This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski IN SHORT: This is a harrowing, fictionalized account of life as a prisoner at Auschwitz. THE BEST BIT: It is hard to use the word “best bit” to describe any passage in this book, because “best” implies an enjoyment that is difficult to come by here.
I am trying to read a book from every country in the world. The last book I read was Italy: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. IN SHORT: This is the true, anonymously published story of one woman’s experiences in Berlin following the Nazi surrender, and the arrival of the Red Army. It is harrowing.
This is my review of My Brilliant Friend, the Italian book by Elena Ferrante. I am trying to read a book from every country in the world. The last book I read was Nigeria: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. IN SHORT: This is the story of two best friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in 1950s Naples. It is the first of four books — or as Ferrante (a pseudonym has said), the first of four volumes in a single book.
BOOK: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie IN SHORT: Americanah is the story of Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who immigrates to the U.S. and becomes a keen critic of our society; in parallel, we follow her true love, Obinze, as he tries to make his own way West. THE FAVORITE BIT: My favorite bit of Americanah comes exceptionally early: with Ifemelu’s email to Obinze. It actually involves two emails that Ifemelu sends her now-married ex-boyfriend from America, following her long absence from both their shared native country (Nigeria) and their shared life together. The earlier one is referenced: “A gracious email. He hated it. He hated it so much that he Googled the black American (Ifemelu’s boyfriend)—and why should she give him the man’s full name if not because she wanted him Googled?”
A photo posted by Faraway Places in Books (@farawayplacesbooks) on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:18pm PDT Hi. I’m reading a book from every country in the world. I began with Germany. The most recent review: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan). Below, a list of all the countries. Want an update every time I finish one? I swear, it’s worth it.
Baltic Countdown, from Latvia My entire “Around the World in Books” adventure (and it really is that!) begin, quite accidentally with A Woman in Berlin, a German journalist’s memoir of the days that followed the Russian occupation of Berlin at the end of World War II. I’d just read City of Women, a full-on cinematic treatment of Berlin during the war from the perspective of an especially plucky hausfrau, and I’d wanted to find a real-life version. A Woman in Berlin was all that and more—I really don’t use a modifier more reverentially than “clear-eyed,” and A Woman in Berlin was one of the most clear-eyed books I’ve ever read.
Purge by Sofi Aksanen: Purge was actually my first “around the world” book, and it did exactly what it was supposed to: tell me about a place I’ve never been and help me experience, in a small way, things I’ve never heard about. I’ve been dying to go to the Baltics for ages, but mostly because it seemed like they would have less expensive saunas than Finland. (No small thing, but still.) I didn’t know, until reading this book, about ftheir long and awful occupation by the Soviets, and I didn’t know about the lingering resentments about the native collaborators—in this case, the book’s main character, Aliide.