Tag Archives: Spanish literature

My Book Year 2019

The year 2019 is almost over and it is time to look back at my reading and blogging experiences.

After a hiatus, I started again to blog more or less regularly and I hope this will be also the case for 2020.

As for my reading, I didn’t keep a diary to track down the books I read this year, but the number is approximately 130, so roughly two and a half books per week, of which around 60% were fiction, 40% non-fiction. Almost all books I read were “real” printed books, only one book was read electronically. I read books in four languages (German, English, French, Bulgarian).

Every book year brings interesting discoveries, pleasant surprises, some re-reads of books I enjoyed in the past, and a few disappointments. Here are my highlights of the last year:

The most beautiful book I read in 2019: Arnulf Conradi, Zen und die Kunst der Vogelbeobachtung (Zen and the Art of Birdwatching)

Best re-reads in 2019: Michel de Montaigne, Essais; Karl Philipp Moritz, Anton Reiser; Salomon Maimon, Lebensgeschichte (Autobiography)

Best novels I read in 2019: Marlen Haushofer, Die Wand (The Wall); Uwe Johnson, Jahrestage (Anniversaries); Jean Rhys, Sargasso Sea

Best poetry books I read in 2019: Thomas Brasch: Die nennen das Schrei (Collected Poems); Johannes Bobrowski, Gesammelte Gedichte (Collected Poems), Franz Hodjak, Siebenbürgische Sprechübung (Transylvanian Speaking Exercise); Yehuda Amichai, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai; Anise Koltz, Sich der Stille hingeben (Surrender to the Silence); Mahmoud Darwish, Unfortunately It Was Paradise; Vladimir Sabourin, Останките на Троцки (Trotzky’s Remains); Rainer René Mueller, geschriebes, selbst mit stein

Best Graphic Novel I read in 2019: Art Spiegelman, Maus

Best SF novel I read in 2019: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, The Doomed City

Best crime novel I read in 2019: Ingrid Noll, Halali

Best philosophy book I read in 2019: Ibn Tufail, The Improvement of Human Reason

Best non-fiction books I read in 2019: Charles King, The Moldovans; Charles King, Midnight at the Pera Palace; Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom; Adriano Sofri, Kafkas elektrische Straßenbahn (Kafkas Electric Streetcar); Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Lucy Inglis, Milk of Paradise; Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, Sacred Trash; Sasha Abramsky, The House of Twenty Thousand Books

Best art book I read in 2019: Hans Belting, Der Blick hinter Duchamps Tür (The View behind Duchamp’s Door)

Best travel book I read in 2019: Johann Gottfried Seume, Spaziergang nach Syrakus (Walk to Syracuse)

Biggest book disappointment in 2019: Elena Ferrante, Neapolitan Novels

Favourite book cover in 2019: Ivo Rafailov’s cover for the Bulgarian edition of Marjana Gaponenko’s Who Is Martha? (this edition is upcoming in January 2020)

Most impressive translator’s work: Jennifer Croft’s translation of Flights by Olga Tokarczuk; Vladimir Sabourin’s translations in his Bulgarian poetry anthology Радост на Началото (The Joy of the Beginning)

Most embarrassing authors in 2019: Peter Handke; Christoph Hein; Zachary Karabashliev

Good as always: Vladimir Sorokin, The Blizzard; Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart; Ismail Kadare, The Traitor’s Niche; Jabbour Douaihy, Printed in Beirut; Georg Klein, Die Zukunft des Mars (The Future of the Mars); Phillipe Claudel, Le rapport de Brodeck (Brodeck), Kapka Kassabova, Border; Naguib Mahfouz, The Midaq Alley

Interesting Authors I discovered in 2019: Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds; Olga Tokarczuk, Flights; Isabel Fargo Cole, Die Grüne Grenze (The Green Border); Hartmut Lange, Das Haus in der Dorotheenstraße (The House in the Dorotheenstraße); Erich Hackl, Abschied von Sidonie (Farewell to Sidonia)

And which were your most remarkable books in 2019?

© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-9. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bartleby & Co.

