Group G for the World Cup is comprised of Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the USA. Here are the books that will be representing these nations:
Germany: Gunter Grass, “The Tin Drum”
Portugal: Jose Saramago, “Blindness”
Ghana: Ayi Kwei Armah, “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born”
USA: David Foster Wallace, “The Pale King”
There is a good reason why this group was named this year’s Group of Death. It’s because all of these teams are powerhouse teams and all these books are powerhouse books. Anyone of these teams can go very deep into the tournament.
Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum is about a dwarf named Oskar Matzerath who narrates the story himself from inside a mental hospital. This is the story of his survival through World War II Nazi occupied Poland.
Jose Saramago was Portugal’s best known writer. Blindness is a chilling novel of a mysterious epidemic and a society’s disintegration. Bleak? Yes. Boring? Never.
The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born was recommended to me by a library customer. This is a book that has still stayed with her many years after reading it. It’s about a man trying to reconcile himself with post-independence Ghana and the new challenges it brings. If you read Swahili you can check it out of the EPL. The original version was written in English.
Is there a book that better exemplifies the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) than David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King? Certainly not. A hulking 534 page, unfinished novel by an author who killed himself at the peak of his powers. A novel about the stifling bureaucracy and boredom of the IRS where the main protagonist is also named David Foster Wallace. The Pale King is just like the USMNT. They are both complete yet incomplete at the same time. The Pale King is an unfinished novel that was put in proper order posthumously by its editors. The USMNT has sent a full squad to Brazil but could their squad really ever be full if it doesn’t include Landon Donovan? Certainly not. If you ask American fans, the USMNT is favoured to go deep into the tournament but they will inevitably end up leaving the tournament earlier than expected. The Pale King was lauded by critics when it was released and, despite being unfinished, still managed to be shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize, ultimately losing out to NOBODY in 2012. That’s right, The Pale King was so good but also not good enough to win the Pulitzer in 2012. A year in which the jury decided to not award a prize to anyone that year. It would be like if the USMNT made the World Cup finals this year but right before the big game FIFA decides to cancel the game because neither team is really good enough or worthy of winning the World Cup trophy.
That would suck.
My Soccer picks: Germany, Portugal
My Literature picks: Ghana, USA