Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Book Pile: Voting Results

In case you’ve forgotten, a month ago I asked readers to pick 10 books from my reading pile. Response was quite positive, and I thank everybody who stopped by to participate. It’s a strong, diverse, surprising, challenging list; very international, a mixture of classics and contemporary fiction; a spitting image of my blog, if I may be so bold as to say:

Gustave Flaubert: Sentimental Education (8)
Julio Cortázar: Hopscotch (7)
Antonio Tabucchi: Requiem (5)
Thomas Pynchon: Mason & Dixon (4)
William Faulkner: Wild Palms (4)
Selma Lagerlof: The Miracles of the Antichrist (3)
Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (3)
Peter Nádas: Parallel Stories (3)
Karl Kraus: The Last Days of Mankind (3)
Agustina Bessa-Luís: Vale Abraão (3)

The last book didn’t actually get three votes; I had a slew of two-vote choices and I needed to break the tie to complete the list; in principle I should have selected the first option to get two votes; but I took into consideration a few factors. First of all I noticed there was no Portuguese writer on that list, and that kind of irked me; I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the what’s going on in Europe, but we’re seeing a recrudescence of nationalist parties and chauvinist, and I suppose that must mean something. As my literary idol, Curzio Malaparte, once said when accused of joining the fascists, “I wanted to be a man of my time.” So I decided to be a man of my time too, embrace the trend, join the crowd, therefore I gave preference to a countryman instead of a filthy, job-stealing foreigner. But to atone I also thought the list could do with another woman writer. So my choice has a bit of right- and left-wing stuff, there’s a bit of everything here to appeal all across the political spectrum; although a man of my time I try to be even-handed. Also, Obooki entrusted me with 8 votes for Portuguese writers; well, considering 9 writers had gotten theirs fair and square, it seemed like a bit of a cheat to cast votes myself – after all, the point of this game is that the choices are random in order to force me to read books perhaps I wouldn’t otherwise pick up from my book pile. But it seemed unfair to him not to select at least one Portuguese novelist. So my choice was Agustina Bessa-Luís: she’s a very old lady, very much admired, considered Portugal’s best living novelist, in fact some critics rank her above Saramago and Lobo Antunes, and I absolutely detest her books. So there was also that reason to choose her.

So here’s the list; I’m already reading Flaubert’s tome. Expect more developments in the coming days.

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