The hero – if I can call him that – and narrator of Bartleby & Co., a novel by the Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas, is a failed writer who had published as a young man a novel on the impossibility of love. As a result of a personal trauma and the reaction of his surrounding to the publication of the book, he has become silent as an author, a modern Bartleby that spends most of his uneventful life in an office. A misheard remark of a colleague (“Mr. Bartleby is in a meeting”.) triggers in him again an urge to write –  a novel in the form of footnotes on the representatives of what he calls “the Literature of the No”, a collection of aphorisms, short musings and essays, glimpses of personal memories, quotations from phone conversations with a friend or from letters of a writer, and recollections of meetings with other authors. The 86 footnotes that form the biggest part of the text circle around those authors who at a certain moment in their lives “preferred not to” write any longer, and whom the narrator considers as brothers (although also a female author plays an important role, the “Bartleby syndrome” seems to be by far more widespread among male writers.). The dull and uneventful life of the narrator, together with his tendency to bath sometimes in self-pity are frequently contrasted by remarks that made me smile. A good example which is typical for the “sound” of the book are the opening lines:
“I never had much luck with women. I have a pitiful hump, which I am resigned to. All my closest relatives are dead. I am a poor recluse working in a ghastly office. Apart from that, I am happy.”
The modern “Literature of the No” dates back to the 19th century when the two American writers (and friends) Melville and Hawthorne created their stories Bartleby the Scrivener and The Vicar of Wakefield, two stories about a rejection that in many ways foreshadowed
“future phantom books and other refusals to write that would soon flood the literary stage.” 
In his footnotes, the narrator explores famous examples of the “Literature of the No”, such as Robert Walser or Kafka; and while suicide or mental insanity seem to be among the most popular “strategies” for the Bartlebys among the authors, they are not held in particular high esteem by the narrator. He is definitely more interested in those cases where an author, while still alive simply disappeared from literature. One of the most interesting things about the book is the abundance of examples of authors that are introduced to us readers; while I read many of them and know a few others by name, I discovered also plenty of seemingly extremely interesting writers particularly from the Spanish-speaking literature (mea culpa that I am not so well read in Spanish literature as I should considering the richness of this literary continent) who have fell silent at a certain moment in their lives. Felisberto Hernandez for example was not an author I had on my radar until now, but I will definitely look up what I can find about him. Another interesting author “without a work” is the Italian (non-)author Bobi Bazlen, whose name I came across once in Claudio Magris’ books about Trieste.  I can imagine that one of the most annoying questions for an author must be the following: “What are you writing right now? On what are you working?”; or to an author who hasn’t published anything since a long time: “Why don’t you write again? What is the reason for your silence?” One of the best answers for me to the latter question is that of Juan Rulfo, an author for whose slender work I have the highest admiration:
“Well, my Uncle Celerino died and it was he who told me the stories.”
Not that this Uncle Celerino was an invention, he had really existed and was known as a big storyteller – but there must have been something else behind the silence of Rulfo, something about which he rather preferred not to speak. Our narrator gives us also some examples of his own experience and research that includes a chance meeting with J.D. Salinger in New York, a visit at Julien Gracq’s home, but also personal memories about his childhood friendship with Luis Felipe Pineda, or his infatuation with Maria Lima Mendes, a very impressive example of a female representative of the “Literature of the No” (and possibly made up by Vila-Matas). Hölderlin, Chamfort, Rimbaud, Larbaud, Hofmannsthal, Fernando Pessoa, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and many others make an appearance in these footnotes. And although as a reader we will not resolve in a single case the true reason for the silence of an author, we will have experienced an abundance of witty, comical, tragic, interesting anecdotes, stories, musings when we have finished this – obviously well-translated – book. The narrator of this book (and its author) deserve a place at the Olympus of writers and non-writers of books. Who is able to write wonderful ironic passages like this one:
“I’ve worked well, I can be pleased with what I’ve done. I put down my pen, because it’s evening. Twilight imaginings. My wife and kids are in the next room, full of life. I have good health and enough money. God, I’m unhappy! But what am I saying? I’m not unhappy, I haven’t put down the pen, I don’t have a wife and kids, or a next room, I don’t have enough money, it isn’t evening.”
and who is granting his happy-unhappy and rather unreliable narrator the equally ironic luck to complete this wonderful book about authors who fell silent, must be a great author himself. My first book by Vila-Matas, and for sure not my last.  P.S. And what about those who wrote, but were rejected by too many publishers, and who therefore gave up on being published? Also here, our narrator is helpful. Send your rejected manuscript to the Brautigan Library, the brainchild of underground author Richard Brautigan, nowadays hosted at the Washington State University Vancouver. 
“The Brautigan Library accepts exclusively manuscripts that, having been rejected by the publishers who were sent them, were never published. This library holds only aborted books. Anyone with such a manuscript, wishing to submit it to the Brautigan Library or Library of the No, need only pop it in the post … I have it on good authority – though there they are only interested in bad authority – that no manuscript is ever rejected; on the contrary, there they are looked after and exhibited with the greatest pleasure and respect.”
Enrique Vila-Matas: Bartleby & Co., translated by Jonathan Dunne, New Directions, New York 2004
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Missing in Mexico

