March 4th, 2015

diplomacy

What is the best-known book set in Norway?

See note on methodology

I admit this one took me by surprise. I had read it, of course; published in 1991, a careful exploration of three millennia of philosophy for younger readers, it is very clearly set in Norway even if that doesn't add much to the story.  I had completely forgotten the setting, and you probably have as well. By a huge margin, the most widely owned book on both LT and GR that is set in Norway is:

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this wins only because I have had to brutally disqualify a book by a well-known British writer of Norwegian ancestry, in which our hero and his grandmother battle supernatural beings in Norway. I checked with my fifteen-year-old resident expert in this particular author's works, and he confirmed my suspicion that most of the action takes place in England, so despite its immense popularity, I can't allow it. It is:

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The book most frequently tagged "Norway" on LibraryThing is a 2003 novel, translated into English in 2005, about the Nazi occupation of Norway and its aftermath, winner of the 2007 Dublin IMPAC Award. It is:

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Goodreads is a bit more highbrow on this occasion. The book most frequently tagged "Norway" there is an 1890 novel about a young man wandering the streets of the Norwegian capital in a state of heightened awareness; it helped to win its author the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature. it is:

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Bubbling under, very much to my surprise: Hendrik Ibsen, Jo Nesbø. Both Collapse ) and Collapse ) came close but are definitely behind the first two mentioned.
khinkali

What is the best-known book set in Georgia?

Edited to add: See update

Gone With the Wind, of course.

Oh, hang on.

There is another, older Georgia.

See note on methodology

It took an awful lot of pruning of the lists to get down to books set in the real Georgia, the country that was known by that name many centuries before James Oglethorpe settled the Savannah river. Even then I'm afraid the results are not terribly satisfactory. The top-ranked book is non-fiction, about the most famous modern Georgian, and specifically covers his youth in Gori and Batumi until he made the big time in Russia. But I suspect that less than half of it covers its subject's Georgian years before he moved to Russia; I'd be grateful for enlightenment on this point. For what it's worth, it is:

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For similar geographical reasons, and witha heavy heart, I must exclude the Georgian national epic poem, a glorious work of chivalry by a 12th-century writer. Most of the action takes place in India and Arabia, and apart from the fact that it's written in Georgian there's not a lot to link the events directly to the country. (I believe that there is a theory that the author wrote it while on assignment in Jerusalem, and that would make a certain amount of sense.) I commend it to you anyway; it is:

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Alas, the same goes for a 1975 novel by the best-known Georgian writer of the twentieth century, mainly set in Brazil relatively popular on Goodreads, unknown on LibraryThing):

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The top book on Goodreads which is definitely set in Georgia is an uncomfortable account of a failed 1983 hijacking of an Aeroflot plane by seven young Georgians trying to defect to the West. The plane was stormed on the orders of Eduard Shevardnadze, then head of the Georgian Communist Party; three of the hijackers were killed in the attack and the other four were executed later. It is:

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Over on LibraryThing, I want to give a shout-out to one of my favourite cookbooks, which has a huge amount of incidental colour from Georgia but can't really be said to be set there:

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The top book on LT by ownership, as far as I can tell, which is actually set in Georgia is the first one I ever read about the country, the account of an American journalist who was there at the dubious peak of the Shevardnadze era:

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I am awarding today's prize to Steavenson, as her book has a decent enough presence on both LT and GR (Turashvili is good on GR but almost invisible on LT)