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World Cup of Books: June 23rd

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 Germany v Sweden, Korea Rep v Mexico and Belgium v Tunisia.

GERMANY: To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann, translated by Shaun Whiteside

To Die in Spring by Ralf RothmannPressed into military service in the final days of WWII, a young German farmhand finds himself in a nightmare world of cruelty and desperation. Assigned to supply duty in occupied Hungary, Walter is spared combat but subjected to other horrors: gangrenous hospitals, treacherous journeys through the forest, and Russian planes strafing overhead. Senior officers are harsh and capricious, drinking themselves numb. Everyone suspects everyone else of being a deserter, especially those in uniform heading away from the front. It will all be over soon, people keep saying. But not soon enough to spare Walter’s father, sent to a “prison regiment” for giving ruined cigarettes to a POW, or Walter’s irreverent best friend, Fiete, caught deserting and facing an ambivalent firing squad. Rothmann’s (Young Light, 2010) prose lingers plaintively on images of suffering animals and devastated buildings but avoids sentimentality about all that is damaged. And in portraying Walter with compassion, both as a vulnerable teenager and, later, as an old man who suffers in silence, Rothmann bravely insists that readers consider questions of culpability, of how ordinary Germans could be both perpetrators and victims. The result is a quietly unsettling triumph for Rothmann, who is well-known for his novels of working-class life. -Booklist *Starred Review*  Request it here or grab it at the IC Display!

SWEDEN: Hackers by Aase Berg, translated by Johannes Goransson 

Hackers by Aase BergTranslated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson. “This is a threat.” That’s how HACKERS, Swedish writer Aase Berg’s seventh book of poetry, begins. HACKERS is a furious, feminist book about wanting to “hack” the patriarchal system—both in the physically violent sense and in the sense of computer hacking. But Berg also reveals the ‘hag’ behind the ‘hack,’ channeling the non-compliant rage of Glenn-Close-as-bunny-boiler from Fatal Attraction. The world Berg “hags” back at is a world of sexist, capitalist, environmental, globalized violence. The fury of the hacker/hag/captive/revenger is constantly boiling up on the edges of Berg’s compounds and highways, threatening to infiltrate the center. In these spectacular battle scenes and hacked pastorals, where nature is besieged by the highways of progress and the animals don’t give a damn about the humans, the hag rises. -Amazon  Request it here or grab it at the IC Display!

KOREA REPUBLIC: Nobody Checks the Time When They’re Happy by Eun Heekyung, translated by Amber Kim 

Nobody Checks the Time When They're Happy by Eun HeekyungNo One Checks the Time When They’re Happy is a collection of stories, by turns sad and funny, about the thwarted expectations of the young as they grow older. Eun Heeyung’s characters are misfits who, by virtue of their bodies or their lack of social status, are left to dream of momentous changes that will never come. Unsatisfied with work, with family, and with friends, they lose themselves in diets, books, and blogs. Her work humorously but humanely depicts the loneliness and monotony found in many modern lives.

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


MEXICO: Asunder by Chloe Aridjis

Asunde by Chloe AridjisAridjis’ captivating, cerebral novel is set in a modern-day London that, when envisioned via her sophisticated prose, calls to mind more contemplative times of a century ago. Marie is a guard in the quiet, churchlike rooms of the National Gallery, where for nearly 10 years she has observed with equal fascination the body language of visitors and the slow decay of masterpieces. Quiet and unattached, Marie likes the invisibility that her job allows her. In 1914, her great-grandfather was a guard when suffragette Mary Richardson took a cleaver to a revered painting of Venus in repose. Although there are hints of suspense in the connection to that time, just as there are promises of romantic entanglements, Aridjis is most interested in ideas. What is it like to stand silently amid such beauty for a decade? Indeed, Marie’s satisfaction gives way to restlessness on a strange Paris holiday. The novel stumbles a bit when overdone symbolism gets in the way of our own observation of Marie, but Aridjis’ layered, painterly prose evokes this world to perfection. -Booklist *Starred Review*  Find it here!  

BELGIUM: The Carousel of Desire by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor

The Carousel of Desire by Eric-EmmanuelLove and desire are in the air surrounding the Place d’Arezzo, a tony Belgium neighborhood that serves as the idyllic setting for Schmitt’s (The Most Beautiful Book in the World, 2009) first full-length novel to appear in English. The prolific French Belgian dramatist, fiction writer, and film director inventively interweaves the love lives of its inhabitants into a kaleidoscopic and cinematic tale. The characters’ predilections offer a tableau for exploring personality types and sexual preferences, especially once the affairs of the diverse couples are altered when each man and woman receives an enigmatic love letter. The identity of the author of these unnerving missives is a mystery that unfolds over the course of this evocative and beautiful ode to love, heartbreak, and humanity. Through a quirk of fate, exotic birds live in abundance in the trees around the plaza, adding to the cacophony of Schmitt’s delightfully romantic and poignant book. -Booklist  Find it here!

TUNISIA: Influence Peddlers by Hedi Kaddour, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan

The Influence Peddlers by Hedi KaddourGather together French colonialists, young nationalists eager for independence, and local Maghreb leaders in a small North African city of the 1920s. Bring a collection of brash American filmmakers and celebrities into the picture. Dangerous cultural collisions are the inevitable result in Hédi Kaddour’s best-selling novel of French colonial rule and its persisting legacy of human chaos and cultural tragedy.

In this commanding novel, the author plumbs the contradictions of colonialism and the impact on individual lives. With insight, humor, and a profound sense of irony he introduces Les Prépondérants—“The Preponderants,” an unofficial group of peddlers of influence who operate at every level of colonial society. American “Hollywood” values, Islamic and secular politics, French manners—none of them escapes Kaddour’s skewering wit. Filled with rich irony and wonderful characters, this is a novel that grapples forcefully with colonial relations in the Arabic, North African, and French worlds, while also journeying into the simmering Europe and United States of the Roaring Twenties. -Amazon  Find it here or grab it at the Lewis Library Display! 

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