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World Literature

Saturday, December 31, 2005

1:41PM - Julia Alvarez – Before we were free (05-066)

Julia Alvarez – Before we were free (05-066)

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Alvarez is a Dominican American, or American Dominican, depends how you look at it. I have read most of her novels, as all of them are somehow related to the Dominican Republic, a country I have spent a year (an important one) of my life. Especially the book about the Mirabal sisters (In the time of Butterflies) is a great story, based on the real tragic story of three sisters who die as heroes trying to get rid of dictator Trujillo.

This book is about the same era in time, about the same events, though from a different point of view. Anita, the main character, is an innocent 11- year old girl, who thinks the world is great. After her 12th birthday she does find out, the world isn’t. Her cousins flee to the USA with her uncle and aunt. Another uncle hasn’t been seen for weeks, apparently he is hiding somewhere and even her own father seems to be part of the resistance. The lovely country she lives in, is ruled by a merciless dictator who sleeps with little girls and ‘disappears’ his opponents.

The book is written for Young Adults, though imho it can be read by anyone who is interested in history. It demonstrates really well that children are often the forgotten victims in a war or conflict. They lose members of family, but possibly as bad, they lose their innocence, their childhood.

Alvarez has written another great book about a subject she does know a lot about. Her own father and other relatives were involved in the assassination of Trujillo. In the notes in the back of the book we find an interview with her, she explains the word ‘Ajusticiamento’ to non Spanish speakers. It means something like ‘bringing to justice’, a better word than murder, though effectively the result is similar.

Alvarez remains one of my favourite authors.

Number: 05-066
Title: Before we were free
Author: Julia Alvarez
Language: English
Year: 2002
# Pages: 183 (12541)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 0-440-23784-X

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Hi I'm new to this community. Anyone know any good authors, that have been translated into English, from Azerbaijan, Andorra or Armenia? Thanks!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9:43PM - Mario Vargas Llosa – De stad en de honden (05-038)

Mario Vargas Llosa – De stad en de honden (05-038)

His most translated book apparently, I can imagine why. Very interesting story, for someone who seems as pacifistic as Vargas Llosa, he is able to tell the story of a military school as if he has been to one himself.

A new group of recruits starts their school and become a tight group. Several of them stick together, in their battle against other cohorts. Two of them stand out. The Slave and the Poet have different roles. One day the Slave, not nicknamed like that for nothing, dies during an exercise. Everybody is convinced it was an accident, though his only friend, the Poet, disagrees. He tries to find out the truth.

The story gets told from the first-person perspective, though it is not always clear who that person is. This makes reading complicated, yet very interesting. The change of perspective is accompanied by a change in time and a change of place. All these changes keep the book interesting until the very last chapter, before that some gaps still need to be filled.

One of his masterpieces, Vargas Llosa certainly deserves more attention if it comes to naming Latin American authors.

Number: 05-038
Title: De stad en de honden (Orig.: La ciudad y los perros)
Author: Mario Vargas Llosa
Language: Dutch (Orig.: Peruvian Spanish)
Year: 1962
# Pages: 358 (7877)
Category: Literature
ISBN: 90-290-0654-4

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

11:36PM - Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Doce cuentos peregrinos (03-047)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Doce cuentos peregrinos (03-047)

As in Rome do as the Romans. So when I went to Spain this June, I took this book that had been waiting on my shelf for half a decade. 12 stories by the master of short stories. And my Spanish is just about good enough to read a short story by him. Unfortunately I didn´t finish the book before I got home, so all summer it was there waiting for me next to my bed, while I read one book after the other. Then after I came back from my summer holidays in Cuba I felt comfortable enough (in Spanish) to finish the last few stories as well.

Some of the stories really hit me. The touching story about the exile who recognizes the ex president of his country is a brilliant opening story. `El avion de la bella durmiente` is about the sleeping beauty in the airplane. If you, like my self, love travelling, I´m sure your mind must have made the same wanderings as mine or as GGM in this story. Señora Forbes could be a children´s story. The last story about an injured woman on her honeymoon dragged along a bit too much in my opinion. Tramontana could be an article as well.

