Group H is the final group in the World Cup. It is comprised of Belgium, Algeria, Russia, and South Korea. Here are the books that will be representing them:
Belgium: Julio Cortazar, “Hopscotch”
Algeria: Albert Camus, “Exile and the Kingdom”
Russia: Vladimir Nabokov, “Lolita”
South Korea: Matthew Salesses, “Our Island of Epidemics”
This group is all about people that were born in one place and then moved to another. First up we have Belgium and Julio Cortazar. Argentines are so good at everything that they are even great at being Belgian. Cortazar was born in Belgium to Argentine parents who worked for some Argentine diplomacy group there. The Argentine governent has since denied that the Cortazars were working for them. Hopscotch is a wildly inventive novel. There are actually two different ways to read it. The first is from beginning to end like a normal book, and the second is to read the chapters in a sequence that is recommended by the author in the introduction, thus making the reader have to jump around and back and forth, like they were playing hopscotch. Excellent!
Albert Camus was born in Algeria but was French and lived in France mostly. Most known for his The Stranger novel, the collection of stories in ‘Exile and the Kingdom” show another side to Camus’ writing. The stories are set in north Africa, Paris, and even Brazil. Camus can do!
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is one of the great books of the last 100 years. Nabokov was born in Russia but later moved to Paris. An interesting note about this book is that it is written originally in English. Nabokov is a master of language and storytelling and even though the subject matter of Lolita is not for everyone, his writing powers should never be underestimated.
Finally we have South Korea and Matthew Salesses. Matthew was born in Korea and adopted by an American family when he was two years old. Our Island of Epidemics is an enormously entertaining collection of tiny tales. It’s got more imagination in one page than most novels have in the whole book. Matthew is a great writer and a great person. We are friends on Facebook but have never met.
My soccer picks: Belgium, South Korea
My literature picks: Russia, South Korea