Announcement: “52 Weeks of Literature”

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Following my recent success of watching and reviewing one film per day for a full month, I have decided to embark on an even more ambitious project. Next year, I am going to read—and perhaps review—fifty (50) novels, which have been predetermined. I will devote roughly one week to each novel, with the exception of the last novel on my list—an epic, classic work of literature for which I will set aside the last three weeks of 2016 because safe to assume, I will need them. You can call this a New Year’s Resolution of sorts. (Turns out, there are plenty of people on the Web who have already been doing this exact same project for several years now; I’ll have to shout out to them. It might get this little blog of mine some much-appreciable publicity—cough, cough.)

Film reviews and book reviews could not be much more different. Films are essentially short stories—novellas, at most; they’re easier to digest and summarize. Novels require a greater time commitment and demand a more in-depth review complete with quotes, close analysis and the like. Full disclosure: a major reason I’m doing this is because I’m spoiled rotten when it comes to literature (cinema, too, to a lesser extent), and as a result, the percentage of books I finish out of all the books I start is far lower than I care to admit. The books I have gotten to the end of, I’ve finished because they have a particular hold on me, thus any review of them that I write is bound to be unusually positive and monotonous. In committing to this project, I am resolving to gain the stamina to read the novels I detest—the novels whose canonical status I come to vehemently disagree with—to the bitter end, as I do invariably with films I can’t stand, so that I am better equipped to review them. This way, it’ll be a maturation process for me. As for the book reviews that I’ll write, they’ll be relatively terse, and they’ll take shape as they go along. I’m not sure quite yet how I will approach them from a formally critical standpoint (not least because this started as a film review blog and is now becoming…well, something decidedly more complex), so I’ll be improvising. Bear with me. It’ll be an experience for writer and reader alike.

In devising my list of books, I stuck to the following rules (similar to my rules for the “31 Days of Cinema” challenge):

  • Maximum four novels per nation—viz., nation of author’s origin. (Exception permitted if the author has an international background.)
  • North, Central and South America; the Caribbean; Western and Eastern Europe; Western, Eastern and Southern Africa; the Middle East; Eastern, Southeastern and Southern Asia; and Oceania all must be represented by at least one novel.
  • All decades since the 1810s, including the 2010s, and the pre-1810s era must each be represented.
  • If we may divide time—starting backwards from 2025—into quarter-centuries, no two novels may come from the same nation and the same quarter-century. (To reiterate: exception permitted if there is an international component.)
  • At least one novel by a female author per month, on average—viz., at least twelve women. (Very soon in this life, I swear, I’m going to go a whole month watching films by female directors only, and a whole year reading novels by female authors only. Very soon.)
  • At least once a month, on average, I am to read a novel I have started but have not finished, from the beginning; at the same time, I must be on my first full-length reading of each novel.
  • For foreign novels, the by-consensus best (usually the most recent) translation is mandatory.

Hence, the list:

Jan. 3-9: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (South African, 1948, 316 pp.)
Jan. 10-16: My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Turkish, 2002, 432 pp.)
Jan. 17-23: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (American, 1943, 528 pp.)
Jan. 24-30: The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes (Mexican, 1985, 208 pp.)
Jan. 31-Feb. 6: A Fringe of Leaves by Patrick White (Australian, 1976, 368 pp.)
Feb. 7-13: Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin (Taiwanese, 1996, 176 pp.)
Feb. 14-20: Transit by Anna Seghers (German, 1944, 288 pp.)
Feb. 21-27: Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (Canadian, 1970, 252 pp.)
Feb. 28-Mar. 5: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (American, 1906, 412 pp.)
Mar. 6-12: Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac (French, 1835, 304 pp.)
Mar. 13-19: The Atom Station by Halldór Laxness (Icelandic, 1948, 202 pp.)
Mar. 20-26: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian, 2013, 588 pp.)
Mar. 27-Apr. 2: The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela (Mexican, 1915, 176 pp.)
Apr. 3-9: A Dry White Season by Andre Brink (South African, 1979, 320 pp.)
Apr. 10-16: A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov (Russian, 1840, 208 pp.)
Apr. 17-23: Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna (Finnish, 1954, 488 pp.)
Apr. 24-30: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (Russian, 1862, 257 pp.)
May. 1-7: Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist (Swedish, 1950, 144 pp.)
May. 8-14: The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (American of Chinese descent, 1976, 209 pp.)
May. 15-21: One, None and 100,000 by Luigi Pirandello (Italian, 1926, 176 pp.)
May. 22-28: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (Norwegian, 1991, 544 pp.)
May. 29-Jun. 4: The Collector by John Fowles (English, 1963, 320 pp.)
Jun. 5-11: Amsterdam Stories by Nescio (Dutch, 1933, 176 pp.)
Jun. 12-18: The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (Anglo-Irish, 1938, 418 pp.)
Jun. 19-25: Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin (French of Cuban descent, 1977, 320 pp.)
Jun. 26-Jul. 2: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (Scottish, 1824, 210 pp.)
Jul. 3-9: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (English, 1847, 286 pp.)
Jul. 10-16: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Dominican, 1966, 176 pp.)
Jul. 17-23: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Japanese, 2005, 288 pp.)
Jul. 24-30: The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski (Polish, 1965, 234 pp.)
Jul. 31-Aug. 6: Guerrillas by V.S. Naipaul (Trinidadian of Indian descent, 1975, 248 pp.)
Aug. 7-13: Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet (French, 1957, 128 pp.)
Aug. 14-20: Petals of Blood by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (Kenyan, 1977, 432 pp.)
Aug. 21-27: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Canadian of Sri Lankan descent, 1992, 305 pp.)
Aug. 28-Sep. 3: The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano (English of Igbo descent, 1789, 104 pp.)
Sep. 4-10: Persuasion by Jane Austen (English, 1818, 288 pp.)
Sep. 11-17: Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (Japanese, 1948, 175 pp.)
Sep. 18-24: Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian, 1957, 208 pp.)
Sep. 25-Oct. 1: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (American, 1994, 352 pp.)
Oct. 2-8: Candide by Voltaire (French, 1759, 144 pp.)
Oct. 9-15: Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (Hungarian, 1941, 288 pp.)
Oct. 16-22: The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût (Indo-Dutch, 1955, 296 pp.)
Oct. 23-29: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (American, 1881, 336 pp.)
Oct. 30-Nov. 5: La Bête Humaine by Émile Zola (French, 1890, 432 pp.)
Nov. 6-12: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (English, 1855, 480 pp.)
Nov. 13-19: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Anglo-Irish, 1726, 178 pp.)
Nov. 20-26: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Indian, 1997, 333 pp.)
Nov. 27-Dec. 3: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg (Danish, 1994, 480 pp.)
Dec. 4-10: The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peruvian, 2000, 416 pp.)
Dec. 11-31: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Russian, 1877, 864 pp.)

Here goes nothing.

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Announcement: “52 Weeks of Literature”

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