Former Yugoslavia) How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed by Slavenka Drakulic.

Belgium: The Sorrow of Belgium by Hugo Claus. Growing up in Flanders at the outbreak of WW2.

SantanaLopez Sun 04-May-14 22:56:38

Oh, what a marvellous thread.

Germany: Berlin Alexanderplatz, All Quiet on the Western Front
Italy: the Leopard (divides opinions, I adore it), the Divine Comedy
France: Dangerous Liaisons
Russia: Doctor Zhivago, Quiet Flows the Don and Anna Karenina

Don Quixote for Spain? I'll admit I've never been able to finish it.

I don't know how to categorise Primo Levi, but he ought to be on the list.

Allalonenow Sun 04-May-14 23:07:06

Eric Dickens is a prize winning translator with a solid body of European work, especially Dutch/Flemish and Estonian, so very well worth a Google.

The Dedalus publishing house specialises in European work, so again, worth a Google.

Allalonenow Sun 04-May-14 23:15:01

I don't agree that Russia Ukraine or Turkey are in Europe. grin

2468Motorway Sun 04-May-14 23:21:54

Levi, surely should represent Italy? I love his writing but I love the Periodic Table most. He brilliantly expresses what it is to be human.

prettymess Mon 05-May-14 00:15:51

Belgium:Zwarte Tranen / Black Tears by Tom Lanoye
Holland: De Avonden / The evenings by Gerard Reve

I could list so many from the Low Lands!

DrankSangriaInThePark Mon 05-May-14 06:18:53

The Devil's General for Germany would get my vote.

A pilot who doesn't want to be a fighter.

Stuart Maconie's books about Britain are bloody fucking lovely.

Pies and Prejudice (about the north) is one of my absolute favourite reads ever ever ever.

Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island is dated now, but still lovely.

Both make me homesick. And proud.

DrankSangriaInThePark Mon 05-May-14 06:19:15

Dara's Tickling the English is good as well.

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Mon 05-May-14 06:51:35

I do think Turkey should be included though as it is partly on the continent of
Europe and partly Asia. I believe Istanbul is the only major city in the world that spans two continents. And Orhan Pamuk is certainly a worthy addition to the list.

What a great idea for a reading project. Most of my favourites have already been listed but for Germany you could go with My Century by Gunter Grass - 100 interlinked stories, one from every year in the twentieth century.

RabbitPies Mon 05-May-14 09:16:39

Ukraine is considered to be entirely in Europe is it not? Russia is in both,yes the majority of land mass is in Asia,but the majority of the population is in Western,or European Russia.

sonjadog Mon 05-May-14 11:58:53

I see that there may be political issues here regarding what is Europe and what isn't. I think I will go for geographical Europe. Any country or bit or country inside Europe, gets a book read.

ThingsThatShine Mon 05-May-14 14:33:53

Allalonenow, of course Russia Ukraine and Turkey are Europe. Russia and Turkey are also in Asia but it doesn't mean they aren't in Europe at all confused

Good idea OP!

brokenshoes Mon 05-May-14 14:45:22

So many wonderful book suggestions here, it would be a shame for the thread to go pffft in a few months' time, with it being in Chat. Just wondering if sonjadog would consider it being moved to Adult Fiction?

sonjadog Mon 05-May-14 14:55:28

Does Adult Fiction get so much traffic as Chat? If so, I can certainly move it, or if not, I could leave it here for a while and then move. I was planning on printing out the thread myself. I didn't really think anyone else would be that interested.

I am compiling the list of which countries I am going to include now. I'm using the UN lists.

sonjadog Mon 05-May-14 16:11:29

Ok, here are the rules I've made and the list of countries:

The rules:

- I have to read 48 books, one from each country on the UN list.

- The book has to be by an author from the country (they can live somewhere else when writing the book), and has to be set in the country.

- The book has to a book I haven't read before.

- Contemporary works are preferable where there is an option.

- The book has to be fiction, a biography or something else that refers to the culture or life in the country. No history books or other non-fictional works allowed.

- I will try to choose books that are recommended by other people.

Here are the countries I have to find books from:

















































KiaOraOAotearoa Mon 05-May-14 16:46:24

I can send you a Herta Muller for Romania if you wish?

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Mon 05-May-14 17:01:24

You could actually write a book yourself about this project if you wanted to. Especially if you read a book a week. And make it 52 countries instead of 48 (count Wales, England, Scotland, and NI separately and you'd be at 51 so would need to find just one more). So it would fall into the "my year of..." genre.

Tournesol Mon 05-May-14 18:22:08

What an inspiring thread! I would love to do this though not sure I have the time at the moment, but one day!

You should totally write a blog on this, it would be really interesting.

brokenshoes Mon 05-May-14 18:38:37

Probably not as much traffic in Adult Fiction, but some knowledgeable people over there. You've certainly captured my imagination and I'll be writing down some suggestions.

