Tuesday 1 June 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Books from Eastern Europe

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is a Freebie

Image Credit Maps-Russia.com

There are always subjects that are interesting and that I just love to follow. But there are also subjects that hardly ever come up, like books from certain countries or books in other languages. One of the most neglected areas in the blogging community is probably Eastern Europe. Except for a few top Russian authors, many are widely unknown, even the ones that were awarded a Nobel Prize (that's why I marked them specially). Therefore, I thought I'd dig up some of the good ones that aren't always in the top lists. Sometimes, there is more than one great book from a country, so I've listed a few more this week.

Kadaré, Ismail "The Fall of the Stone City" (aka Chronicle in Stone) (Albanian: Darka e Gabuar) - 1971

Alexijevich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Russian: Чернобыльская молитва/Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006 (Nobel Prize)

Filipović, Zlata "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo" (Bosnian: Zlatin dnevnik: otroštvo v obleganem Sarajevu) - 1993
Kulin, Ayşe "Rose of Sarajevo" (Turkish: Sevdalinka) - 1999
Stanišić, Saša "How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone" (German: Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert) - 2006

Štimec, Spomenka "Croatian War Nocturnal" (Kroata Milita Noktlibro) - 1993

Kross, Jaan "Professor Martens' Departure" (Estonian: Professor Martensi ärasõit) - 1984

Gárdonyi, Géza "Slave of the Huns" aka "The Invisible Man" (Hungarian: A láthatatlan ember) - 1901
Kertész, Imre "Fateless" or "Fatelessness" (Hungarian: Sorstalanság) - 1975 (Nobel Prize)
Wiesel, Elie (Eliezer Vizl) "Night" (French: La Nuit/Yiddish: Un di Velt Hot Geshvign) - 1958 (Nobel Prize)

Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times" (Polish: Prawiek i inne czasy) - 1996 (Nobel Prize)

Eliade, Mircea "Marriage in Heaven" (Romanian: Nuntă în cer) - 1938
Müller, Herta "The Appointment" (German: Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet) - 1997 (Nobel Prize)
Müller, Herta "The King Bows and Kills" (German: Der König verneigt sich und tötet) - 2003 (Nobel Prize)

I left out the most famous ones like Dostoewsky, Gogol, Gorky, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy.

Chukovskaya, Lydia "Going Under" (Russian: Спуск под воду/Spusk pod vodu)
Rand, Ayn "We the Living" - 1936
Rasputin, Valentin "Farewell to Matyora" (Russian: Прощание с Матёрой/Proschanie s Materoj) - 1976
- "To Live and Remember" (or: Live and Remember) (Russian: Живи и помни = Zhiwi e pomni) - 1974
Tsypkin, Leonid Borissowitsch (Леонид Борисович Цыпкин) "Summer in Baden-Baden" (Russian: Ljubit Dostojewskowo - лджубит достоджэвсково) - 1981
Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Imago" or "The Big Green Tent" (RUS: Зеленый шатер = Zelenyi shater)

Andrić, Ivo "The Bridge on the Drina" (Serbo-Croat: На Дрини Ћуприја or Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945 (Nobel Prize)

Lewycka, Marina "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" - 2005

I know there is always some controversy about where Eastern Europe ends. In my opinion, anything that lies behind Turkey and Russia is Asia but in a lot of lists you find them (and the Caucasus countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and also the Republics of Abkhazia, Artsakh and South Ossetia or the unrecognized state of Transnistria) as belonging to Europe. So, I have included a nice book about Azerbaijan, again written in another language, German, because the author lives there now.

Grjasnowa, Olga "All Russians Love Birch Trees" (German: Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt) - 2012

I'm still missing quite a few countries, so if you have any advice on good books from those countries, please let me know.

North Macedonia

As you can see, not all the books were written in the language of the respective country. That's partly due to the authors emigrating elsewhere.

After I chose this topic, one of the blogs I follow posted a guide for readers to Eastern Europe. There are some good books in this list.


  1. This is a brilliant use of freebie week, and I will be bookmarking this post for future reference. I was thinking of taking part in a readathon called Eurovisionathon but couldn't find enough European novels, so it's great to see someone shining a light on some lesser appreciated titles.

    1. Oh, thank you, Alyce. I see you are not the only one but even if it were just you, it was totally worth taking on this subject.

      As I am European and have lived in a few countries (all Western, though), I probably get to read more from this part of the world than many of my overseas friends, so feel free to check out my links or ask for a tip for a book from a certain area. I'm always happy to discuss these kind of books.

      Thanks for your visit.

  2. What a fabulous list. This will be bookmarked by many people, I think.

    I'm no expert, but here are a few possibilities. (Note: I've included children's books and nonfiction, as well as adult fiction. Also, I've included books that are simply set in the country.)