Ambrose Bierce, Hart Crane, Arthur Cravan, B. Traven / Ret Marut (or whatever his name was), – it seems that Mexico is the perfect place for authors who want to vanish without traces.

 

Ambrose Bierce: The Enlarged Devil’s Dictionary, Penguin Classics 2001

Carlos Fuentes: The Old Gringo, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007 – a biographical novel about Bierce’s mysterious disppearence in Mexico

Works of Arthur Cravan, translated by A.G. O’Meara, CreateSpace 2014

The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, Centennial Edition 2001

B. Traven: Ich kenne das Leben in Mexiko. Briefe an John Schikowski 1925-1932, Limes 1982 (=I know about life in Mexico. Letters to John Schikowski 1925-1932) 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Procrastinators, take this!

Bad news for the procrastinators among the authors of novels!

According to Enrique Vila-Matas’ very enjoyable book Bartleby & Co. (review to follow), Georges Simenon, the most anti-Bartlebyan author of French language, wrote 41 novels!

And what is even worse, procrastinators – this was his output not of a lifetime of writing. It was what he wrote in one single year: 1929.

Enrique Vila-Matas: Bartleby & Co., translated by Jonathan Dunne, New Directions, New York 2004

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reading/Reviewing Plans

The end of the year is approaching with fast steps. This year I haven’t been so active as a blogger as last year until recently – German Lit Month brought me back to the usual pace – and I have done more blog posts on poetry and translations than the year before; also I did more posts in German and one in Bulgarian too. Book blogging is a dynamic process and the focus of such places will always be subject to small unplanned changes, but I will keep also in the next year my habit to publish reviews of books that were interesting to me.

As you already know when you follow this blog on a regular basis, my taste in books is rather eclectic. I am definitely not a person who is permanently scanning bestseller lists or is jumping in on discussions about books that were – usually for marketing reasons – the “talk of the town”. Therefore I avoided so far reviewing books by Houellebecq or Knausgård; it is difficult to not be influenced by the public discussion that focuses frequently on aspects that have very little to do with the literary quality of the books by such authors but a lot with their public persona and their sometimes very controversial opinions about certain topics. Not that the books by these authors are necessarily bad, but I prefer to read without too much background noise. So I will come also to these authors, but most probably not in the near future.

My blog tries to be diverse, but without quota. But of course my choice is subjective and I am aware of the fact that probably most readers will find many authors/books on this list that are completely unknown to them. If you look for just another blog that is reviewing again and again the same exclusively Anglo-saxon authors, then this might not be the best place for you. If you are eager to discover something new, then you are most welcome. 

There are no ads on this blog and this will also not change in the future. There is zero financial interest from my side to keep this blog alive, I do it just for fun. Please don’t send unsolicitated review copies if you are an author or a publisher. In rare cases I might accept a review copy when contacted first but only when I have already an interest in the book. All blog posts contain of course my own – sometimes idiosyncratic – opinion for what it is worth. In general I tend to write reviews on the positive side. When a book disappoints me, I tend to not write a review unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise.

These are the books presently on my “To-be-read” pile; which means they are the one’s that i will most probably read and review within the coming months. But as always with such lists, they are permanently subject to changes, additions, removals. Therefore I (and also the readers of this blog) will take this list as an orientation and not as a strict task on which I have to work one by one. 