Mepmep Mon 05-May-14 18:38:37

Great idea!

Here is one for Estonia.

The Purge, by Sofi Oksanen. An Estonian-Finnish writer. The book takes place in Estonia. It's quite atmospheric, dark, mysterious and a page turner.

brokenshoes Mon 05-May-14 18:38:38

Probably not as much traffic in Adult Fiction, but some knowledgeable people over there. You've certainly captured my imagination and I'll be writing down some suggestions.

Mepmep Mon 05-May-14 18:54:22

Ooh, I have some more exotic ones, thanks to my friends from these countries who lent me books at Uni!


Sarajevo Marboro by Milenko Jergovic. Short stories about the Bosnian war.


Broken April, by Ismail Kadare, about Albanian blood feuds.
Chronicle in Stone, by Ismail Kadare. About growing up in wartime Albania - evocative and hilarious.

Turkey (depends on your interpretation of Europe I suppose!)

Anything by Orhan Pamuk, especially Museum of Innocence.

Mepmep Mon 05-May-14 19:00:39


Embers by Sandor Marai


A heart so white by Javier Marias

ImAThrillseekerBunny Mon 05-May-14 19:11:31

Stanislaw Lem is a brilliant writer for Poland, although the town where he was born is now in the Ukraine.
For whoever suggested Borges for Spain, I'm afraid he's Argentinian.

Re Homer, the Iliad is very unrewarding for the casual reader but the Odyssey is much easier. Seamus Heaney's reworking would get you two for the price of one.

Good luck with Andorra, Lichtenstein and Monaco (maybe a formula 1 driver's autobiography?). One of the great encyclicals for the Vatican.

ImAThrillseekerBunny Mon 05-May-14 19:13:09

And yes, you should move it to Adult Fiction for archive purposes, we don't want it to go poof in 30 days.

sonjadog Mon 05-May-14 19:39:29

Great suggestions! I will compile a list of books and countries tomorrow. I forgot to print out the list when I was at work today, so it'll have to wait.

I have started book 1.

It's from Poland, called "A Treatise on Shelling Beans" by Wieslaw Mysliwski, translated by Bill Johnston (a friend who is a translator says I have to mention the translator too each time). A Polish friend of mine who teaches literature in Krakow recommended it.

I hadn't thought about writing about the books as I read them, but that's a good idea. I will keep a book diary.

KiaOraOAotearoa Mon 05-May-14 20:08:17

Iamathrill, thank you for pointing that, I was the one who said Borges for Spain! Doh! You are, of course, right, he is Argentinian. I read most of his stuff in Spanish and bought most of in in Spain too, hence the confusion. You are right, sorry.

PearlyGrey Mon 05-May-14 20:35:48

Germany - Defying Hitler, Sebastian Haffner, part memoir, part historical critique of the rise of Hitler but written pre-war so it's speculative rather than retrospective which makes it a. bloody heart breaking and b. not seem like a history book.

Holland - An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, war diaries of a young woman in Amsterdam during the 2nd World War, she such a vibrant, modern women, it's a real punch to the gut when you learn her fate

The penguin website may be helpful when looking for authors

EBearhug Mon 05-May-14 21:21:03

According to wikipedia, Juli Minoves Triquell and Josep Carles Laínez are both authors from Andorra. Finding their work in English might be some challenge, though. Also, Laínez is actually Spanish, I think, just lives in Andorra.

sonjadog Mon 05-May-14 21:33:30

I don't know any Spanish, but there is an Andorran writer who has a book published in German that I might have a go at:ächeln-Erde-Ramón-Villeró/dp/3499242923

Allalonenow Mon 05-May-14 23:13:22

From Iceland you might like "The Greenhouse" by A A Olafsdottir, which I enjoyed a lot, also I see it is in the Kindle May promotion for just £1.

DaffyDuck88 Mon 05-May-14 23:15:42

I can heartily recommend the following;
Spain - The Carpenters Pencil by Manuel Rivas. He is amazing.
Germany - Austerlitz by W.G Sebald.
Russia - Summer in Baden-Baden by Leonid Tsypkin

HopeClearwater Tue 06-May-14 00:25:19

What a great idea!

For Denmark/Greenland, how about Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg (can't do the slash through the 'o'). Lots about the relationship between Denmark and Greenland; very interesting.

Sadly, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is set in Peterborough. But amusing for all that smile

sonjadog Tue 06-May-14 07:23:13

I'll ask to get the thread moved to Adult Fiction now.

sassolino Tue 06-May-14 18:19:37

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Russia)
The Heart of a Dog
The White Guard or anything else by Bulgakov

A biography: Pushkin's button by Serena Vitale

Poetry: Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva

as for the Italian literature, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani is most beautiful.

sassolino Tue 06-May-14 18:20:55

And Norway: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Unset, a real masterpiece

Mepmep Tue 06-May-14 18:24:23

I forgot two

Ukraine -

Pengin Lost by Andrey Kurkov. Satire about life in post-Soviet Ukraine and so, so hilarious. The follow up, Death and the Penguin is a lot darker.


