Read the World Cup

Emily Aaronson, Acting Senior Librarian, Studio City Branch Library,
flags of the world cup

Two very exciting things are starting this June: the Summer Reading Challenge and the World Cup! Summer Reading started June 4, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia starts on June 14, with the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Why not let reading take you everywhere by checking out fiction from the countries playing in the World Cup?

In 2014, we did a Literary World Cup, and we paired off celebrated authors from the countries of teams playing in individual matches. This year, we’re presenting you a list of fiction from all of the countries right now! The first stage of the World Cup is the Group Stage, and teams were assigned to their groups in December 2017. The top two teams from each group will advance to the next knockout round. Our list below is organized by groups. This selection is by no means exhaustive; these chosen books are but a sampling of books available from the given countries.

Are you interested in finding more international fiction? Take a look at the Literature Resource Center, where you can find authors of specific nationalities. You can also use the advanced search in Novelist to get ideas. We don’t only have books, though: if you want to read a newspaper from around the world, check out PressReader and Proquest Newsstand International. For foreign films, see Kanopy and Digitalia Film. Of course, if you need help, you can always stop by a library and ask a librarian for advice!

We hope you enjoy this jumping-off point for literature from 2018 World Cup Countries. May the best team win, and may this list help us all finish our 2018 Summer Reading Challenge!

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Group A begins play on June 14 and 15 and includes Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay. Both Russia and Uruguay played in 2014, but this is Egypt’s first World Cup since 1990 and Saudi Arabia’s since 2006.


Saudi Arabia



Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

In Group B, Portugal, Spain, and Iran all played in the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil. Morocco is playing for the first time since 1998. Group B starts play June 15.


Both Ines Pedrosa and Pedro Chagas Freitas have books in the catalog available in Portuguese; look out for English translations later in 2018.




In addition to these authors, there are a wealth of Iranian-American authors writing today, including Dalia Sofer, Porochista Khakpour, Jasmin Darznik, Abdi Nazemian, Sara Saedi, and Alexandra Monir.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Peru is returning to the World Cup for the first time since 1982. Of the other teams, both France and Australia played in 2014, and Denmark returns after a one-tournament absence. Group C starts play June 16.




Other Peruvian authors include Renato Cisneros and Peruvian-American authors Daniel Alarcon and Isaac Goldemberg.


Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Group D is a special group, as Iceland is one of the two teams in the tournament playing for the first time in history. Argentina, Croatia, and Nigeria all played in 2014. Group D begins play on June 16.





This year has also been a huge year for Nigerian-American authors, so we also wanted to mention Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Uzodinma Iweala.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

In Group E, all of the teams played in 2014 except Serbia, who last played in 2010. They begin play June 17.



Costa Rica


Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group F starts play on June 17 and 18, and all but Sweden played in 2014. Sweden last played in 2006.




South Korea

In addition to these authors, Korean-American author Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko came out in 2017, and watch for Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me in August.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group G also includes a team that has never played in the World Cup before: Panama. They will be joined by veterans Belgium, Tunisia, and England, although Tunisia has not played since 2006. They start on June 18.





Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Of Group H, Colombia and Japan played in 2014, and Senegal last played in 2002. Poland last played in 2006. They start their World Cup on June 19.


In addition to these, the book Flights by Olga Tokarczuk just won the Man Booker International Prize, and the English translation will be out in August.