Books

All Dogs are Blue

All Dogs are Blue, written by Rodrigo de Souza Leão, and translated by Zoe Perry and Stefan Tobler.

This is the first real book I read as part of my challenge. In the beginning of the year, I had read books I received for Christmas, so was able to check off some of the easier countries from my list: Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America.

After I finished Ken Follet’s epic story, Edge of Eternity, and still had an afternoon free in front of me, I went looking on our own bookshelves for something else to read. I picked up All Dogs are Blue by Brazilian author, Rodrigo de Souza Leão.  It appeared to be a short book, which is probably what I needed after the previous book of 1098 pages.  But in its own way, this book is exhausting.

I didn’t know much about this book beyond what was on the back cover. It includes an introduction from another author, Deborah Levy, which helped set the scene for me a lot.  There are things that happen later in the book that made more sense with the context that Deborah had created. 

 I have been to Brazil, but done the usual touristy things. Copacabana beach, Christ the redeemer, all that stuff.  None of this features in the book.  This book explore mental illness, which perhaps could be universal.  Treatment and conditions probably vary in different countries, but this book is about a man lost in his psychosis.

This story is confusing and erratic, probably similar to living with psychosis. This semi-autobiographical story shares the author’s experiences of living with schizophrenia. Some sentences are so powerful and then spiral into a more confusing place. There is an underlying feeling of heartbreak.

I was grateful for the endnotes.  There were a number of references to things specifically Brazilian that I definitely would have missed on my own.  Different phrases, local festivals, references to local poets and songs.  The translators did a great job in helping us understand these things.

I feel that perhaps I am not intelligent enough to fully comprehend the importance of this work. I am glad I read it though and I might re-read it again in the future. I think one could probably discover more in the text on re-reading it. 

 This book has been adapted for the theatre, which would be interesting to check out.

Leão also wrote nine other books and was the co-founder of the electronic poetry magazine Zunái.  He rarely left his home, but used social media to stay connected with the world and was able to connect with other Brazilian writers.  He died in a psychiatric care facility shortly after this book was released, with his other works being published since then. You can learn more about Leão at http://www.andotherstories.org/author/rodrigo-de-souza-leao/

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Around the World Reading List

Here is my list of countries, as determined by http://www.listofcountriesoftheworld.com/
I will include the titles and authors of the books I read as I go.
Australia:  Alison by Margaret Watts
  • A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli, Translated by Sam Taylor.  (A story of German soldiers in Poland by a French Novelist, where does this really belong?)  Review. 
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Reading the World

One of my new year’s resolution’s for this year, and many years beyond, was to read a book from every country in the world.

Its hardly an original idea.  I recently discovered that its been done fairly thoroughly over at http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/  But i decided I need a variety of voices in my life. Its easy to fall into the habit of just reading whatever is on the best seller list, usually english speaking white men.  Not always a bad thing, but its time for something new for me.

I found an online book club that reads books around the world, but its about where the book is set rather than where the author comes from, so it easy just to read books set in other countries written by the same voices you’ve always read, but I want a more authentic story.

It can be difficult though.  People don’t always just belong to one country.  Many people move countries.  Someone can be born in one country, and grow up in another.  Some people live in multiple countries. Some people even have citizenship in more than one country.  Some people grow up in a country but still identify themselves as part of the country of their parents.  If an author describes themselves as Haitian American, do I tick off Haiti or USA?

There also seems to be the problem that not every country has books translated into English.  I will leave those countries until the end. Maybe it will change. Otherwise I’ll make do by reading a book set in that country.

I’m also wondering if i should start from scratch, or do i include books that I’ve read in the past.

So i have a lot of questions, but i’ll just feel my way through it and see how i go.

I just wanted to write about it here, because i wanted somewhere to document the journey.  I’ll create a page with a list of countries so that I can mark them off as i go.  I might include some book reviews along the way.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.