    Armenia: The Crossing Place by Phillip Marsden

    Bulgaria: Under the Yoke by Ivan Vazov; Dobry by Monica Shannon

    Czech Republic: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera; All About Doggie and Pussycat by Josef Capek; The Garden by Jifi Trnka

    Georgia: Stories I Stole by Wendell Steavenson

    Kazakhstan: The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

    Kosovo: Travels in Blood and Honey by Elizabeth Gowing

    Latvia: The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

    Lithuania: Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis

    Moldova: The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov

    Montenegro: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West

    North Macedonia: The Village Beyond the Seven Ash Trees by Slavko Janevski

    Slovakia: Village Tales by Bozena Slancikova; Simple National Slovak Tales by Pavol Dobsinsky

    Slovenia: Alamut by Vladimir Bartol

    1. Thanks, Deb. I'm glad you like my list and think it will be welcomed by others.

      Thanks also for the recommendations. Some of them seem very interesting. "The Silk Roads" is on my TBR pile. I hope to get there soon.

      Always lovely to talk to you.

  3. Let's see if this comment can go through.

    You're absolutely right. I can't remember the last time I read a blog post on books from this part of the world. This is such a good list.

    1. I don't know what it is with our blog sites, Lydia, they don't seem to like each other. But it's good that none of us is giving up. LOL

      I'm glad I got quite some approval with the post, it looks like people are interested in this part of the world but there isn't much promotion. For me, I think it's important to read about the Easter part of my continent, it has influenced the politics during my life a lot.

      So, thanks for coming by, persisting and commenting. Will see you on your page.

  4. This is such a unique idea, and just what the doctor ordered. I like how you've mapped them as per country too. We the Living is an old favorite, I just love that book.

    1. Thank you, Lex. Yes, I thought it would be better to list them by country, if you look for a book from a certain one, you can see it right away.

      I also had to look for a while until I found a good map that I could use. But I managed in the end.

      I had never read anything by Ayn Rand before, probably because her name doesn't sound very Russian (as it's not her real name). Have you read any other books by her?

      In any case, thanks for stepping by.

  5. Ah, I love your topic this week! Great that you're giving an overlooked part of the world a bit of love this week.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome, Aymee. And thanks for leaving your link while visiting. I'll step over there soon.

      I have always been interested in the Eastern part of our continent, probably because for my whole youth, there was not way of going there. And there has been so much going on after the fall of the Berlin Wall and hence the Iron Curtain. I hope you will find some good literature from there.

  6. Sweet list! I'm bookmarking it so I can put it to good use!

    1. Thanks, Maphead. Means a lot, you have such great lists yourself.

      Thanks for your visit.

  7. Nice topic for TTT. I enjoyed reading it!

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I'm glad you liked it. And thanks for visiting.

  8. I want to read more books set in Eastern Europe, absolutely. Thank you for this list!!!

    1. I'm happy about that, Greg. It's such a great area for interesting stories. Enjoy.

      Thanks for stepping by.

  9. I love how you're always bringing books to my attention that I've never heard of. Admittedly, I don't move outside my reading comfort zones very often, so I've never read any of these books. I definitely need to expand my horizons!

    Happy TTT!

    1. You're welcome, Susan. I often hear that I read books different from others, probably because of my international background. But I hope there is at least one here on my list for every reader.

      As always, thanks for your lovely comment.

  10. I've read a few books set in Poland and Russia. I need to branch out more into this area. Great topic!

    1. There is so much history in those countries in Eastern Europe, even the smaller ones who were always overrun by their big neighbours (including my own, unfortunately, I must confess). It's important that this is not forgotten.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

  11. This is a great list! Thank you for compiling and posting it. I host a European Reading Challenge every year, and the most "challenging" part is finding books from Eastern Europe. Your list is a good resource!

    1. Oooooh, I'm glad I can contribute, Gilion. You might have noticed that several others have also put up links to their Eastern European books, I'm sure you'll find some more there, as well. And you can always check my labels, I always add the country to any book I review.

      In any case, I'll have a look at your European Reading Challenge, I'm sure it's highly interesting.

      Thanks for yoru visit.

  12. This is such a great and informative list! Great pick for a freebie. I don't even think I've read any of these.

    1. Thank you, Leslie, I'm always happy if someone picks up just one of the books I love. Maybe there is something for you there. In any case, thanks for visiting.

  13. Loved that you grouped them by country. What a good idea! :)

    1. Thank you, Lark. I've always been obsessed with lists and I love the alphabet. I first thought to list them by where they are in Eastern Europe but then I decided it's easier to find this way.

      Thanks for coming to my blog. I enjoyed your post, as well.

  14. I missed this post! Splendid list. I love reading books from this part of the world, probably because there are a lot of espionage titles! I just finished one set in Hungary - Trial by Terror by Paul Gallico, set in the Cold War era.

    1. That might be part of the reason. But, of course, there is more about Eastern Europe than politics, so I enjoy reading about the people, as well. Still, you can't escape the Cold War part.

      Thanks for the recommendation. And the visit. Happy Reading.