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart

Jim al-Khalili: The House of Wisdom

Ryunosunke Akutagawa: Kappa

Rabih Alameddine: The Hakawati

Sinan Antoon: The Corpse Washer

Toufic Youssef Aouad: Le Pain

Abhijit Banerjee / Esther Duflo: Poor Economics

Hoda Barakat: Le Royaume de cette terre

Adolfo Bioy Casares: The Invention of Morel

Max Blecher: Scarred Hearts

Nicolas Born: The Deception

Thomas Brasch: Vor den Vätern sterben die Söhne

Joseph Brodsky: On Grief and Reason

Alina Bronsky: Just Call Me Superhero

Alina Bronsky: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine

Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

Leila S. Chudori: Pulang

Beqe Cufaj: projekt@party 

Mahmoud Darwish: Memory of Forgetfulness

Oei Hong Djien: Art & Collecting Art

Dimitre Dinev: Engelszungen (Angel’s Tongues)

Anton Donchev: Time of Parting

Jabbour Douaihy: June Rain

Michael R. Dove: The Banana Tree at the Gate

Jennifer DuBois: A Partial History of Lost Causes

Isabelle Eberhardt: Works

Tristan Egolf: Lord of the Barnyard

Deyan Enev: Circus Bulgaria

Jenny Erpenbeck: The End of Days

Patrick Leigh Fermor: Mani

Milena Michiko Flašar: I called him Necktie

David Fromkin: A Peace to End All Peace

Carlos Fuentes: Terra Nostra

Amitav Ghosh: In an Antique Land

Georg K. Glaser: Geheimnis und Gewalt (Secret and Violence)

Georgi Gospodinov: Natural Novel

Georgi Gospodinov: The Physics of Sorrow

Elizabeth Gowing: Edith and I

David Graeber: The Utopia of Rules

Garth Greenwell: What Belongs to You

Knut Hamsun: Hunger

Ludwig Harig: Die Hortensien der Frau von Roselius

Johann Peter Hebel: Calendar Stories

Christoph Hein: Settlement

Wolfgang Hilbig: The Sleep of the Righteous

Albert Hofmann / Ernst Jünger: LSD

Hans Henny Jahnn: Fluss ohne Ufer (River without Banks) (Part II)

Franz Jung: Der Weg nach unten

Ismail Kadare: Broken April

Ismail Kadare: The Palace of Dreams

Douglas Kammen and Katharine McGregor (Editors): The Contours of Mass Violence in Indonesia: 1965-1968

Rosen Karamfilov: Kolene (Knees)

Orhan Kemal: The Prisoners

Irmgard Keun: Nach Mitternacht

Georg Klein: Libidissi

Friedrich August Klingemann: Bonaventura’s Nightwatches

Fatos Kongoli: The Loser

Theodor Kramer: Poems

Friedo Lampe: Septembergewitter (Thunderstorm in September)

Clarice Lispector: The Hour of the Star

Naguib Mahfouz: The Cairo Trilogy

Curzio Malaparte: Kaputt

Thomas Mann: Joseph and His Brothers

Sandor Marai: Embers

Sean McMeekin: The Berlin-Baghdad Express

Multatuli: Max Havelaar

Alice Munro: Open Secrets

Marie NDiaye: Three Strong Women

Irene Nemirovsky: Suite française 

Ben Okri: The Famished Road

Laksmi Pamuntjak: The Question of Red

Victor Pelevin: Omon Ra

Georges Perec: Life. A User’s Manual

Leo Perutz: By Night Under the Stone Bridge

Boris Pilnyak: Mahogany

Alek Popov: Black Box

Milen Ruskov: Thrown Into Nature

Boris Savinkov: Memoirs of a Terrorist

Eric Schneider: Zurück nach Java

Daniel Paul Schreber: Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

Carl Seelig: Wandering with Robert Walser

Victor Serge: The Case of Comrade Tulayev

Anthony Shadid: House of Stones

Varlam Shalamov: Kolyma Tales

Raja Shehadeh: A Rift in Time

Alexander Shpatov: #LiveFromSofia

Werner Sonne: Staatsräson?

