Thursday, July 23, 2015

Europa Challenge Catch-Up Part 2

Well now I've officially surpassed my goal of 12 Europa books, having just read my 13th, Fabio Bartolomei's delightful Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles. I will admit I haven't loved them all unreservedly but there have definitely been some gems.

Billie, by Anna Gavalda. I liked this okay but didn't love it. The narration was somewhat manic and confusing at times; a girl is waiting with her best friend who's been injured on a hike. Little by little we get the story of their friendship, and how they ended up in this situation. She's worried her friend will die, and she recounts their story as much for herself as for him. It would be a good YA crossover title. Translated from the French. Backlist.

The Frost on His Shoulders, by Lorenzo Mediano. I feel like I want to re-read this. It's a beautiful and moving story of forbidden love and the price one man pays to prove himself worthy of the woman of his dreams. The story takes place amid a deeply traditional rural Spanish community and reads a bit like a fairy tale. I rated it 4 stars on LibraryThing and I remember liking it a lot. Translated from the Spanish. Buy.

The Distant Marvels, by Chantel Acevedo. A group of women are trapped together during the hurricane that took place in Cuba in 1963, which heavily damaged the island. One woman reminisces about her life during the revolution and the role her family played. She also reveals the terrible secret of her son's fate, a sad tangle of good intentions and misunderstanding. Buy.

The Proof of the Honey, by Salwa Al Neimi. An Arab Muslim woman talks about sex and its role in the Arab world, or lack thereof. It's an interesting and provocative read. Translated from the Arabic. Buy.

Of this batch my favorite is definitely The Distant Marvels, an old-school historical tearjerker, but The Frost on His Shoulders is a sleeper that I think a lot of people would really enjoy.

I'm not done with Europa this year! I still have a couple of unread titles on my bookshelves (you know, one or two), including the new Massimo Carlotto, Elena Ferrante and much more. And there's great stuff still coming out! I'm particularly excited about The Pope's Daughter, a take on Lucrezia Borgia from Dario Fò. Having read Sarah Dunant's Blood and Beauty not too long ago, I'll be interested to read Fò's version.

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