A Novel for Every Remaining World Cup Team

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If you are like me, watching the World Cup has got you wanting to read more world literature. Here’s a novel for each remaining World Cup team.

Brazil's flah
The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

Brazil say they play the beautiful game, and Lispector certainly writes gorgeous sentences. The Hour of the Star is a great short novel to introduce you to the marvel of Lispector.

flag of chile
Roberto Bolano chile

By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño

Chile have been one of the most exciting and passionate teams this World Cup. Bolaño may be the obvious pick, but few authors from any country write with as much excitement and passion.

Colombia flag
Chronicle Marquez

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez

Colombia has looked great this World Cup, but historically they have never made far in the tournament. This is only the second time they’ve reached the round of 16, and they’ve never gone further. Will that change this time? Not if my pick, an underrated short novel by the late great Márquez, is an omen.

Uruguay world cup
The Book of Embraces

The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano

Galeano’s books tend to be unclassifiable mixes of literature, poetry, history, and memory. However, his prose is always fierce and the Uruguay team could use some of that after their most famous player slash vampire was suspended for literally biting an opponent (for the third time!).

The Lover by Duras

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

This French team has a lot of talent to choose from, and French literature has a gigantic arsenal of amazing writers. Duras may not be as famous as Proust or Flaubert, but she is well worth your time.

Nigeria flag
Ben Okri

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

It is something of a surprise that Nigeria made it out of group, and Ben Okri, one of the world’s great magical realists, will definitely surprise you in this Man Booker Prize winning novel.


Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann

Germany’s team is so stocked with talented it seems they made a pact with the devil. So here’s Thomas Mann’s take on the infamous story of Faust and his deal with the devil.


Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin

A gritty, semi-autobiographical novel by an author who passed away at only 29.

Netherlands flag
Max Havelaar

Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli

Famous soccer players often go by one name, so here’s a classic Dutch novel by Multatuli (pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker).

Carlos Fuentes

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

A classic from the Latin American Boom for a team that’s looking to make noise this Cup.

Costa Rican flag
Yolanda book

La Ruta de su Evasión by Yolanda Oreamuno

Sadly not available in English, Spanish speakers can check out this classic of Costa Rican literature.


Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou

Greek literature stretches back to the dawn of Western civilization, but this Greek team is thinking about the future after advancing out of group. So here’s a recent novel published in English just this year.

Argentina flag

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

Cortázar is every bit the magician with words that Messi is with a soccer ball. Essential reading.


Jakob Von Gunten by Robert Walser

If you haven’t read Walser before, you are in for a treat. A contemporary of Kafka, Walser is almost as weird but in a completely different way.


The Misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

While the Red Devils certainly aren’t misfortunate with their exciting young team, The Misforunates is a great recent novel from Belgium that was made into a movie in 2009.

Wise Blood

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

The Americans play a bloody, ugly, yet somehow effective game, so how about pairing them with the master of Southern Gothic, Flannery O’Connor?

Now get reading before Brazil-Chile starts!

Cover photo by Julien

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