reading my way through every country in the world…
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Meeting Jo Nesbo

It’s Writers Week in my hometown at the moment which I look forward to as much as Christmas and for much the same reasons: I end up with a ton of new books, I spend days in the company of a cast of hilarious and wonderful people and I usually end up sunburnt.

Today saw me enjoying a perfect Sunday afternoon listening to Norwegian author Jo Nesbo talk about his life of crime…writing and it was fascinating to discover that he:

  • is more inspired by movies and television than other books, particularly Scorcese and some film called Bad Lieutenant which I have never heard of
  • enjoys spending time with his famous character Harry Hole but only in limited doses
  • spent most of his irst trip to Australia holed (pun intended) in a hotel in a Sydney suburb called King’s Cross which is an absolute hole and is known more for people committing crime than writing about it
  • believes a lot of crime fiction is more about looking deep into the character(s) than about the crime itself
  • thinks Superman is boring even with his kryptonite
  • knows exactly what he is going to do with Harry Hole next!

Jo shared the stage with American noir writer Megan Abbott and what was a particularly interesting aspect of the talk for my purposes was that both Jo and Megan talked a lot about the importance of place in crime fiction, think how LA is almost always synonymous with noir fiction such as The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity. Jo claimed his Olso is 90% reality and 10% a “Gotham City” version of Oslo, an image that very much appealed to the audience.

I got Jo’s autograph on a copy of The Redbreast which I am thinking I might read when I get to Norway, although it faces competition with Knut Hamsun’s Hunger…maybe I’ll do both!

Hoping to find some time during week this week to head back to my Wonderland…Writers Week…will keep you posted

The Literary Nomad xx

2012 (Additional) Challenges

As if I haven’t set myself enough of a challenge to read my way around the world, I have decided to participate in a couple of other challenges: the  2012 TBR Pile challenge which is being hosted by The Roof Beam Reader and the African Reading Challenge hosted by Kinna at Kinna Reads.

For the TBR Pile Challenge, I am including three  books that I have ready to go for my own challenge that are from the countries that have already been selcted through my self-imposed rule of using The Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book to randomly decide which countries to visit next. As I don’t know yet which countries I will be visiting after the next five that I have already identified, the other books on this list are from the rest of my MASSIVE stockpile of TBR tomes:


The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa – will be reading this for Angola

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz – has been on my TBR list since I started my challenge and will be reading it for Israel

A State of Independence by Caryl Phillips – I am reading this for St Kitts but also because Phillips is coming to my hometown for our biennial Writers Week and I am looking forward to hearing him speak

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I am sure I will get pelted with rocks (or books) for calling myself a bibliophile yet admitting I have never read a Dickens’ novel in full. To coincide with the bicentennial anniversary of Dickens’ birth (see here for info), I am making it my mission to read Great Expectations this year…the title summing up my own thoughts on this endeavour.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – one of my Mum’s favourites and I have it in a convenient handbag size version too so really I have no excuses not to get through this one.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – there has to be a reason why the mere mention of this book has people hyperventilating over its worthiness and/or showing me their tattoos of quotes from the novel.

Atomised (alt.title is Elementary Particles) by Michel Houellebecq – he is the new l’enfant terrible of French lit and htis book caused such mix reactions that I am intrigued to see whether I will be disgusted or enthralled.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – of all the tomes on my TBR shelf this one’s title does the hardest work to attract me to read it.


Postmodern Pooh by Frederick Crews: deconstructionism, post-structuralist Marxism, New Historicism, feminism, post-colonialism etc. all take their shot at analysing Winnie the Pooh – am intrigued.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks – as a psychologist, I love reading psych-related books

What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – like an episode of QI, Gladwell always makes you think about the world a little differently.

Maphead: Charting the Wide Weird World of Geography Works  by Ken Jennings – of Jeopardy fame, Jenning shares a love affair with maps which will surely offer much interest for me given the purpose of my blog is to learn more about other countries!

Two Alternates

The Lover by Marguerite Duras – even though I have already done Vietnam for my challenge, I have had this book on the TBR pile for ages and am interested in a completely different perspective on the country.

This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Bell Jalloun – another take on Morocco.

For the Africa Reading Challenge 2012, I have to read five fiction or non-fiction books written by African authors and/or set in African countries by the end of the year.

I have three African countries ready to go in my list of five countries I will next be visiting:

Angola – I will be reading The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (see above)

Malawi – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

Sierra Leone – The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

I don’t yet know which other African countries I will be visiting this year but I am sure there will be another two and I will be able to complete this challenge.

Well, I better get started!

The Literary Nomad xx

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