Did you follow along over at Three Percent? If not, you can still catch up on all the action. The Women’s World Cup of Literature (henceforth WWCOL) came along just at the right time for a Lizzy in the doldrums. Returning from Germany to grotty Scottish weather – it happens every time. I’m all right now – the Edinburgh Book Festival programme has been published and Charlotte Square beckons. Still at the beginning of June the WWCOL was what I needed.
I don’t sign up for shadow judging – the committment is too great, but I thought, with a committment of one book a week, judging the WWCOL doable. OK it sometimes needed two books a week, but concentrated short spurts were also achievable.
For the record this is my WWCOL shelf. Let’s take it from left to right.
Judges’ names were drawn out of a hat and I was drawn to judge a second round match which would be played between the winner of Match 1 (China, The Last Lover vs Canada, Oryx and Crake) and Match 2 (The Netherlands, The Ministry of Pain vs New Zealand, The Luminaries).
Turnaround time was tight so I made a start on Can Xue’s BTBA winning novel, and quickly abandoned it at page 67. The official judge of the match, Florian Duijsens, called it “utter torture”. I can only agree. I then decided to reread Oryx and Crake (I think for the 4th time.) I found it as compelling as ever. Finished it in one sitting, and I was delighted when it progressed to the second round.
I bought Dubravka Ugresic’s novel in the hope that it would see off Eleanor Catton. (Nothing personal, Eleanor). it didn’t and so my copy remains unread for now, Was I going to reread The Luminaries, a book that hadn’t lived up to the hype on first reading?I decided I would because I suspected that I took it in too many little chunks first time round. This time I took it in 5 huge gulps, but my initial impressions did not change. There was no doubting the result of the match I judged in detail. 3-1 to Canada, and I had great fun writing this piece.
I was then called on to judge the third round match Australia, Burial Rights vs Cameroon, The Dark Heart of the Night. You’re not.hallucinating – that is a purple kindle you see before you, and yes, I did read Cameroon’s entry as a pdf. Not ideal – I couldn’t change the text size on the kindle and eventually read it on an ipad. I will review this in full for Women in Translation month in August, but, suffice to say it never stood a chance against Burial Rites, an historical novel that had previously entranced me and did so again.
This brings me to the semi-final Canada vs Australia, and a tough call which I was dreading. In the end Canada proceeded to the final because of the one-sitting unputdownableness of Oryx and Crake – even on fourth reading. It’s hard to argue with that.
What was going on in the other half of the draw though? Germany, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, was blasting all into oblivion. Would one of the Spanish-language novels it was scheduled to meet in the semis stop it? The third round match – Columbia, Delirium vs Costa Rica, Assault on Paradise – looked really interesting. So I purchased both and opted to read thr Columbian entry first, A brilliant novel, which proceeded to the semis, and one I will review next week for #spanlshlitmonth. Assault on Paradise remains unread for now.
I wasn’t called upon to judge Columbia vs Germany, which would have been even tougher than Canada vs New Zealand, but the other judges put Germany through setting up the Canada vs Germany final, and another reread for me.
I’ve been meaning to introduce rereading into my schedule, and I set myself a target of 4 for 2015. I didn’t expect myself to accomplish that during WWCOL though! And it’s interesting to note that my initial impressions of a book changed only once. Oryx and Crake, always a good book, became a great book on fourth reading.
Which didn’t stop me voting for Germany in the final. Why? Because this was a football match and, if you’ve met Rosalinda, the main protagonist in Alina Bronsky’s novel, you will realise that there is no opposition on this earth capable of withstanding her relentless attacks! The majority of other judges agreed and Germay lifted the trophy!
Lizzy’s final scores: Books read 6 Re-reads 4 New reads 2 DNF 1 TBR 2