World Cup of Literature: Group D

Group D play begins tomorrow. The group consists of Italy, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and England. Here are the books that will be representing these nations:

Italy: Italo Calvino: “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler

Costa Rica: Fabian Dobles, “Years Like Brief Days

Urugay: Horacio Quiroga, “Cuentos Escogidos

England: MJ Hyland, “Carry Me Down

This group is WIDE OPEN. Italo Calvino’s “If On A Winter’s Night…” is a genre-bending meta novel that makes the reader feel like he/she is literally inside the book and alongside the action. It’s a fun and clever book and it celebrates that greatest of all things: books.

Costa Rica’s entry this year is almost a total unknown. Fabian Dobles’ novel is about an old man taking stock of his life and coming to terms with his past. It looks like a good book. Perhaps we should ask the EPL to order a copy for us?

Uruguay’s representative is just like its soccer team: unpredictable, dangerous, depressing, powerful. Horacio Quiroga is the epitome of the tortured artist. His father accidentally shot himself, then his step-father shot himself on purpose, his wife killed herself by ingesting Mercury (and it took 8 days for her to die) and then he himself, while dying of prostate cancer, took some cyanide to end his life at the age of 59, all alone in the jungles of Argentina. Pretty chipper, right? Wait until you read his fiction. Quiroga was like the Edgar Allen Poe of South America, but better. His short stories are all about love, death, and the jungle. Do yourself a favour and learn Spanish or find an English translation of his work and enjoy.

England’s selection is a very personal one. MJ Hyland was my professor at the University of Manchester and she is excellent at writing and at teaching. “Carry Me Down” is about a 12 year old boy in the body of a full grown man. He thinks himself a human lie-detector and is obsessed with the Guiness Book of World Records. Are you hooked yet? If not, you should know that this book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2006. MJ Hyland is so great. You should read some MJ Hyland.

My soccer picks: Uruguay, England

My literature picks: Italy, Uruguay

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