Following my practice last year, I have listed my “novel” reading for 2016. This is a way of documenting what I get through in a year’s worth of reading on the commute to work, in the evenings after work, and while travelling on those airplane journeys from/to Sydney outside of my “normal” academic reading.
My use of the term “novel” reading is loosely adopted, as you will see from the list. The year started with a recommendation from Chris Hesketh to read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas but following much banter with the recommender this was not a book that I enjoyed at all! However, his encouragement long ago to re-read John Reed paid rich intellectual dividends and closed the year for me. Given that 2017 is, of course, the centennial of the Russian Revolution, there was no better way to close the year than read Ten Days That Shook the World preceded by Karl Schlögel’s magnum opus on the Stalinist consequences. The books listed below are in the order that they have been read.
My year’s “novel” reading actually only included a total of 10 novels as my time was preoccupied with reading on the drugs war and some other themes besides. However, J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians was a real highlight, read in Hobart in February. Deeply spatial and geographical in its metaphors, this book tracks issues of space and time, frontiers, borders, zones, regions, the rural and the urban, the relations between capital city and countryside, in order to mark the geographical landscape and relations of Empire.
Waiting for the Barbarians was a favourite of Alex Danchev, former colleague at the University of Nottingham, and among the many greats that was taken too early in 2016. He was one of them and he is very much missed.
What will 2017 have in store form my “novel” reading? There was no new Cormac McCarthy novel in 2016, so hopefully that will appear. There is more re-reading of both Cormac McCarthy and Victor Serge planned for two research projects but beyond that, as ever, my list is very much compiled by the way the mood takes me. We shall see…
- David Mitchell, Could Atlas (Hodder and Stoughton, 2004).
- Roberto Saviano, Zero Zero Zero , trans. Virginia Jewiss (Allen Lane, 2015).
- J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians  (Vintage Books, 2004).
- Nick Schou, Kill the Messenger (Nation Books, 2006).
- Anabel Hernández, Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers [Los señores del narco, 2010], trans. Iain Bruce, Foreword Roberto Saviano (Verso, 2013).
- Mariano Azuela, The Underdogs [Los de abajo, 1915], trans. Sergio Waisman, Foreword Carlos Fuentes (Penguin, 2008) (repeat read).
- J.G. Ballard, High-Rise  (Fourth Estate, 2014).
- Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016).
- S.A. Smith, The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002).
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick  (Harper Press, 2010) (repeat read).
- Ioan Grillo, El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels (Bloomsbury, 2012).
- Ioan Grillo, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America (Bloomsbury, 2016).
- Yuri Herrera, Signs Preceding the End of the World [Señales que precederán al fin del mundo, 2009], trans. Lisa Dillman (And Other Stories, 2015).
- Patrick Holland, One (Transit Lounge, 2016).
- Patrick Holland, The Mary Smokes Boys (Transit Lounge, 2010).
- Yuri Herrera, The Transmigration of Bodies [La transmigración de los cuerpos, 2013], trans. Lisa Dillman (And Other Stories, 2016).
- Cal Flyn, Thicker Than Water: History, Secrets and Guilt: A Memoir (Harper Collins, 2016).
- Óscar Martínez, A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America (Verso, 2015).
- Candace Savage, A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape (Greystone Books, 2012).
- Élmer Mendoza, Silver Bullets [Balas de Plata, 2008], trans. Mark Fried (MacLehose Press, 2015).
- Carmen Boullosa and Mike Wallace, A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the “Mexican Drug War” (OR Books, 2016).
- Óscar Martínez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging the Narcos on the Migrant Trail [Los migrantes que no importan], trans. Daniela Maria Ugaz and John Washington (Verso, 2014).
- Thomas Piketty, Chronicles: On Our Troubled Times, trans. Seth Ackerman (Viking Books, 2016).
- Thomas Piketty, The Economics of Inequality, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Harvard University Press, 2015).
- Paul Mason, PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (Penguin, 2015).
- Karl Schlögel, Moscow 1937, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Polity Press, 2012).
- John Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World  (Penguin, 1977 edition).