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Read the World – Europe

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Read the World – Europe


“To Rome, for everything,” wrote Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote. Indeed, some of the greatest writers the world has known hail from the old country. While the literary canon most westerners study includes French, Russian, Spanish, and German classics, recent works from many other European countries have made their way to our shores in translation.

These stories cover the gamut of human experience, from glamor and romance, to heroism and horror, decaying neighborhoods, and sexual anxiety. Some of the most prolific and celebrated contemporary writers publishing today—Fredrik Backman (Sweden), Elena Ferrante (Italy), Karl Ove Knausgaard (Norway), and Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), to name just a few—share intimate, quotidian details of life in these countries. What a beautiful time to be a reader in this world! 

read the world silent book club

Click for more installments of Read the World about Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Middle East


My favorite reads by European authors are Emile Zola's The Belly of Paris—a gift of sensuality and storytelling—and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I found it faultless, haunting, and dazzling.

I am also quite enthusiastic about Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series, but despite being one of Norway’s leading writers, he does not really write about Norway. Please feel free to debate this!

— Sharon

Vasil Bykau Alpine Ballad / Svetlana Alexievich Voices from Chernobyl or Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets / Uladzimir Karatkevich King Stalch’s Wild Hunt / Ivan Melezh People of the Marsh 

Bosnia and Herzegovina Zlata Filipovic Zlata’s Diary / Saša Stanišić How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone / Aleksandar Hemon The Lazarus Project / Ivo Andric The Bridge on the Drina / Meša Selimović Death and the Dervish or Fortress

Bulgaria Elias Canetti The Tongue Set Free / Georgi Gospodinov Natural Novel or The Physics of Sorrow / Kapka Kassabova Street Without a Name or A Journey to the Edge of Europe / Milen Ruskov Thrown into Nature 

Czech Republic Bohumil Hrabal Too Loud a Solitude / Hana Demetz The House on Prague Street / Jáchym Topol Nightwork / Josef Skvorecky The Mournful Demeanor of Lieutenant Boruvlea

France Alain-Fournier The Wanderer / Marie NDiaye Rosie Carpe / Marie Darrieussecq My Phantom Husband / Colette The Collected Stories of Colette or Chéri and the Last of Cheri / Raymond Queneau Exercises in Style / Georges Perec Life: a User’s Manual / Jean Echenoz Lightning or 1914 / Delphine de Vigan Underground Time / Faïza Guène Just Like Tomorrow / Alexis Jenni The French Art of War / Laurence Cossé A Novel Bookstore / Hélène Grémillon The Confidant / Jérôme Ferrari Where I Left My Soul or The Principle / Michel Houellebecq Submission / André Schwarz-Bart A Woman Named Solitude / Anna Gavalda French Leave / Emile Zola The Belly of Paris or his Les Rougon-Macquart novels

Germany Jenny Erpenbeck Go, Went, Gone / Günter Grass The Tin Drum / Heinrich Böll The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum / Walter Benjamin Illuminations / Clemens Meyer All the Lights / Christa Wolf Medea / Franz Fühmann / Inka Parei The Shadow-Boxing Girl / Hans Fallada Alone in Berlin / Jurek Becker Jacob the Liar / Herman Hesse Siddhartha 

Hungary Sándor Márai Embers / Dezső Kosztolányi Skylark / Zsigmond Móricz Be Faithful Unto Death / Antal Szerb Journey by Moonlight / Péter Esterházy Not Art / Tibor Fischer Under the Frog / Antal Szerb The Pendragon Legend / László Krasznahorkai War and War / Ferenc Karinthy Metropole / Imre Kertész Fatelessness / Albert Wass / Rejtő Jenő / Péter Nádas A Book of MemoriesParallel Stories / Iván Mándy On the Balcony / Ferenc Molnár The Paul Street Boys

Iceland Arnaldur Indridason Jar City (first in Reykjavik Murder Mystery series) or The Shadow District / Halldór Laxness The Atom Station / Ófeigur Sigurðsson / Gyrðir Eliasson Stone Tree  / Auður A Ólafsdóttir The Greenhouse

Italy Roberto Saviano Zero Zero Zero or Gomorrah / Leonardo Sciascia The Day of the Owl / Fabio Geda In the Sea there are Crocodiles / Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend or The Lost Daughter or The Days of Abandonment / Antonio Tabucchi Pereira Maintains / Diego Marani New Finnish Grammar / Alessandro Baricco Ocean SeaMr Gwyn / Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa The Leopard / Alessandro Manzoni / Luigi Pirandello / Primo Levi / Italo Svevo / Dino Buzzati The Tartar Steppe / Elena Varvello Can You Hear Me?