In the Hold, by Vladimir Arsenijevic, about life of disaffected youth in Serbia after the war.

MollyGuacaholly Tue 06-May-14 18:36:09

Cees Nooteboom has been mentioned and I second that, he's Dutch.
Harry Mulish is also Dutch and not Belgian.
Dmitri Verhulst is Belgian, and has been translated.

stickybeaksyd Tue 06-May-14 22:30:00

Try Italo Calvino's 'If on a winter's night a traveller' - a bit like Cloud Atlas in structure, unusual and engaging. Calvino was born in Cuba but lived in Italy all his life. For a topical WW1 theme All quiet on the western front by Erich Maria Remarque is very poignant, told from the German point of view of a young man at the front. France: Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan is a short but great easy read.

ImAThrillseekerBunny Tue 06-May-14 23:23:39

My DH, who loves a good literary challenge, points out that although Heinrich Harrer was Austrian, he was living in Liechtenstein when he wrote Seven Years In Tibet.

alialiath Wed 07-May-14 02:41:10

I recommend Where the Devil Can't Go By Anya Lipska ( Polish )

CrystalQueen Wed 07-May-14 14:50:48

I have enjoyed several novels by Jose Saramago - Blindness was mentioned upthread, but The Double is also good (Portugal).

emmelinelucas Wed 07-May-14 15:00:38

Can I recommend books by Fred Vargas - a French author. They are very good.
Etty Hillesum annoyed me.
Suite Francaise is a favourite of mine.It was heartbreaking to know that when her husband was writing letters to find out where she was, she had already been killed.

Allalonenow Thu 08-May-14 00:44:39

For a light and fun read from Italy, any of the Montalbano detective books by Andrea Camilleri would fit the bill. Very different from the Scandinavian detectives, these are filled with food, sea and siestas.

Allalonenow Thu 08-May-14 00:52:12

For a light and fun read from Italy, any of the Montalbano detective books by Andrea Camilleri would fit the bill. Very different from the Scandinavian detectives, these are filled with food, sea and siestas.

I agree that Suite Francaise is compelling and sublime, but Nemirovsky was born in Kiev so I don't think she is really a French author for this project.

bibliomania Sat 10-May-14 14:46:37

I've been thinking about this. I don't intend to do it as I seem to have a never-ending wish-list of books to read as it is, but if I were, this is what I'd do:

1) Do it in a structured way and give yourself exit points where you can stop and still congratulate yourself on your success. I'd define "Europe" based on EEC/EU membership over time (not a political judgement, just for convenience) so I'd probably start with the 12 "old" members:

Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, UK, Greece

Then, if I wanted to go on, I'd do: Austria, Finland, Sweden

Then:Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus

Then: Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia.

2) I think the secret is short books. If I were to attempt Don Quixote for Spain and Finnegan's Wake for Ireland, frankly, I know I'd never do it.

I'd start off with:

Italy: If on a Winter's Night by Calvino
Germany: Perfume by Susskind
France: The Library of Unrequited Love by Divry
Belgium: one of the Maigret books by Simenon
UK: a shortish classic I hadn't read (if you hadn't read Persuasion or Northanger Abbey by Austen, now's the time...)
Ireland: My Oedipus Complex and other Stories, O'Connor.

Read those six books - you mightn't like all of them, but they're all worth a go, and are quick reads with a strong "flavour" - and you can boast about being half-way through the first challenge.

puzzlepiecebehindthecouch Sun 25-May-14 10:27:28

Perhaps something by Selma Lagerlof for Sweden? Am just about to embark on my first of hers, albeit in Easy Reader version as I am only just learning Swedish!

sonjadog Thu 24-Jul-14 18:21:11

So far I have read a book from Poland and from Hungary. I'm heading to Belgium on holiday and am going to download a Belgian book this evening. Any last suggestions before I go for one of the ones mentioned above? Preferably not something involving WW2.

For Poland I've read A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wieslaw Mysliwski, and for Hungary I've read Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer.

Reasontobelieve Sun 27-Jul-14 17:41:27

Italy - try History by Elsa Morante (though is set during the war). I read this a long time ago and noticed the other week that it had been republished.

Israel anything by Amo Oz or David Grossman. The Zig Zag Kid by the latter is particularly good.

Ireland no more than Human by Maura Laverty. This tells the story of an Irish nanny working in 30s Spain.

BestIsWest Sun 27-Jul-14 17:52:13

Georges Simenon was Belgian, though most of the Maigret books were set in Paris.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now