All in all I enjoyed reading these stories, though this is certainly not his best book.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

6:20PM - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Por la libre (03-044)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Por la libre (03-044)

After nearly two weeks into my holiday I had finished all books I had taken. Not a bad sign, just meant I needed a new book, and I needed it quick. So with the supply of English books next to zero, I had to resort to a Spanish book. I have read Spanish books in the past, yet I also realised that a complete or epic novel is too complicated for my language skills. GGM has been one of favourites for a decade and a half I guess, but he has written so many books, it is nearly impossible to keep up. Some of his smaller novels I managed in Spanish, his masterpiece, 100 years of solitude, in translation.

Luckily I bumped into this book, volume 4 of a series of his work as a journalist (Obra Periodista 1974 - 1975), so I decided to spend a few dollars on this one. I have not regretted it for one second. The very first story about Chile dragged me into it, with a former CIA-agent confessing the scary role the Americans played in the coup of 1973. I'm still wondering, how, when this article has been published first in Colombia in 1974, Kissinger ever won the Nobel peace prize.

The story on his visit to Cuba was very interesting to read, while visiting the island myself. His admiration for Fidel is well known; though I had expected GGM to be able to divide his political preference to the reality, therefore I consider this story to be under his level. Yet in the end I knew a lot more about a lot of things that happened in recent history. Angola, Congo, Vietnam, Colombia, Cuba, are clearer to me now. I got to know about Philip Agee, Miguel Enriquez, Rodolfo Walsh, Jaime Bateman, Alberto Camps and many others. The Spanish wasn't too difficult, especially as the articles were never longer than 30 pages.

GGM is not just a great author; he is also a great journalist. His work gives me plenty to look forward to. Love in times of Cholera is waiting for me. So is another volume of his journalistic work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003



There is a new community called Book Swaps. http://www.livejournal.com/users/book_swaps/
check it out. email gavinahand@hotmail.com for questions.
If I'm not allowed to post this here, I apologize and I'll delete it.

Friday, September 5, 2003


This community isnt growing as I'd hoped so let me pose some questions to you all to get discussion going.

What do you consider World Literature? What are your favorites of the genre? What are you reading/want to read in world lit? What places are your favorite to read about?

As for myself, I consider nearly anything outside my own country (the United States) world literature. Obviously in my personal definition it would vary from person to person ;). I especially consider Eastern lit wold lit as here one is usually overwhelmed with Western authors.

I especially love reading about the Asia Minor and Mediterranean areas. I haven't read a whole lot of lit from my preferred areas but have many books on my reading list to change that!

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

11:29PM - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – De tijgerkat (03-041)

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – De tijgerkat (03-041)

Sicily 1860. Times are changing, in Italy as well. Though Italy, the country did not exist as a whole then. On the island the aristocracy is still very important, but for how much longer. In this epic novel one follows the path of Don Fabrizio, the last prince of Salina. His adopted cousin Tancredi adapts to the new life and marries the daughter of the rich mayor of the village. The novel describes 50 years, in fragments. That way some things become very clear, other things one has to read between the lines.

Tomasi himself was from Sicily. He was one of the last old fashioned aristocrats of the island. Certainly some parts of this book must be autobiographical. He was not a writer, this is the only story he ever told. But what a masterful one, if you write only one in your life. In Italy this book has had over 70 reprints. Need I say more? I was impressed, it is a beautiful portrait of a time. Added bonus to just reading a good book, to just reading a nice story.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

7:59PM - Welcome

Welcome! World Literature is a community for the discussion of international literature. Often Western lit, especially of Great Britain and North America, dominates literary discussion and this community's aim is to broaden horizons with discussion on literature from all around the world. Recs, reviews, opinions, etcetera are all welcome.