Sunday, 31 December 2017

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks 2017: The Summary
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In the past twelve months I’ve participated once more in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge that Robin of My Two Blessings hosts every year on an extra blog. This time I didn’t follow any specific plan choosing my reads except that some of the books had to be eligible for the rather too big number of other reading challenges for which I signed up (»»» see the January post listing all my 2017 Reading Challenges & Specials and linking to the respective lists). One of the challenges is a perpetual one that still continues, two started already in 2016 and therefore ended the last days of January and August respectively, and the remaining five finish today, on 31 December 2017, although I completed my reviews for most of them weeks ago and I already posted the summaries.

On Twelfth Night 2017 I started out on a long literary journey with the Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap that ended in Boredom by Alberto Moravia just two days before New Year 2018. As a matter of fact, this year’s turned out to be an unusually “wet” and artistic tour of the world.

I travelled on The River with No Bridge by Sué Sumii, assisted A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood, stayed at A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul, floated down The River Ki by Ariyoshi Sawako, and found the Woman on the Other Shore by Kakuta Mitsuyo. And as if this weren’t already enough water, there were also Água Viva by Clarice Lispector and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. I read several novels surrounding important places and buildings, most obviously Vienna by Eva Menasse, Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, The Walnut Mansion by Miljenko Jergović, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Along the way I met a couple of painters. There were famous ones among them: Gustav Klimt in The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey, the Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard, Artemisia by Anna Banti, Frieda Kahlo in A Love Letter from a Stray Moon by Jay Griffiths, Francisco de Goya in This is the Hour by Lion Feuchtwanger and Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life by Irving Stone. And some fictitious painters crossed my way. One did The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte and An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro could have known The Dragon Painter by Mary McNeil Fenollosa. My final read of this year intimately acquainted me with a painter who suffered from terrible Boredom by Alberto Moravia.

Two high-ranking travel companions were The Green Pope by Miguel Ángel Asturias and The Pope's Daughter by Dario Fo. And then there is the feline narrator of I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki. The animals in the titles of The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind and The Giraffe's Neck by Judith Schalansky only serve as starting points for stories surrounding a bank security guard and a biology teacher respectively. The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary, on the other hand, is one of the first novels dealing with environmental and wild life protection criticising large-scale elephant hunt in Africa.

Seven of my reads were from the pen of recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature or actually only six because I reviewed An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro in July, i.e. three months before the author was announced the laureate of 2017. The other six were: The Green Pope by Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), Billiards at Half Past Nine by Heinrich Böll (1972), Darkness Visible by William Golding (1983), The Trolley by Claude Simon (1985), The Pope's Daughter by Dario Fo (1997), and A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul (2001).

Mere coincidence has it that during the past 52 weeks I also reviewed seven epistolary novels here on Edith’s Miscellany, namely So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ, Black Box by Amos Oz, Letters to Felician by Ingeborg Bachmann, A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood, A Love Letter from a Stray Moon by Jay Griffiths, Kinshu. Autumn Brocade by Miyamoto Teru, and The Heart by Else Lasker-Schüler.

Only one book is eligible for my personal reading special about The Great War in Literature (»»» see The Great War post with the book list), namely To Arms! by Marcelle Tinayre.

And which were my favourite reads this year? Billiards at Half Past Nine by Heinrich Böll, The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary, and A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul… in alphabetical order by the authors’ family names.

