I have inadvertently done the Europa Challenge.
This afternoon while I was reading blogs, I discovered the Europa Challenge blog.
Do you know what a Challenge is?
Here’s what you do. You sign up at the sponsor blog. Then you choose books to read from the challenge “syllabus.” And if you have a blog, you post your reviews, then post comments at the sponsor’s blog, then post links to your blog, and…
But I have always been amused, and if only the Japanese Literature challenge weren’t already over, I might have done it.
Guess what? If I read two Europa books this year, I have completed the lowest level of the Europa Challenge. And I have done it! I wrote about Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend and Jane Gardam’s Crusoe’s Daughter without knowing there was a Europa Challenge.
But, wait, I just read more carefully and learned, “You may participate solely on your own blog, or post to this one. If you would like to become a contributor to this blog, please email the moderator.”
So I have officially done it.
Europa is the publisher of Elena Ferrante and Jane Gardam, two writers I love. But whether I go on to a higher level will depend on what I feel like reading this year.
Many readers are utterly loyal to small publishers, like Europa, Virago (an imprint of Little Brown), Persephone, or NYRB. I have read some remarkable books published by these excellent publishers, but I have also read some stinkers. Did I ever tell you about the ghastly translation of Dino Buzzati’s Poem Strip (NYRB), a graphic novel about Orpheus and Eurydice? At least I’m hoping it was the translation. I love Ovid’s version of the myth (Metamorphoses) and Virgil’s version (Georgics), but Poem Strip went promptly to the charity sale.
By the way, the Europa Challenge is not sponsored by Europa, but by two booksellers.
Although I do love Europa, I am still baffled by “challenges.” No one is sponsoring a Random House challenge, though it published one of my favorite books, Graham Joyce’s The Silent Land. And how about Henry Holt and Company, the publisher of Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies? Open Road Media has published several of Barbara Pym’s books as e-books: should we add them to our challenges?
Perhaps there is a Graham Joyce challenge somewhere, a Hilary Mantel one, or a Barbara Pym challenge.
I think these “challenges” are sweet, but I do better with online book groups. There is more discussion.
Meanwhile, I am looking for interesting blogs to add to my blogroll, so please let me know your favorites.