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B-Countries… finished!

From The Bahamas to Burundi: Traveling the literary world, 17 more stops

I did not realise there were so many countries starting with the letter B, but I guess you never stop learning. I started reading in July 2019 with a book from The Bahamas (now, during corona lockdown, just writing about The Bahamas makes me long for sandy beaches and crystal clear oceans…) and I finished my trip in Burundi in March 2020. I read quite a few books in between though because not all of my reading can be themed and educational.

The B-countries exposed me to a lot of different topics, styles, and authors – I enjoyed some of the books very much and others not so much (or not at all) but that’s how life is. Here’s an unordered list of three favourites (that doesn’t mean that other books weren’t good!):

All the countries I’ve been to through literature in the last eight months!

But now, on to the complete list. Links go to my original blog entries.

The Bahamas: Jumping Into Island Life
Life On A Rock // K.A. Albury

Title: Life On A Rock
Author: K.A. Albury
First published: 2009

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to give up your sheltered urban existence to move to remote island and work as island managers? Well, that’s exactly what K.A. Albury and her husband did (spoiler: includes a lot of distress calls).

Read the full review here.

Bahrain: Fighting Through Fantasy-Land
Titanlord // M.G. Darwish

Title: Titanlord
Author: M.G. Darwish
First published: 2018

For fans of battle scenes, this is a gory and violent self-published fantasy story.

Read the full review here.

Bangladesh: Civil Unrest & Political Persecution
Lajja: Shame / Taslima Nasrin

Title: Lajja: Shame (OT: লজ্জা)
Author: Taslima Nasrin
First published: 1993

Set during the ethnic conflicts in Bangladesh in the early 1990s, this is not an easy book to read. Themes include religious persecution, violence, death, fear, hopelessness and devastation.

Read the full review here.

Barbados: Magical Realism… and Djombis!
Redemption in Indigo // Karen Lord

Title: Redemption in Indigo
Author: Karen Lord
First published: 2010

I love magical realism and I loved this book. It’s a retelling of a Senegalese folk tale, but focusing on the folk tale’s hero’s wife.

Read the full review here.

Belarus: Escaping A Totalitarian Regime
Die Elster auf dem Galgen // Alhierd Bacharevič

Title: Die Elster auf dem Galgen (OT: Сарока на шыбеніцы )
Author: Alhierd Bacharevic
First published: 2009

The past, the present, computer games, totalitarianism, dwarves in a computer game… this book was very confusing.

Read the full review here (in German).

Belgium: Highway-Freedom
Schlusslichter // Georges Simenon

Title: Schlusslichter (OT: Feux Rouges)
Author: Georges Simenon
First published: 1953

Maybe not the best choice for Belgium, since it is set entirely in the U.S. (and most of it on a highway) but quite entertaining nonetheless. A lot of focus on whisky and cars, but yes, those were the 50s… I guess.

Read the full review here (in German).

Belize: Coming-Of-Age On A Tiny Island
Beka Lamb // Zee Edgell

Title: Beka Lamb
Author: Zee Edgell
First published: 1982

In this book, Beka, a young girl, and her home country of Belize go through their formative years together. I recommend reading a bit about Belize’s history before starting the book (I did so about half-way through and wish I had done so earlier).

Read the full review here.

Benin: Trying To Escape Poverty
Iman // Ryad Assani-Razaki

Title: Iman (OT: La Main d’Iman)
Author: Ryad Assani-Razaki
First published: 2011

Not a happy or easy to digest book, but an outstandingly good one. In this story about a young man trying to escape poverty, friendship and hope go hand in hand with desperation and trauma.

Read the full review here (in German).

Bhutan: A Woman’s Life
The Circle of Karma // Kunzang Choden

Title: The Circle of Karma
Author: Kunzang Choden
First published: 2005

Tsomo grows up in a small Bhutanese village, not being allowed to learn how to read and write. She embarks on a journey to find happiness and learn how to make her own decisions. I really liked this book and I’m hoping for a movie!

Read the full review here.

Bolivia: South American P.S. To The Third Reich
Die Affekte / Rodrigo Hasbún

Title: Die Affekte (OT: Los afectos)
Author: Rodrigo Hasbún
First published: 2015

This was my second try at Bolivian literature (I didn’t even finish the first one). The story, a fictionalized drama around Hans Ertl and his daughters, especially Monika, did not majorly impress me.

Read the full review here (in German).

Bosnia and Herzegovina: I failed

I tried with two different books, but wasn’t able (or in the mood) to finish either of them. I will keep being on the lookout for a book from Bosnia and Herzegovina (recommendations are welcome!).

Botswana: Coming-Of-Age And Becoming Empowered
Far and Beyon' // Unity Dow

Title: Far and Beyon’
Author: Unity Dow
First published: 2002

Mara’s two sons are dead – some believe from AIDS, but Mara rather wants to turn to traditional rituals to unjinx her family.

Read the full review here.

Brazil: During The Famine
Das Jahr 15 // Rachel de Queiroz

Title: Das Jahr 15 (OT: O Quinze)
Author: Rachel de Queiroz
First published: 1930

Set during the Brazilian famine of 1915, this book follows two families in their struggles during this time: the feudal landowners and a working class family.

Read the full review here (in German).

Brunei: Lost In Brunei
Written in Black // K.H. Lim

Title: Written in Black
Author: K.H. Lim
First published: 2014

Ten-year-old Jonathan runs away from his grandfather’s funeral to… do something. This book was meandering and quite tiring to read, so I didn’t finish.

Read the full review here.

Bulgaria: What Is Happening?
Physik der Schwermut // Georgi Gospodinov

Title: Physik der Schwermut (OT: Fizika na tagata)
Author: Georgi Gospodinov
First published: 2011

Another book I didn’t finish because… well, there wasn’t really a good story line.

Read the full review here.

Burkina Faso: No.

I started reading a little collection of (children’s) tales called Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso but didn’t finish it because none of them made sense. Couldn’t find anything else.

Burundi: Civil War From A Child’s Perspective
Kleines Land // Gael Faye

Title: Kleines Land (OT: Petit Pays)
Author: Gaël Faye
First published: 2016

After three disappointments in my chosen books, I was so happy to find this little gem about Gabriel, whose life changes drastically when civil war breaks out in Burundi. It has all the difficult topics you would expect but also true literary beauty.

Read the full review here (in German).

Now, on to the C-countries… another 18 stops all over the world, so, keeping my speed, I’ll return home next year. You can, of course keep updated by reading the regular blog entries.

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