I'm not the first person to set out to read a novel for every country. Or, to be more precise, a novel set in every country - a practical and logistical concession I was forced to make. The idea came to me independently, but I was sure that I would find it a well-trodden path.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by how relatively few my fellows were. The Reading Around the World challenge on Goodreads is thriving, and there are a number of blogs in varying degrees of progress. Some accept non-fiction, and some are less rigid about reading one book for each country. It is, after all, a somewhat pedantic goal. It is from all of these, and other sources, that I have compiled my list - and I'm still very much open to suggestions for its improvement.
After some thought, I've settled on these three principles for the undertaking:
- I will read a book set within the modern geographical boundaries of each and every UN recognised nation, in addition to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Palestine.
- The book must be fiction, preferably in the form of an extended narrative.
- There will be no corner-cutting - two hundred different books, two hundred different authors (or more, in the case of collaborations or compilations).
I've chosen to call it the Rushlight List, a name inspired by Jim Flynn's Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 books (which, I'm perversely pleased to say, I've neither read nor consulted). If I chance across a better book from/about/set_in a country, I'll edit it in - a list like this can never be categorically finished. As I progress, I'll make a blog entry for each country and the book I read for it; what I learned, what I thought of the book, some background, and whether I felt like it was a good choice.
I don't consider myself particularly worldly, and I very much doubt that this project will change that. My principal aim isn't to learn about the world itself, but instead to learn about its literature.