May 2014 Wrap-Up

What happened in May?  With IFFP duties finally over for the year, it was just another month, with another pile of books…  My K-Lit obsession is now in full swing, and you can rest assured that there’ll be plenty of reviews of Korean literature in the coming months (especially now that I’ve discovered the joys of my local university library!).

But let’s move on to the stats, shall we?

Total Books Read: 10

Year-to-Date: 56

New: 8

Rereads: 2

From the Shelves: 2
Review Copies: 5

From the Library: 3
On the Kindle: 1 (1 review copy)

Novels: 7

Novellas: 1
Short Stories:2
Non-English Language: 10 (5 Korean, Icelandic, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic)
In Original Language: 0
Aussie Author Challenge: 0 (0/3)

Books reviewed in May were:

1) Ten by Andrej Longo
2) An Appointment with His Brother and Other Stories by Yi Mun-yol
3) Dispute over a Very Italian Piglet by Amara Lakhous
4) A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli
5) Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman
6) Running through Beijing by Xu Zechen
7) The Guest by Hwang Sok-yong
8) They Were Counted by Miklós Bánffy
9) Papers in the Wind by Eduardo Sacheri
10) The Dwarf by Cho Se-hui 

Tony’s Turkey for May is:
Edith Grossman’s Why Translation Matters

Translation matters, and Grossman is a world-famous exponent of the art.  However, this book, taken from some lectures she gave on the subject, is nothing more than a turkey – a huge disappointment 😦

Tony’s Recommendation for May is:

Miklós Bánffy’s They Were Counted
If I’m honest, this wasn’t a great month for reviews, with Grossman’s turkey accompanied by reviews of some good, but unexceptional, books.  Some of the better books included those by Hwang Sok-yong and Amara Lakhous, but in this company, Bánffy’s lengthy story of a society on the brink of its downfall stands head and shoulders above the competition 🙂


I’m very excited about what’s coming up in June – not just because I have a stack of books that I’m eager to get reading, but also because one of my favourite events is up again.  The eighth edition of Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge starts in June, and (as always) I’ll be dusting off some books on my J-Lit shelves to join in.  I’ll also (finally!) be starting the book I decided I would finish this year – The Tale of Genji 🙂


8 thoughts on “May 2014 Wrap-Up

  1. Thanks for the heads up, almost forgot about the Japanese Literature Challenge! Not sure how active I'll be though.

    As for K-Lit, I'm glad you're all into that now… because I've been meaning to ask: any recommendations? 🙂 I haven't read much yet but I intend to right that wrong!


  2. Carola – I'd suggest a couple of recent publications to kick off with. Jang Eun-jin's 'No One Writes Back' (from the Dalkey Archive series) is an excellent modern story, and Shin Kyung-sook's new one 'I'll Be Right There' (out next week) is one I really enjoyed. I reviewed the Jang book a while back and my review of the other one will be out on Monday 🙂

    Just don't bother with 'Please Look After Mother'…

    Also, I'd recommend going over to and looking at some of the free online stuff by some great writers. I've already posted on my experiences with Kim Young-ha and Yi Mun-yol, and that's another way to go about getting a feel for the literary culture. Of course, with your background in Japanese, K-Lit won't be as much of a stretch for you as for some 😉


  3. Thank you for the recommendations 🙂 I read one book by Kim Young-ha and enjoyed that. I'm glad you're ahead of me with K-lit, because I can't wait to read more and trust your opinion!

    I have pretty good access to Korean literature at work thankfully 🙂 So I can go all out with your recs 😀

    (I keep seeing Please Look After Mother everywhere (had it in my hands in the book store a number of times) so thanks for the warning 😉 )


  4. Maybe I'll go back to Genji for June. I was almost halfway through when I stopped. It's a marvelous book, but a challenging one. I suggest people read it without having reading all of it as a goal. I think it's more enjoyable if you're not trying to read it all.


  5. p.s. Thrilled you're joining in the JLC8!! The opening post is up, and I reminded everyone to save room for January in Japan. I've always wanted to read The Tale of Genji…I have an abridged version, but that doesn't seem quite right…must buy the official thing if I'm going to read it.


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