In case you missed it last night, that thing with a bunch of weird and wonderful musicians from around Europe was on the tele. It lacked the utterly bizarre that we've come to expect and love from Eurovision, and for some reason Justin Timberlake was there, but it was really good fun and did feature a bit of sexy butter churning, which every live performance needs.
It got me thinking, though, about European literature, and my favourite non-English speaking authors. Because I doubt we'd get a full night of BBC broadcast dedicated to reading from great European authors, I thought I'd do a roundup of my favourites here instead.
Germany: Christa Wolf
I'm a German lit student, so it's hard to pick an actual favourite author. Any of my friends reading will this will go "Really? You didn't pick Goethe?" But I thought I'd stick to somewhat contemporary authors, and given as she only passed in 2011, Wolf was the best pick. She had a bit of a thing for rewriting Greek myths from a very feminist point of view, looking at the women of classical Greece, and her works are a great read with often a political slant.
I've you're a lover of Greek Mythology I'd recommend Cassandra, but if you can read German, check out Kein Ort. Nirgends for a lovely read that's light on the action.
Spain: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
There aren't many Spanish authors that I absolutely love, but I do love a bit of Zafón. His books always have a bit of magic and mystery to them, and are difficult to put down. They're the kind of books you read if you want to escape the world for a few hours and get lost inside someone else's mind.
My particular favourite is The Prince Of Mist but you can find a copy of The Shadow Of The Wind on the shelves of a certain comfy bookshop, if you're quick.
Italy: Elena Ferrante
I've only ever read one book of this lady's, but as she's the only Italian other who isn't Dante that I've read, she makes the list as my favourite Italian author! I love stories about friendships and intertwining lives, so My Brilliant Friend was right up my street and it you're looking for a light, heart-warming read, it might just be up yours too!
Portugal: José Saramago
There's something about Saramago's approach to writing that reminds me of Stephen King. He doesn't write horror books, and they're not particularly spooky, they just seem to have a similar thread of "take one concept of life, tweak it slightly, and write a book about how the world would be affected by that one small change." It great, his books are so imaginative and bizarre and provide a completely new perspective on the world, and have a slight hint of the supernatural in them that King is so fond of.
Death With Interruptions is one book that does just that, and reminds me a bit of a Neil Gaiman / Stephen King crossover and is one to read if you're a curious, speculative kinda reader.
Finland: Tove Jansson
I didn't actually realise this author was Finnish when I read the book - I have a tendency to just walk into shops and pick up books regardless of, well, anything. So while googling authors for this post to jog my memory I came across Jansson and went OH I KNOW HER. She's the creator of the Moomins, it turns out. But that's not why I know her either. She did create other works, ones that aren't centred around white blobs. And she also dumped a man to be with a woman. That's my kinda girl.
If you're looking for something that's completely at the other end of the spectrum from the Moomins, I'd recommend The True Deceiver. Though I'll warn you, it's not the most comfortable of reads!
Over To You!
I've had a long hard think about who I'd want to represent Great Britain in the Euroliterature Competition. And I'm honestly not sure. We can't put Rowling through because we need to give the other countries a chance at winning. Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree was one of my favourite British reads this year, but I'm not sure I'd put her at top of the Brits. So who do you think should represent Britain in the European roundup? And which authors would you choose to represent other parts of Europe?
Let me know if the comments below or tweet me @Abbii_Patrick!!