I began my Short List Tournament (now renamed Tournament of Books) by determining which book I shall be championing for the Dublin Literary Prize. I had two of the shortlistees in the TBR: Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness (translated from Portuguese by David Brookshaw) and Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth (translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney). Mia Couto is an established superstar in Mozambique and Valeria Luiselli is a rising superstar (or perhaps she has already risen) in Mexico. Certainly I have heard many favourable comments about her in the blogosphere.
So we’re all set for the battle of the continents: Africa vs Central America
Except, all I can say is that this was not a good start to the tournament. I disliked Confession of the Lioness for all the reasons cited in the Independent review here. I have neither time nor inclination to write it up in my own words.
And, while I preferred the quirkiness of The Story of My Teeth, I was still underwhelmed. So I’ll suffice by linking to Tony’s review and answering his final question: No, I don’t think its various components hang together well enough to form a successful novel.
I wouldn’t progress either to the next stage of my tournament but the knock-out nature of the competition means that someone must. At this point I remember Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life (translated from German by Charlotte Collins) is also on the Dublin Literary Prize wshortlist. I loved it. So in it comes on a wild card to KO both of the other contestants.
Next bout: To Be Continued – James Robertson vs Paradise Lodge – Nina Stibbe. Two comic novels to rid me of my grumpiness – hopefully.