The OF Blog: World Cup of Fiction Preview: Group D

Saturday, June 07, 2014

World Cup of Fiction Preview: Group D

Click here for Group C preview.

Although Group D has two formidable national literary sides, it is a bit more clear-cut as to which are the two dominant literary nations.  Yet this does not mean there is a dearth of quality writers in any of these nations.  If anything, there is a greater chance for true literary upsets here than in most of the other 7 literary groups.

 Costa Rica 

Los Ticos may have the weakest literary side in Central America, much less the 32 team World Cup of Fiction.  It is extremely difficult to track down via American online stores any works by Costa Rican writers that are not out of print or are available in e-book format.  However, there are two women writers, Carmen Lyra and Ana Istarú, who intrigue me and who are both available in e-book format, that intrigue me, so perhaps they will manage to spring a few literary surprises during the World Cup of Fiction.


Do I have to talk about English literary output here?  Can I make tired, worn-out jokes about their accents, dress, and teeth instead?  No?  OK, the Three Lions may have an unfair literary advantage here, considering it is the lingua franca these days and a literary tradition that stretches back to the Venerable Bede and the anonymous writer of Beowulf to Chaucer to Shakespeare to the Spice Girls makes for a very intimidating literary side.  But as the English football side are known for choking on the largest stage of the sport purportedly founded there, the English literary side might engage in odd lapses that might stall their advance beyond the initial knockout stage.


The Azzurri are the one literary side in this group that may challenge England's presumed literary superiority.  Leaving aside the ancient Roman writers (if one wants to focus on Italia as a whole over the past 2800 years), the Italians can claim several great Renaissance writers, from Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio to Boiardo, Macchiavelli, Ariosto, and Tasso.  There have been several excellent 20th century writers as well, including Umberto Eco, Elsa Morante, Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino, Dino Buzzati, and several other excellent writers.  If the football side is known for its inexplicable luck and grinding defensive style, the Italian literary side may seem fresher, more experimental than what Anglophone readers may be accustomed to reading.  Should make for an exciting matchup when they face England.


La Celeste have traditionally been overshadowed by their Argentine and Brazilian neighbors, both in football and in literary output.  However, Uruguay has produced several excellent novelists, short fiction writers, and poets, including Horacio Quiroga, Mario Benedetti, and Juan Carlos Onetti.  While the Uruguayan side might not be as deep as the English or Italian sides, these three writers/poets can present matchup problems, so it is best not to discount them in a one-on-one literary match.

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