Andrzej Stasiuk: On the Way to Babadag

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar: The Time Regulation Institute

Pramoedya Ananta Toer: A Mute’s Soliloquy

Pramoedya Ananta Toer: The Buru Quartet (4 vol.)

Lionel Trilling: The Middle of the Journey

Iliya Trojanov: The Collector of Worlds

Bernward Vesper: Die Reise (The Journey)

Robert Walser: Jakob von Gunten

Peter Weiss: The Aesthetics of Resistance

Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence

Marguerite Yourcenar: Coup de Grace

Galina Zlatareva: The Medallion

Arnold Zweig: The Case of Sergeant Grisha

Stay tuned – and feel free to comment any of my blog posts. Your contributions are very much appreciated. You are also invited to subscribe to this blog if you like.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Polish Boxer

No, the tattooed six-digit number visible on the arm of the narrator’s grandfather is not his phone number as he tells his grandson – it is his inmate number from Auschwitz.

Eduardo Halfon, the narrator/author of The Polish Boxer is a literature professor at a college in Guatemala that seems to be rather frustrated by his job. Year after year he is teaching students that don’t take the slightest interest in literature – but the rare exceptions make up for this disappointment. Juan Kalel, an Indio student is such an exception; he is not only very intelligent and attentive, it turns out that he is also a genuine poet. When he drops out of college all of a sudden, Eduardo wants to find out why…

Later Halfon meets together with his girlfriend a talented classical Serbian/Gypsy pianist at a festival in Antigua; the pianist sends him later strange postcards from all over the world with rather cryptic messages that deal with the origin, fate, and culture of the Gypsy people and especially with their music. Without remarking it first, the narrator gets more and more drawn into the Gypsy music and once the postcards suddenly come to a stop, he travels to Belgrade to find out what happened to Rakic, the pianist who was an outsider in the Serbian and the Gypsy society as well.

And there is the story of Halfon’s grandfather, who survived Auschwitz thanks to the help of a Polish Boxer – that’s what he tells Eduardo, although when a TV crew interviews him about his concentration camp survival, he tells them that he survived exclusively due to his skills as a carpenter. The classical unreliable narrator.

These three stories plus a few smaller ones are interwoven in Eduardo Halfon’s novel. While it starts like a classical campus novel in which a literature professor is talking about different authors and his concept of literature, later visiting an interdisciplinary Mark Twain conference in the United States, the focus shifts completely to questions of identity when he meets the pianist Rakic, who is rejecting his Serbian heritage and wants to become a Gypsy (since he is of mixed origin, he is shunned by both communities). The author/narrator, a Jew that rejects his Jewish heritage (“I have retired from being Jewish”, he says somewhere) is probably attracted to Rakic’s story so much because Rakic, just like him wants to get rid of a part of his heritage in order to become someone else – but that is of course not possible.

The chapter about the Indio poet would make in my opinion a great stand-alone short story. But since Kalel is dropped and never again mentioned during the rest of the book, I was wondering why his story was included in the novel. The same goes even for the story of the Polish Boxer, since the main character in the book (beside the author) is neither the Polish Boxer nor the grandfather, it is the enigmatic pianist. Halfon can write and many pages are really gripping, but as a novel, the book disappointed me a bit. 

My impression of The Polish Boxer is mixed: an interesting author and a text that makes curious to read more by Halfon. As a novel it is for me not very satisfactory. The different parts and story lines fall not always in place, and even the title is a bit odd since we learn next to nothing about The Polish Boxer except the few remarks of the grandfather, a seemingly unreliable storyteller. Maybe we have to wait for Halfon’s next book – I read somewhere that he is working on a follow-up novel to The Polish Boxer – and then maybe some of my questions will be answered, who knows.

A few minor mistakes (like Nejgoš instead of Njegoš) could be easily fixed in  a new edition.

Halfon

Eduardo Halfon: The Polish Boxer, translated by Thomas Bunstead et al., Bellevue Literary Press, New York 2012

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bibliomania, or The House of Paper

Are you a bookworm? Great, then we have a thing in common! Are you a bibliophile, a person who loves books? You are not alone! Are you a book collector? Yes, I also belong to that species! Are you a bibliomane? Uh-oh, then you might be in trouble!