Norway Karl Ove Knausgaard My Struggle / Per Petterson To SiberiaOut Stealing Horses / Knut Hamsun Hunger / Lars Saabye Christensen The Half Brother / Jan Wiese The Naked Madonna / Linn Ullmann Before You Sleep / Agnar Mykle Lasso Round the Moon / Gerd Brantenberg Egalia’s Daughters / Sigrid Undset Kristin Lavransdatter / Carl Frode Tiller Encircling

Poland Stanislaw Lem Solaris / Olga Tokarczuk Primeval and Other Times / Pawel Huelle Cold Sea Stories / Zygmunt Miloszewski Entanglement or A Grain of Truth/ Witold Gombrowicz Pornografia / Wiesław Myśliwski Stone upon Stone / Magdalena Tulli In Red / Dorota Maslowska Snow White and Russian Red / Marek Krajewski The Eberhard Mock books / Grazyna Plebanek Illegal Liasions / Antoni Libera Madame / Andrzej Stasiuk On the Road to BabadagDuklaFadoNineWhite Raven / Stefan Chwin Death in Danzig / Michal Witkowski Lovetown / Jacek Hugo-Bader White Fever / Wojciech Jagielski The Night Wanderers / Kazimierz Moczarski Conversations with an Executioner / Wojciech Tochman Like Eating a Stone / Olga Tokarczuk Flights

Romania Herta Müller The Passport / Filip and Matei Florian The Baiut Alley Lads / Mircea Cartarescu Nostalgia / Mircea Eliade The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

Russia Alina Bronsky The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine / Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn In the First Circle or One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich / Vladimir Sorokin Day of the Oprichnik / Mikhail Lermontov A Hero of Our Time / Mikhail Bulgakov The Master and Margarita / Roman Senchin MINUS / Oleg Zaionchkovski Happiness is Possible / PD Ouspensky Strange Life of Ivan Osokin / Alan Cherchesov Requiem for the Living / Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina or War and Peace

Slovenia Slavoj Žižek / Nataša Kramberger Heaven in a Blackberry Bush, a Novel in Stories / Andrej Blatnik You do Understand / Andrej Skubic Fužine Blues / Miha Mazzini The German Lottery / Vladimir Bartol Alamut / Luka Novak The Golden Shower or What Men Want / Vladimir Bartol Alamut

Spain Miguel Delibes Five Hours with Mario / Javier Cercas Soldiers of SalamisThe Anatomy of a Moment / Alberto Mendez The Blind Sunflowers / Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote (trans. Edith Grossman) / Carlos Ruiz Zafón The Shadow of the Wind or The Angel’s Game / Enrique Vila-Matas Vampire in Love or Dublinesque / Juan Goytisolo Exiled from Almost Everywhere / Antonio Muñoz Molina Sefarad / Javier Marías The Infatuations

Sweden Fredrik Backman A Man Called Ove; My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry; BeartownHenning Mankell Faceless Killers (first in the Kurt Wallander series) / Per Olov Enquist The March of the Musicians or The Story of Blanche and Marie / Jens Lapidus Easy Money / Karin Altenberg Island of Wings / Jonas Hassen Khemiri Montecore / Hjalmar Soderberg Doctor Glas / John Ajvide Lindqvist Let the Right One In / Jonas Jonasson The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared / Lena Andersson Willful Disregard 

Turkey Orhan Pamuk Snow / Latife Tekin Dear Shameless Death / Elif Shafak The Forty Rules of Love / Erendiz Atasu The Other Side of the Mountain or A Midlife Dream / Orhan Kemal In Jail with Nazim Hikmet / Sabahattin Ali (*born in Bulgaria) Madonna in a Fur Coat / Yaşar Kemal Memed, my Hawk / Sait Faik Abasıyanık A Useless Man: Selected Stories / Güneli Gün On the Road to Baghdad / Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar The Time Regulation Institute / Sema Kaygusuz The Well of Trapped Words

Photo by David MaskaIllustration by KateMacate / Shutterstock

About the author: Sharon K. is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She is the host of the Portland, Maine chapter of Silent Book Club. You can follow her on Instagram here.