Blackwing, Ed MacDonald

Blackwing feels like the love-child of The Black Company and Dark Souls, but potentially grimmer than either (an impressive feat). On paper, this is my dream combination. The Black Company is one of the best anti-hero fantasies ever written, and Dark Souls is likely the best fantasy video game series ever made. This should make…

Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman is a book about the outsider, the stranger, that individual who does not fit into modern society for reasons that range from obscure to obvious. Keiko hovers somewhere in the middle of that spectrum because to all outward appearances, she is as normal as anyone walking around. She has a job, lives…

The Thief, Fuminori Nakamura

As an avid fantasy reader, the notion of fate is one in which I am well-versed. Fantasy novels often have a multitude of prophecies or destined heroes, and it always requires even more suspension of disbelief than already necessary to read speculative fiction. What I do not often encounter in any fiction, fantasy or otherwise,…

Kingdom Come Deliverance

In college, I minored in Medieval Studies. This is not a common area of coursework in many colleges, but Western Michigan University has an entire department devoted to ye olde ages of yore. The program is fairly well-known, and they host a medieval congress every year for all the academic nerds of the world to…

Ms Ice Sandwich, Mieko Kawakami

It is not often that I so blindly stumble upon a Japanese author without knowing anything beforehand. In this case, I was quite literally browsing library shelves and came upon Ms Ice Sandwich. What a quirky title, I thought, and a Japanese name. I guess I’ll read this. Browsing library shelves, it turns out, has…

The Emissary, Yoko Tawada

Writing weird and quirky fiction,the kind that borders on the fantastic, seems to be a tradition in Japanese literature. Between Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Kobo Abe, and now Yoko Tawada, there is no shortage of puzzling but delightful stories pouring out of Japan. Tawada is no stranger to the Japanese fiction landscape, but she was…

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

I have lost count of how many coming-of-age books I’ve read in my life. It seems like every author, at some point in their career, writes about someone growing up. Growing up is a universal commonality, and so the success of this type of narrative should be no surprise. I happily admit that when well-written,…

The Emperor of the Eight Islands, by Lian Hearn

It seems so obvious to merge fantasy with Japanese folklore, and yet so few authors have done so. Fantasy is historically seldom translated, however, so even if there had been a slew of Japanese fantasy books, I likely wouldn’t know of them. That Lian Hearn is a British woman living in Australia is possibly the…

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

I need to admit something right away – I had a song from Aladdin playing in my head almost the entire time that I read this book. I partly blame myself for watching that movie about a million times as a child, and partly blame author S.A. Chakraborty for creating a character called Prince Ali…

A Girl in Exile, Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known author and poet, and while my goal with this world literature challenge is to read less popular books , the release of Kadare’s newest work, A Girl in Exile, was too timely to ignore. That it deals so intimately with the culture and land of Albania is a major plus…

Fever Dream, Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream is the first book that I am reading for my World of Books project. Samanta Schweblin is an Argentinian-born writer who now lives in Berlin, and this is her first novel. I found this book on Ann Morgan’s blog, and while it doesn’t appear to be set in any particular country, there is…

A World of Books

I was watching the opening to the Winter Olympics in Seoul a few weeks ago, and despite the shame I felt at the aggrandizing of the United States in their ridiculous cowboy gloves, I did manage to open my eyes long enough to notice that there were dozens of countries of which I had very…