The World Cup…of Fiction?

Jeff VanderMeer • June 14th, 2010 @ 1:13 pm • Book Reviews

I’m a huge World Cup fanatic–planning on watching at least part of every match. For those of you who aren’t, or just need more to do :), there’s always the World Cup of Fiction. Which I just made up.

How do you play? Take one or more of the countries below and do a blog post about your favorite fiction/books from that place/those places. Perhaps leaving out the obvious suspects like the US and England. As for any rules other than that, I’ll leave it up to you.

I’ll tackle a few of these on Omnivoracious in the next couple of weeks, but overlap’s always good. If you do post something, please link it here, too.

What’re the countries?

30 Responses to “The World Cup…of Fiction?”

  1. gonzobrarian says:

    Fantastic idea. Ok, here goes…

    I nominate the Brasilian squad under the work of Rubem Fonseca. Awhile ago I read his “The Taker and Other Stories”, and thought it was marvelous and frightening and passionate (somewhat similar to Ambergris, I must say). Here’s my review.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    awesome–thanks!!! (I’m gonna take notes and do a full list at the end of the “real” World Cup–probably do it on amazon, too.

  3. Larry says:

    OK, that I can do. Would you rather that I take a group or so, do writeups of the fictions I’ve read from those places and then note who should “advance” on aggregate and so forth?

  4. jeff vandermeer says:

    I am not setting rules. just do whatever you want.

  5. Larry says:

    OK. Might have something up by the morning.

  6. emma says:

    I would also have to go with Brazil, for Ignacio Loyola de Brandao’s “Zero,” which I suspect you’ve already read. Someday my Portuguese will be good enough to read it in the original. And for France, “The United States of Africa” by Abdourahman Waberi.

  7. jeff vandermeer says:

    Emma–havent read either. Will now!

  8. Larry says:

    OK, I did a write-up for today’s matches based on what I know of their national literatures. I have a suspicion that it’ll jibe well with the actual sports results, minus the expected closeness of the Côte d’Ivoire-Portugal match.

  9. Changing Wordpress Theme Downgrades PR Site? » Privy Search Engine says:

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  10. Brian Lindenmuth says:

    From a crime fiction perspective if you eliminate the US and UK then South Africa is catching fire right now and could dominate.

    Hmmm, have to think about this one.

  11. weird twitter projects and vuvuzelas « Gonzobrarian says:

    [...] author of le nouveau weird, has come up with an interesting project based on the World Cup.  His World Cup of Fiction is a chance to display your hysteria for the tournament by reviewing works from those countries [...]

  12. Peter says:

    The French could wangle for Yasmina Khadra on their side, too, though me might make a deadly striker for Algeria.

  13. Peter says:

    Yep, it keeps happening. My second post goes up fine, the first one does not, despite two tries.

  14. Peter says:

    OK, let’s try without a signature line:

    Hmm, my first post was swallowed up in the ether. I was going to say that Group A is this competition’s Group of Death (and when has that term been more meaningful than in a crime-fiction competition?)

    For South Africa: Roger Smith, Deon Meyer, Margie Orford, Richard Kunzmann, James McClure, Michael Stanley and Jassy MacKenzie are just the core of a team that could be deep for years.

    The French have Dominique Manotti, Fred Vargas and Tonino Benacquista in a midfield that plays a less attacking style than the vuvuzela-tooters but is capable of deadly surgical strikes.

  15. Anubis says:

    I haven’t limited my nominations to crime fiction. That would exclude some of the writers already mentioned anyway. So here’s my blogpost. In short, I nominated:

    Argentina – Jorge Luis Borges, Leopoldo Lugones, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar, Angélica Gorodischer, Alejandro Dolina, Liliana Bodoc

    Mexico – Carlos Fuentes

    Italy – Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino

    Netherlands – Harry Mulisch

    Spain – Ana María Matute

  16. Peter says:

    And here’s my blog post: http://tinyurl.com/25lps9q

  17. Armand says:

    Australia (no order of merit implied): Patrick White, Randolph Stow, Miles Franklin, Thomas Keneally, David Malouf, Shirley Hazzard, Peter Carey, Morris West, Janet Turner Hospital, Kate Grenville.

  18. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Awesome, all!

  19. franz says:

    If we move beyond fiction, Australia could field the following team of living writers:

    Goalie: Colleen McCullough (massive presence in goal inspires fear).

    Sweeper/libero: Clive James (always sniffing breeze, unmarked opportunist pops up everywhere).

    Stopper/centre fullback: Robert Hughes (powerful, brave, pugnacious, no respect for reputations).

    Fullbacks: Germaine Greer (spoiling player, loves a fight).

    Wingers: David Malouf (silky skills, impeccable dribbler); (

    Defensive midfielder: Thomas Keneally (great lateral roamer).

    Centre:Bryce Courtenay (renowned team player, stoops to anything, never looks at his feet).

    Striker: Peter Robb (knows Italians’ game backwards, likes it rough).

    Forward: J.M.Coetzee (import, skillful back-to-goal player best played as loner).

  20. Naut says:

    For Germany I will limit myself to the non-realist, sometimes lesser known writers:
    Walter Moers, Frank W. Haubold, Andreas Eschbach, Markus Hammerschmitt, Heidrun Jänchen, Tobias O. Meißner, Christoph Hardebusch, Ju Honisch, Frank Hebben, Uwe Post, Anke Laufer

    Germany has some excellent crime fiction and historic fiction as well but I’m no expert in that so I’ll leave it to someone else to find a group of 11 for that genres.

  21. Larry says:

    Since you want links, June 16 matches.

  22. World Wide Wednesday: Kings and Football! | Fantasy Literature's Fantasy Book Reviews says:

    [...] World Cup is currently being played in South Africa. Jeff VanderMeer has introduced the idea of a literary World Cup to celebrate the fact, and, unsurprisingly given his wide reading in different languages, Larry [...]

  23. Peter says:

    Here’s a look at Spain’s lineup in the Worlc Cup of Crime Fiction. One hopes it does better than the Spanish side in the real World Cup: http://tinyurl.com/3xuhmmm

  24. James says:

    As an Irishman watching Mexico beating France 2-0 earlier made me and all my fellow countrymen feel so much better.

    Use Haruki Murakami (Japan) as the goalkeeper. With his surreal lightning reflexes one wouldn’t know if the ball volleyed towards the goal’s top right corner would turn into a cat or if the stadium would disappear.

  25. Submarine Villegiatures and Spidery Jonquil: Jules LaForgue’s “Salome” says:

    [...] a little late to the party, but Jeff Vandermeer proposed recently on his blog the World Cup of Fiction, in which he encouraged people to share favorite pieces of fiction from different countries. I [...]

  26. Jessica says:

    South Africa: Zoe Wicomb’s PLAYING IN THE LIGHT. To tell you anything about it will be to spoil the central mystery, so I will confine myself to this: Toni Morrison loves it, and it’s a brilliant exploration of racism in South Africa.

  27. Literary News: June 25th | BOOK CLUB CLASSICS! says:

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  28. Links e Listas – Fantástico e FC « Rascunhos says:

    [...] World Cup of Fiction –  Tendo como base um desafio lançado por Jeff Vandermeer, Larry compara características literárias e autores dos países entre os quais decorrem jogos do [...]

  29. Is it still a travelogue? « ktravula – a travelogue! says:

    [...] this spirit of the beautiful game, check out this World Cup of Fiction. VN:F [1.9.1_1087]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)VN:F [1.9.1_1087]Rating: 0 (from 0 [...]

  30. Bernardina Leonardo says:

    This post is bang to the funds, so much so I just tweeted it to my pals.

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