Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Biblio File

Summer Reading: A Literary World Cup


Are you following the World Cup? Has that intense international feeling inspired you to look for some reading from around the globe? Here’s a summer reading challenge for you: why not read a book by an author from each of the nations facing off in the semifinals this week? Or from every country that played in the quarterfinals? Or even from every country that made it to the Round of 16?  We’ve been inspired by the Los Angeles Public Library’s brilliant virtual #Literary World Cup to create our own Literary World Cup book display featuring authors from these competing countries. We hope you'll discover some new writers to enjoy!

If you were hoping for a list of books about soccer rather than world literature, try these recommendations from from, The New York Times, and The Guardian (where the beautiful game is, of course,  called football.)  And the NYPL’s Children’s Center has compiled a fun “Soccer Crazy” list for kids.


Here are our literary lineups:


On Tuesday, July 8, Brazil meets Germany:

Jorge Amado                                 Clarice Lispector

Paulo Coelho                                Machado de Assis

Rubem Fonseca



Heinrich Böll                                  Erich Kästner

Hans Fallada                                   Daniel Kehlman

Cornelia Funke                              Thomas Mann

E. T. A. Hoffmann                          Herta Müller


On Wednesday, July 9,  Argentina meets the Netherlands:

Adolfo Bioy Casares                  Manuel Puig

Jorge Luis Borges                        Ana Marìa Shua

Julio Cortázar                              Luisa Valenzuela



Erasmus                                       Arthur Japin

Michel Faber                             Tim Krabbé

Arnon Grunberg                      Harry Mulisch    

Hella Haasse                               



These countries may have been defeated in the quarterfinals, but these authors are still worth reading!


Louis Paul Boon                         


Amélie Nothomb

Georges Simenon



Héctor Abad Faciolince

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Laura Restrepo

Juan Gabriel Vasquez


Costa Rica

The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

When New Flowers Bloomed: Short Stories by Women Writers From Costa Rica and Panama

Cuentos costarricenses                      Poesia contemporanea de Costa Rica

Little Costa Rican literature has been translated into English, but these anthologies  offer an overview.



Muriel Barbery                               Jonathan Littell

Albert Camus                                  Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Alexandre Dumas                          Françoise Sagan

Marguerite Duras                         Émile Zola


And if you'd like to explore the literature of more World Cup countries, here's the rest of the Round of 16:


Rachid Boudjedra                     Yasmina Khadra

Hélène Cixous                            Leïla Sebbar

Mohammed Dib




Isabel Allende                            Pablo Neruda

Roberto Bolaño                        Alejandro Zambra   

Ariel Dorfman




Constantine Cavafy               Menis Koumantareas

Odysseas Elytes                       Giannes Ritsos

Ianna Karystian                       George Seferis

Nikos Kazantzakis                  Ersi Sotiropoulos



Laura Esquivel                         Juan Rulfo

Carlos Fuentes                        Luis Alberto Urrea

Octavio Paz




Chinua Achebe                                         Helon Habila

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie                Wole Soyinka

Buchi Emecheta




Bernard Comment                             Zoë Jenny

Friedrich Dürrenmatt                      Jürg Laederach 

Max Frisch                                            Gerhard Meier

Elisabeth Horem



Delmira Agustini

Mario Benedetti

Eduardo Galeano

Carmen Posadas


These lists are not meant to be exhaustive or definitive in any way. We simply wanted to offer a few reading ideas.  A list of major French or German writers available in English translation, for example, would be beyond the scope of our modest display.  You can find some additional suggestions on the New York Writers Coalition's World Cup Writers Reading List, which includes an author from each country that competed in 2014.  The authors on their list "are either activists or write stories featuring those who are marginalized in their own society." Please share your own international reading  recommendations in the comments section below. The world certainly offers many more wonderful authors to explore!


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

I'd add Paulo Scott for

I'd add Paulo Scott for Brazil, Iosi Havilio and Carlos Gamerro for Argentina, and Clemens Meyer for Germany - all great contemporary authors published by And Other Stories

contemporary authors

Thank you for suggesting more contemporary authors in translation! Enjoy the rest of the World Cup and your summer reading.

Love the countries' authors, not just the soccer players!

Thanks for bringing us this great idea for reading more books in translation. We in the U.S. do this far less than those in most other countries in the world and posts like this will help us expand our reading horizons. I just joined the adult summer reading club and am eager for all suggestions!

Summer Reading

Thank you for the comment, Brigid! Great to hear that you've signed up for summer reading. What authors or books have you put on your TBR list?

Dutch writers

Your program 'summer reading' is very original and interesting! Arnon Grunberg however is registrated as a writer from Belgium but he definitely is Dutch!

Arnon Grunberg is indeed Dutch!

Thank you very much for for your comments and for alerting us to this error. The lists have been corrected.

interesting Nigerian authors

I am reading Nigerian writers Nnedi Okorafor and Noo Saro-Wiwa. Both wonderful and very different, their works are well worth searching out and reading.

Nigerian authors

Thank you for suggesting these authors! Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor was a staff pick on our Twitter feed last month:

I recommend "The Overcoat" by

I recommend "The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol. Ukranian-born Russian author. Short stories are perfect for the beach :)

Russian lit

Great suggestion! Thank you for expanding the international summer reading list beyond the World Cup. So many countries, so many books...

Some great Italian and Spanish authors in translation

I've recently read some great authors in translation. One is Maria Duenas' book titled The Time In Between. We have been recommending it at the Morris Park Library, and everyone has raved about it. Another author is the Italian author, Elena Ferrante who wrote My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name which are part of a trilogy and The Days of Abandonment among others. In addition, Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian writer has come to our attention. His many thrillers include The Son, and the Harry Hole detective series.

Welcome Spain, Italy, Norway to the list!

Thank you for recommending these authors in translation, Joanne, and for moving us beyond the World Cup borders! Happy summer reading!

Post new comment