World Cup of Books: July 1

This summer, the Loyola Libraries are excited to bring you the World Cup of Books, an interactive program to encourage reading books from other countries. Show your support for your favorite team by reading books from and about their country!
Today’s round of 16 match-ups include Spain v Russia and Croatia v Denmark

Valley of the Fallen by Carlos Rojas, translated by Edith Grossman

Spanish novelist and art historian Rojas delivers a politically charged, time-shifting portrait of the painter Francisco Goya in a time of repression. Goya painted his subjects as he saw them, to sometimes precarious result, as when he turned in a portrait of the royal family that “lay bare in their features the stupidity, ambition, and duplicitous cunning that dwell within them.” For all that Goya was nearly indigent, deaf, and suffering from “the syphilis that perhaps he hadn’t known until then he had contracted in his early youth,” he was also exquisitely attuned to questions of political survival—a useful skill given that his bête noire if also odd confidant, the king, proudly describes himself as “your Saturn, devouring my people.” Leapfrogging decades, the scene shifts to another Saturn, the dying Francisco Franco, and the time of an art historian and intellectual, Sandro Vasari, “a descendant of Giorgio Vasari and three generations of émigrés terroni.” He is discontented, a hard drinker in a turbulent relationship, but finds meaning in the work of Goya, whose biography he is struggling to write and who was there at the dawn of “the liberal tradition that filled almost a century and a half of history, in spite of so many armed interruptions and its own errors, falsehoods, political bosses, and limitations of every kind”—and that Franco, his heart steadily failing, tried to end for so long. A complex but rewarding meditation on the monstrous dreams of reason. –Kirkus Review

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Found Life: Poems, Stories, Comics, a Play, & an Interview by Linor Goralik, edited by Ainsley Morse, Maria Vassileva, & Maya Vinokou

One of the first Russian writers to make a name for herself on the Internet, Linor Goralik writes conversational short works that conjure the absurd in all its forms, reflecting post-Soviet life and daily universals. Her mastery of the minimal, including a wide range of experiments in different forms of micro-prose, is on full display in this collection of poems, stories, comics, a play, and an interview, here translated for the first time. In Found Life, speech, condensed to the extreme, captures a vivid picture of fleeting interactions in a quickly moving world.Goralik is a keen observer of the female condition, recounting gendered tribulations with awareness and amusement. From spiritual rabbits and biblical zoos to poems about loss and comics about poetry, Goralik’s colorful language and pervasive dark comedy capture the heights of ridiculousness and the depths of grief. -Amazon

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The Return of Philip Latinowicz by Miroslav Krleza, translated by Zora Depolo

Philip Latinowicz is a successful but disillusioned painter who returns to his hometown after an absence of twenty-three years. He hopes that revisiting his roots will inspire him to create the perfect work of art and thereby restore his faith in both art and life. Haunted by his troubled childhood, however, he falls in with shady characters and discovers the emotional, intellectual, and imaginative poverty of his own background. –Northwestern Press

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If I were a suicide bomber: & other verses by Per Aage Brandt, translated by Thom Satterlee

The compactness of these poems gives them an epigrammatic quality, but reading a number of them in succession puts one more in mind of Montaigne than of Martial. That is, the poems read like very tight verse essays, or assays. They try out and try on various ideas and perspectives. Often they express a strong but frustrated desire for transcendent meaning, as when, early in the volume, Brandt writes, “the morning light seems to want to speak” or, later and a bit more idiosyncratically, “the cat jumps up onto my computer / and vomits, that has to mean something[.]” Toward the end of the volume, he describes rain that sounds “as if the sea-dark truth was music’s / deeper meaning, which we still don’t believe[.]” Elsewhere in the book, Brandt turns this quest for a meaning always denied into a dialogue with the great Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. –World Literature Today

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Have you read any 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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