And here’s the summary list of 52 Books – 52 Writers n alphabetical order by authors’ family names including dates of release and original titles if they aren’t English: 
  1. Ilse Aichinger: The Greater Hope (1948; previously translated into English as Herod's Children), original German title: Die größere Hoffnung
  2. Ariyoshi Sawako: The River Ki (1959), original Japanese title: 紀ノ川
  3. Miguel Ángel Asturias: The Green Pope (1954), original Spanish title: El papa verde
  4. Paul Auster: 4 3 2 1 (2017)
  5. Mariama : So Long a Letter (1980), original French title: Une si longue lettre
  6. Ingeborg Bachmann: Letters to Felician (1946/1991), original German title: Briefe an Felician
  7. Bánffy Miklós: They Were Counted (1934), original Hungarian title: Megszámláltattál
  8. Anna Banti: Artemisia (1947), original Italian title: Artemisia
  9. Thomas Bernhard: Old Masters (1985), original German title: Alte Meister
  10. Heinrich Böll: Billiards at Half Past Nine (1959), original German title: Billiard um halb zehn
  11. Agatha Christie Mallowan: Star Over Bethlehem (1965)
  12. Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1925), original German title: Berlin Alexanderplatz
  13. Laura Esquivel: Like Water for Chocolate (1989), original Spanish title: Como agua para chocolate
  14. Mary McNeil Fenollosa: The Dragon Painter (1906)
  15. Lion Feuchtwanger: This is the Hour (1951), original German title: Goya oder Der arge Weg der Erkenntnis
  16. Katie Flynn: No Silver Spoon (1999)
  17. Dario Fo: The Pope's Daughter (2014), original Italian title: La figlia del papa 
  18. Romain Gary: The Roots of Heaven (1956), original French title: Les racines du ciel
  19. William Golding: Darkness Visible (1979)
  20. Maxim Gorky: The Artamonov Business (1925), original Russian title: Дело Артамоновых
  21. Jay Griffiths: A Love Letter from a Stray Moon (2011) 
  22. Paula Grogger: The Door in the Grimming (1926), original German title: Das Grimmingtor
  23. Sabine Gruber: Roman Elegy (2011), original German title Stillbach oder Die Sehnsucht
  24. Maja Haderlap: Angel of Oblvion (2011), original German title: Engel des Vergessens
  25. Elisabeth Hickey: The Painted Kiss (2005)
  26. Christopher Isherwood: A Meeting by the River (1967) 
  27. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Artist of the Floating World (1986) 
  28. Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
  29. Miljenko Jergović: The Walnut Mansion (2003), original Croatian title: Dvori od oraha
  30. Kakuta Mitsuyo: Woman on the Other Shore (2004), original Japanese title: 対岸の彼女
  31. Else Lasker-Schüler: My Heart (1912), original German title: Mein Herz
  32. Clarice Lispector: Água Viva (1973; also translated into English as The Stream of Life), original Brazilian Portuguese title: Água viva
  33. Lu Xun: The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China (1923-1935), original Chinese titles of the combined collections: 吶喊 (1923), 彷徨 (1925) and 故事新編 (1935)
  34. Ana María Matute: Celebration in the Northwest (1952), original Spanish title: Fiesta al noroeste
  35. Margaret Mazzantini: Twice Born (2008), original Italian title: Venuto al mondo
  36. Eva Menasse: Vienna (2005), original German title: Vienna
  37. Miyamoto Teru: Kinshu. Autumn Brocade (1982), original Japanese title: 錦繍
  38. Alberto Moravia: Boredom (1960), original Italian title: La noia
  39. V. S. Naipaul: A Bend in the River (1979)
  40. Natsume Sōseki: I Am a Cat (1905), original Japanese title: 吾輩は猫である
  41. Amos Oz: Black Box (1986), original Hebrew title: קופסה שחורה
  42. Arturo Pérez-Reverte: The Flanders Panel (1990), original Spanish title: La tabla de Flandes
  43. Julya Rabinowich: Splithead (2008), original German title: Spaltkopf
  44. Judith Schalansky: The Giraffe's Neck (2011), original German title: Der Hals der Giraffe
  45. Clemens J. Setz: Indigo (2012), original German title: Indigo
  46. Claude Simon: The Trolley (2001), original French title: Le tramway
  47. Irving Stone: Lust for Life (1934)
  48. Patrick Süskind: The Pigeon (1987), original German title: Die Taube
  49. Sumii Sué: The River with No Bridge (Volume I: 1961), original Japanese title: 橋のない川
  50. Marcelle Tinayre: To Arms! (1915; also translated into English as Sacrifice), original French title: La Veillée des armes. Le départ; Août 1914 
  51. Miguel Torga: Grape Harvest (1945), original Portuguese title: Vindima
  52. Regina Ullmann: Country Road (1921), original German title: Die Landstraße


  1. Wow, what an awesome reading year! Love the unexpected water theme. I'm quite inspired by all your reads and sorry I didn't have more time to comment, rather than lurking throughout the year. Cheers to a wonderful new reading year!

    1. Thanks for commenting on my list! I always try to choose books that aren't too widely known or such that have been a bit forgotten already.

      It's a pity that I'm out of your challenge now because I just don't have the time to read and review a book a week any longer...

  2. You are an intrepid reader Edith! Your report is as well written as a novel, at least an epistolary one.

    1. Thank you for the compliment! Well, I'd say that for a novel my summary is a bit short, don't you think? ;-)


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