According to Wikipedia, “bibliomania can be a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or even hoarding of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged.” Next to this definition you see a photo of some bookshelves with the neat caption: “Cluttered bookshelf, one symptom of bibliomania.” – No, the photo was not taken at my home – since even cluttering my bookshelves isn’t sufficient anymore for all the books at my place…

Bibliophilia or bibliomania can even have tragic consequences, in fiction and in real life; Peter Kien in Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-fe comes to mind, as well as the real-life biblio-criminals Don Vicente or Magister Tinius, two priests who committed murder out of an insane compulsion to increase their libraries. (Isn’t it interesting that of all people two priests are the most extreme cases of book-insanity?)

The small and charming book The Paper House by Carlos Maria Dominguez (with beautiful illustrations by Peter Sis) fits very well here.

The ingredients: Bluma Lennon, an attractive female English literature professor with a – in the true sense of the word – fatal love of the poetry of Emily Dickinson; her Argentinian part-time lover and successor at the university who is the narrator of the story; a stained and gritty copy of Joseph Conrad’s The Shadow Line; and Carlos Brauer, an Uruguyan book collector who sent this strange copy to Bluma.

While on a visit at home in Buenos Aires, the narrator uses the opportunity to go to Montevideo and to investigate about Brauer and his relationship with Bluma. What he learns from the owner of an antiquarian bookshop in the Uruguayan capital, and a book collector who knew Brauer well, makes the narrator – and the reader! – more and more curious; and when he finally discovers the House of Paper to which the title alludes, Brauer has become a real mystery. Of course I will not give away the full story here – but for addicted readers like you this small book will be a treat, that’s for sure.

The House of Paper is a very enjoyable novella that I read in one sitting. For all of you that have an issue with bibliomania, the book may be also of educational value. Carlos Maria Dominguez is a very productive Argentinian author who lives in Uruguay. The House of Paper makes me curious to read more of his books. If I am not mistaken, this is the only book by him so far translated in English; two of his novels and another book with stories are available in German.

Dominguez

Carlos Maria Dominguez: The House of Paper, translated by Nick Caistor, illustrations by Peter Sis, Harcourt, San Diego 2005

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or 
duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Best Chess Novels

There are more than two hundred belletristic works in my library in which the game of chess plays a more or less important role. Here I have chosen the – in my humble opinion – thirty best novels with chess as one of or the main topic (randomly sequenced):

 

The DefenseEine gefaehrliche BegegnungTactics of Conquest

  1. Vladimir Nabokov: The Defense
  2. Fernando Arrabal: The Tower Struck by Lightning
  3. Rudolf Jakob Humm: Spiel mit Valdivia
  4. Stefan Zweig: The Royal Game
  5. Ichokas Meras: Stalemate
  6. John Brunner: The Squares of the City
  7. Barry N. Malzberg: Tactics of Conquest
  8. Walter Tevis: The Queen’s Gambit
  9. Robert Löhr: The Chess Automaton
  10. Bertina Henrichs: La joueuse d’echecs
  11. Elias Canetti: Auto-da-fe
  12. Paolo Maurensig: The Luneburg Variation
  13. Thomas Glavinic: Carl Haffner’s Love of the Draw
  14. Fabio Stassi: La rivincita di Capablanca
  15. Ronan Bennett: Zugzwang
  16. Wilhelm Heinse: Anastasia or The Chess Game
  17. Gustav Meyrink: The Golem
  18. Samuel Beckett: Murphy
  19. Guillermo Martinez: Regarding Roderer
  20. Andy Soltis: Los Voraces 2019
  21. Ernst Jünger: A Dangerous Encounter
  22. Friedrich Dürrenmatt: The Chess Player
  23. Yoko Ogawa: Swimming with Elephants
  24. Ilya Ilf/Evgeny Petrov: The Twelve Chairs
  25. David Szalay: The Innocent
  26. Jesse Kraai: Lisa
  27. Jennifer DuBois: A Partial History of Lost Causes
  28. Michael Chabon: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
  29. Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  30. Arne Danielsen: The Highest Rank

Just for the record, there is at least one excellent novel available in English translation that is featuring the game of Go: Kawabata Yasunari, The Master of Go (trans. by Edward Seidensticker), Vintage.

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.