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World Cup of Books: June 22nd

This summer, the Loyola Libraries are excited to bring you the World Cup of Books, an interactive program to encouraging reading books from other countries. Show your support for your favorite team by reading books from and about their country!

Today’s match-ups include Nigeria v Iceland, Brazil v Costa Rica and Serbia v Switzerland.

NIGERIA: The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma

The Fisherman by Chigozie ObiomaSeamlessly interweaving the everyday and the elemental, Obioma’s strange, imaginative debut—the translation rights to which have been sold in 12 countries—probes the nature of belief and the power of family bonds. Set in 1990s Nigeria, it is narrated by Benjamin Agwu, who is nine when his father departs for a distant banking job, leaving his wife and six children behind in the village of Akure. Despite stern admonitions, the four oldest brothers soon test their mother’s discipline. Their worst transgression is to fish in the Omi-Ala, a once-pure river that has become dirty and dangerous. There they encounter a mentally ill man named Abulu, who is locally believed to have powers of prophecy. Inexplicably, Abulu knows the eldest Agwu brother, Ikenna, by name. In a trance, he foretells the teenager’s death in detail, adding that it will be at “the hands of a fisherman.” Convinced that one of his brothers will kill him, Ikenna is enraged and destructive, isolating himself and throwing his home into chaos; ultimately, not just Ikenna but the whole family will be transformed by the power of Abulu’s words. Obioma excels at juxtaposing sharp observation, rich images of the natural world, and motifs from biblical and tribal lore; his novel succeeds as a convincing modern narrative and as a majestic reimagining of timeless folklore. -Publisher Weekly

Find it here at grab it at the Lewis Library Display!

ICELAND: The Greenhouse by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian Fitzgibbon

The Greenhouse by Audur Ava OlafsdottirFollowing the death of his mother, whose beloved greenhouse was home to rare roses, 22-year-old Lobbi leaves his elderly father and autistic twin brother behind in his native Iceland to take a job restoring a medieval rose garden at a European monastery. He is also leaving behind Flora Sol, his infant daughter, the result of a meaningless one-night-stand with Anna, a young woman determined to pursue her university degree in spite of her single motherhood. Arriving at the monastery after a tempestuous journey that involves unexpected surgery and an otherworldly drive through mystical forests, Lobbi adjusts to his new life, where he engages in self-contemplation with the help of a monk who is most comfortable giving advice through the viewing of movies. When Anna and Flora Sol suddenly appear, Lobbi is finally able to appreciate what it means to be a father and son, friend and tender of souls, both human and floral. Buoyed by FitzGibbon’s luminous translation, Olafsdottir’s internationally award-winning tale is a melancholy yet moving portrait of a young man struggling to make sense of unconventional relationships and responsibilities. -Booklist  Request it here at grab it at the IC Display!

BRAZIL: Chandelier by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser

The Chandelier by Clarice LispectorNever before translated into English, Lispector’s mysterious second novel tells the story of two siblings and the secrets that bind them together. As children, sensitive Daniel and precocious Virginia live at the parochial Quiet Farm in the principality of Upper Marsh; Daniel keeps a collection of spiders, and Virginia spends her time making clay figurines. They witness a drowning and form the Society of Shadows to explore the forest around their home and spy on their sister Esmeralda. As a young adult, Virginia leaves the farm and attempts to fit in with a ravishing crew of aesthetes led by the vain Vicente, who becomes her lover—but her thoughts are always turning back to Daniel, whose engagement breaks Virginia’s heart, leading her to question her identity; she wonders if she isn’t like the family’s chandelier, above everything and swinging first one way, then the other. Told mainly through Virginia’s associative, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, which are occasionally interrupted by dialogue and plot developments, the novel clearly precedes Lispector’s artistic breakthrough with books like 1964’s The Passion According to G.H. This is a haunting family fable, and will fascinate those seeking a glimpse at Lispector’s genius in development. -Publisher Weekly  Find it here or at the Lewis Library Display!

COSTA RICA: Assault on Paradise by Tatiana Lobo

Assault on Paradise by Tatiana LoboWorks of historical fiction often provide unique insights into the milieu and ethos of a particular time and place, insights generally not pursued in rigorously historical accounts. Such is the case in this novel, which portrays some of the most unsavory aspects of early-18th-century Central American society. Lobo’s narrative follows Pedro Albaran, a fugitive from the Inquisition, as he encounters political intrigue, corruption, economic crises, and New World tropical diseases. Lobo develops stories of love, adultery, and madness in the lives of individual characters as the novel’s overriding theme–the exploitation of the indigenous population–gradually unfolds. The shifting points of view and flashes of magical realism clearly place the novel in the mainstream of contemporary Spanish American fiction. Assault on Paradise serves as an excellent complementary text to Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s’s fine novel of the 16th-century Spanish Main, Sea of Lentils (CH, Mar’91). Though an introductory essay would have been useful for those unfamiliar with the work’s historical and literary contexts, Zatz’s fluid, thoughtful translation should win Lobo a host of new readers. -Choice  Find it here!

SERBIA:  In Search of the Grail: The Cylist Conspiracy, Party Two by Svetislav Basara, translated by Randall A. Major

In Search of the Grail, Part Two by Svetislav BasaraIn Search of the Grail continues Svetislav Basara’s “Cyclist Conspiracy,” a fantastical exploration of civilizational decline told through an array of strange and esoteric documents. Readers are introduced to a secret history of the twentieth century, shown that behind the well-known wars and political revolutions of the period numerous secret organizations vied for supremacy through the control of books, knowledge, and dreams. With appearances by Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali, the Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx, and Josef Stalin, among many others, Basara’s novel presents a singularly playful, imaginative portrait of modernity and of the human condition. -Amazon

Request it here or at the IC Display!


SWITZERLAND: Second Seedtime: Notebooks, 1980-1994 by Philippe Jaccottet, translated by Tess Lewis 

Second Seedtime - Notebooks by Philippe JaccottietOne of Europe’s finest contemporary poets, Jaccottet is a writer of exacting attention. Through keen observations of the natural world, of art, literature, music, and reflections on the human condition, Jaccottet opens his readers’ eyes to the transcendent in everyday life. The Second Seedtime is a collection of “things seen, things read, and things dreamed.” The volume continues the project Jaccottet began three decades earlier in his first volume of notebooks, Seedtime. Here, again, he gathers flashes of beauty dispersed around him like seeds that may blossom into poems or moments of inspiration. He returns, insistently, to such literary touchstones as Dante, Montaigne, Góngora, Goethe, Kierkegaard, Hölderlin, Michaux, Hopkins, Brontë, and Dickinson, as well as musical greats including Bach, Monteverdi, Purcell, and Schubert. The Second Seedtime is the vivid chronicle of one man’s passionate engagement with the life of the mind, the spirit, and the natural world.

Find it here or grab it at the Lewis Library Display!

Have you read either of these books, or a book from another country participating in the 2018 World Cup? Add a review of a book from a participating nation to our bracket here! You can also fill out our quick form here, and we’ll add your review to the bracket board. Your review may appear in a future blog post!

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