Monday, 14 June 2010

Mr B's World Cup of Books: Day 2

Day 2 brought the World Cup fever to England, but before we took centre stage, up stepped Greece and South Korea.

Representing Greece for our version of things is one of their leading contemporary novelists Panos Karnezis with his latest translated release "The Convent" (set, confusingly, in a delapidated and remote convent in the Spanish sierra).

Up against him for South Korea, our first bit of slight cheating due to the difficulty of finding an actively translated South Korean novelist. We resorted instead to the excellent Korean-American novelist Chang Rae-Lee. Not his latest which is a little too chunky to devour during half-time breaks, but his 2005 novel, "Aloft".

Result: Rae-Lee 2 Karnezis - 0.

Next up. Argentina v. Nigeria. Four years ago we went with Borges to represent Argentina. But it seemed too obvious to repeat that now, plus we're trying to focus on really slim put-them-in-your-pocket-to-read-at-halftime novels. So this time around it's Adolfo Bioy-Casares with his psychological sci-fi classic "The Invention of Morel".

But he faced a toughie in his opening match. The undisputed champion of Nigerian literature, Chinua Achebe. To ring the changes slightly we steered clear of his masterpiece autobiographical fiction titles "Things Fall Apart" and "Never at Ease" and went for his Booker-prize shortlisted novel of African dictatorship and political upheaval, "Anthills of the Savannah".
Result: Casares 1 Achebe 0

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