Some years ago, a friend and fellow bookworm, Kristine Goulding, suggested on this blog that we read a book from every country in the world. And so the reading challenge was born, with only one rule: the writer has to be from the country. We’ve taken our time over it, but we are now up to 114 countries out of 200 (I split the UK into four, added Tibet and Western Sahara to make it more interesting).
During the lockdown, Usha Raman, who writes for this blog, started a podcast called Reading for our times. In each episode, people read extracts from books they love, around a particular theme.
This week’s episode, Reading around the world, is based on the reading challenge. Six readers cover the world with extracts from Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany); The Lunatic by Anthony C Winkler (Jamaica); The Book of Masks by Hwan Sun-won (South Korea); Bestiarios by Julio Cortazar (Argentina); Drive your plow over the bones of the dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland); and The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (Angola). The readings are preceded by a chat that Usha and I had about the reading challenge and what it has meant.
Do listen to the podcast and take a virtual trip around the world! Check out the other episodes too: they range from books that were banned in India, South Asian writers and pandemic preoccupations.