Equatorial Guinea is a tricky voyage for the literary explorer. It’s the only African country in which Spanish is an official language and its literature is almost unknown to the rest of the world. My grasp of Spanish being – to put it kindly – rudimentary, I soon discovered that I had a grand total of three novels translated into English to choose from. I picked 'By Night the Mountain Burns' by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel and set sail for the west coast of Africa.
Some book titles don’t give anything away. I’ve sometimes found myself finishing the last page and sliding the book back onto the shelf, still none the wiser. Not so with Jonas Jonasson’s 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared'. There are no prizes for guessing what this bestselling Swedish novel is about.
Jordan is the first Middle Eastern country I’ve visited on my literary tour of the world, and it was with some trepidation that I embarked upon my travels there. I knew I wanted to read a book written by a woman, to hear a female voice from a part of the world where they are so often denied one, and I suspected it wouldn’t be the most cheerful leg of my journey.
If 'Letters From Burma' hadn’t been recommended to me by a friend, I would probably never have come across it.
The Wikipedia page for ‘Tongan literature’ consists of a single paragraph. I knew I wasn’t going to have a huge choice when it came to books from many of the tiny islands in the South Pacific, but I was nonetheless surprised to see just how limited my options were.
Before I began looking for a book for this segment of my literary adventure, Finnish literature was a complete mystery to me.
South America is a continent of which I know woefully little. I’ve watched the odd documentary about Inca temples, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.
Until I decided to visit Botswana on my literary world tour, my perceptions of the country were based almost entirely on Alexander McCall Smith’s 'The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency' books.
Before I begin my review of Sun-mi Hwang’s 'The Dog Who Dared to Dream', I should admit that I am not a fan of stories about talking animals.
It may seem odd to choose my own country as the second destination on my literary world tour, but I just couldn’t resist writing about Sarah Perry’s 'The Essex Serpent' as soon as I’d finished it.
My quest begins in Italy, with Elena Ferrante's 'Neapolitan Novels'.