World Cup of Fiction Preview: Group C

June 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Click here for the Group B preview.

Group C could be, at least in the eyes of some literary observers, a literary group of death.  There are three very strong national literary traditions in this group and choosing two to advance, much less a group favorite, may well prove to be very difficult.  Yet despite the strengths of each individual literary side, each differs significantly from the others in terms of national literary heroes and their styles of storytelling.

Colombia 

Ga-bo!  Ga-bo!  Ga-bo!  Even despite his death earlier this year, Los Cafeteros still possess a very potent attack.  Whether it is levitating priests or swarms of butterflies descending upon the pitch, or perhaps something grittier, more “real,” like the stories of Laura Restrepo or recent Premio Alfaguara winner Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the Colombians certainly possess world-class novelists from the past half-century with which to harry their foes into submission.  If things manage to fall the Cafeteros’ way, their opponents very well might be lamenting “en una hora mala.”

Côte d’Ivoire 

Les Elephants may not quite have the established written literary traditions of the others in Group C, but they certainly do have some rising stars, such as the novelist Ahmadou Kourouma, whose Allah is not Obliged has recently been translated into English, or Bernard Dadié, or even several other 20th and 21st century writers and poets.  An elephant never forgets and it may prove that Les Elephants will strike suddenly and move readers who may be jaded by some of the literary discourse from one of the other nations in the group.

Greece 

Greece has long had the exalted reputation of being the cradle of Western civilization.  Its ancient poets, philosophers, and playwrights have long captivated readers from divers cultures.  Homer.  Aristophanes.  Pindar.  Sappho.  The list could stretch for several pages and still leave out several quality writers.  But for the Piratiko, it won’t be as simple as sallying forth from the Pirate Ship and capturing victories.  The Greek literary side is very long in the tooth and not as many modern readers are as familiar with their works, even in translation.  But wily literary veterans can never be overlooked and the Greeks certainly will be formidable.

Japan 

The Blue Samurai certainly have a wealth of literary superstars spanning centuries, from the writer of The Tale of Genji to Haruki Murakami, Kobo Abe, Yoko Ogawa, and Banana Yoshimoto, the Japanese literary side certainly can strike from anywhere on the literary pitch.  Not committed to a singular literary style, the Blue Samurai pose a threat to any national literary side who opposes them on the literary pitch.  Along with Colombia and Greece, Japan is a tentative favorite to advance to the knockout stage,

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