1945-90 period here; and a more substantial survey here. It’s always interesting to see what foreigners make of British literature and I found the analysis and set of notes of The Desperado Age – British literature at the start of the third millennium (2006) revealing – if a bit forced. The author is Lidia Vianu (2006) who was then Professor of English literature at Bucharest University.
Banffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy (originally written in the 1950s but only widely available from 2010); Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy (written in the 60s but receiving a new lease of life after the film); and Gregor von Rezzori’s brilliant three semi-autobiographical books drawn from his time in Romanian Czernowitz (now in southern Ukraine) – first written (in German) between the 50s and 70s but issued by NYRB only recently.
Rebecca West’s massive and stunning Black Lamb and Grey Falcon – a journey through Yugoslavia was first published in 1941 and is actually four books in one – about Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia – but received a huge boost from the 90s Yugoslav conflagration. It’s not, of course, a novel but, 75 years on, it is a gripping read - and still repays study.
I would stand by my 2010 list – with the embarrassing exception of Paul Coelho! And I also don’t know how Jason Godwin crept onto the list…. Otherwise the mix of South American “magic realism”; French romanticism and nihilism; Irish, Israeli and Egyptian realism; and Scottish whimsy stands up well……My tributes to the likes of John Berger and William MacIlvanney demand their addition – as do JM Coetze and Svetlana Alexievitch
ps this post - and some earlier this year - are in the tradition of blogs such as A CommonPlace Blog where older people try to identify the books and journals they have enjoyed and would recommend to others