When it comes to joining the Happy-Ending-Dystopic-Stories-in-Translation challenge, it’s pretty easy to make a reading list.
Or, at least, to choose a pool of books, from which you’ll be plucking throughout a given reading year.
But with a challenge like this one, selecting a pool is like waving at the fiction stacks in the local library: the possibilities seem endless.
So I’ll just toss out some random thoughts about some gaps in my reading that I’d like to fill.
I have a sweet little copy of Invisible Man that I haven’t spent any time with. The number of times that I have started and half-read Beloved is truly embarrassing. And I keep saying I’m going to read Joseph Boyden’s books, but I haven’t yet.
And where did I leave Esmeralda Santiago? When she was Puerto Rican, but she’s Almost a Woman, and I know nothing about that yet (to say nothing about her latest novel).
I loved Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony; I want to re-read it and then read past it to the follow-ups. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed Midnight at the Dragon Cafe and haven’t yet had a cup of something hot with Judy Fong Bates’ characters. I haven’t yet read one of Christopher Paul Curtis’ novels.
Alice Walker is one of my Must-Read-Everything authors, and I haven’t read even close to everything yet. Rohinton Mistry is another and I only have one novel left to read, and I’ve been saving it for ages, so I should treat myself, right? Ditto: Sherman Alexie.
And how long have I been saying that I want to read all of Louise Erdrich’s stories and novels? And if I’d ever shut up about how much I loved Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night maybe I could find time to read another of her novels too.
And speaking of maybes: maybe I’ve finally forgotten who is the suitable boy, so that I can try again with Vikram Seth’s novel and get past page 500 without someone spouting a spoiler this time.
But there’s a new book by Nalo Hopkinson due later this year, a continuation of Hiromi Goto’s absolutely smashing Half World, and I’ve been meaning to read David A. Groulx’s poetry since I heard him read at the IFOA last autumn.
So I don’t have a reading list; I’m just reading. At least 25 books…
1. Edward P. Jones’ All Aunt Hagar’s Children (2006)
2. Z.Z. Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (2003)
3. Alice Walker’s You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down (1981)
4. Baratunde Thurston’s How To Be Black (2012)
5. Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred (1979)
6. Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul (2011)
7. Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns (2010)
8. Virginia Hamilton and Patricia McKissack (Two books)
9. Roland and Taneshia Nash Laird’s Still I Rise (2009)
10.Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously (2010)
11. Afua Cooper’s The Hanging of Angélique (2006)
12. Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones (2011)
13. T.J. Cole’s Open City (2011)
14. Natacha Appanah’s The Last Brother (Trans. Geoffrey Strachan, French, 2011)
15. Rachel Lloyd’s Girls Like Us (2011)
16. Roopa Farooki’s The Flying Man (2012)
17. Ai Mi’s Under the Hawthorn Tree (2012)
18. Marguerite Abouet’s Aya de Yopougon, Tome 3 (2007)
19. Edem Awumey’s Dirty Feet (Trans. Lazer Lederhendler, French, 2011)
20. N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010)
21. Marguerite Abouet’s Aya de Yopougon, Tome 4 (2008)
22. Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (Trans. Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, Japanese, 2011)
23. Two books of Inuit Folktales
24. David Alexander Robertson’s Seven Generations Series
25. Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes (2007)
26. Olive Senior’s Shell (2007)
27. Jyotsna Sreenivasan’s And Laughter Fell From the Sky (2012)
28. David A. Groulx’s Under God’s Pale Bones (2010)
29. Khanh Ha’s Flesh (2012)
30. Hiromi Goto’s Half World (2009) A re-read!
31. Hiromi Goto’s Darkest Light (2012)
32. Nalo Hopkinson’s The Chaos (2012)
33. Farzana Doctor’s Six Metres of Pavement (2011)
34. Pasha Malla’s People Park (2012)
35. Kyo Maclear’s Virginia Wolf (2012)
36. Kim Thúy’s Ru (2009; Trans. Sheila Fischman 2012)
37. Rawi Hage’s Carnival (2012)
38 Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan (2012)
39. Tahir Shah’s Timbuctoo (2012)
40. Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s Skim (2008)
41. Rigoberto Menchú’s The Girl from Chimel Trans. David Unger (2000; 2005)
42. Ahmad Akbahpoor That Night’s Train (1999; 2012)
43. Paul Yee’s Ghost Train (1996)
44. Shree Ghatage Awake When All the World Is Asleep (1997)
45. Nalo Hopkinson’s Report from Planet Midnight (2012)
[Edited to add: Challenge complete!]