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Read a book from each country in Europe.

(160 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.

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.

drspouse Tue 29-Jul-14 01:26:32

The Expats is set in Luxembourg and gives a flavour of life there as an expat (though it's a spy novel).
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a great children's book set in Nazi Germany, France and England.

mignonette Tue 29-Jul-14 13:36:09

The poetry and writing of Lorca (Spain)

Cheating a bit but Frances Mayes 'A Year in Europe' is lit, architecture and cultural anecdote heavy AND she's a major Lorca fan but sadly is American.

AUSTRIA- (Spaltkopf) by the Russian-born Austrian writer Julya Rabinowich, published in English as Splithead by Portobello Books, London (2011). My Austrian friend recommends this.

AUSTRIA- Felix Salten wrote Bambi and his other major novel is called 'Josephine Mutzenbacher', the Viennese version of 'Fanny Hill' memoirs. It was published anonymously and was immediately banned by the authorities as being pornographic. The last 20 years have seen the novel rise to the status of a bestseller. So from Bambi to erotica in one Austrian writer!

mignonette Tue 29-Jul-14 13:40:21

And from Finland- Tove Janssons's 'Summer Book'.

From Monaco- 'Grace Kelly: Princesse du Cinema' written and edited by Richard and Danae Projetti (Stanislas Choko, 2007). There is a dearth of Monegasque literature sadly.

sonjadog Sun 03-Aug-14 16:58:43

I read the Dimitri Verhulst book mentioned above for Belgium. It was okay and fairly quick to read. I enjoyed getting to know an author who is little known outside Belgium a little bit.

I am thinking of reading Cees Nooteboom for Netherlands. Can anyone recommend a specific book?

gastrognome Wed 06-Aug-14 19:20:04

I know Belgium has been done, but it's worth mentioning Amelie Nothomb who is a fabulously original Belgian author. The Stranger Next Door is a good one of hers.

For Portugal, something by Jose Saramago?

antimatter Sat 09-Aug-14 23:15:06

Oh so I am too late to recommend you a book from Poland
It would have been:
Isaac Bashevis Singer - The Magician of Lublin

For Russia please consider - The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
IMHO one of the best book I ever read.

I also want to recommend this blog I came across:

I ordered few books from her reading list.

antimatter Sat 09-Aug-14 23:18:49

for Belgium readers for that blog recommend the fllowing books:

Hergé The Adventures of Tintin
Peter Terrin The Guard
Stefan Brijs The Angel Maker
Francois Emmanuel Invitation to a Voyage
Dimitri Verhulst The Misfortunates
Louis Paul Boon My Little War
Paul Paul Verhaeghen Omega Minor
Amélie Nothomb

samthewolf Sat 09-Aug-14 23:28:32


samthewolf Sat 09-Aug-14 23:33:50

Also agree with the master and the margarita

And another Gibraltar

Valsoldknickers Sat 09-Aug-14 23:52:37

For an Irish book I would like to throw Joseph O'Connor's 'Star of the Sea' into the mix.

It is a fascinating read and is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish reading it.

antimatter Sun 10-Aug-14 00:03:32

I second Joseph O'Connor's 'Star of the Sea'
loved it too

expectantmum79 Sun 10-Aug-14 00:11:08

For a German one I'd recommend Patrick Suskind's novel 'Perfume'

NerfHerder Sun 10-Aug-14 00:14:41

I can recommend for Finland- The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen. It's sort of magical realism, gripped me from the start.

expectantmum79 Sun 10-Aug-14 00:21:12

Oops, already said by bibliomania but definitely worth considering.

SayuriSan Sun 10-Aug-14 00:40:52

Ooooh this thread is amazing!!i love all the suggestions.
Am travelling to Edinburgh & Bulgaria this summer, any suggestions of what to read please?xx

SecretSpi Mon 11-Aug-14 16:29:59

What an inspired thread! Lots of my favourite books have already been mentioned but here are some more:

Hungary (and France) "The Invisible Bridge" by Julie Orringer
Estonia "Forest Brothers" by Geraint Roberts
Czech "The Glass House" by Simon Mawer
and my favourite German novel at the moment
"Mephisto" by Klaus Mann

all set pre/during WW2

SecretSpi Mon 11-Aug-14 16:38:40

... sorry, you wanted authors from those countries - I've just realised those I've suggested aren't all from the countries in question.

FrauEnglischLehrerin Mon 11-Aug-14 16:58:56

Isn't Süskind's Perfume set in France (or am I totally misremembering)?

If you read German, then iirc Die Dunkle Seite des Mondes by Martin Suter is by a Swiss author and set in Switzerland (there may of course be an English translation). All about hallucinating on mushrooms, very interesting and weird read, if perhaps not quite the classic Heidi is!

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