My top 8 books for the 1954 Club

The 1954 Club

The #1954Club

For several years, Simon at Stuck in a Book, has been organizing club years, in which he encourages everybody to read books published in the same year.

This time, he chose 1954

I think the main idea is to draw a literary portrait of that year.
If you are curious, you can check which books were published during that year, on this Goodreads list or on this one (less complete, but you can compare with the books you have read), or on this wikipedia page.

Before focusing on The 1954 club, it seems I had read 7 books published that year:

  1. The Bridge over the River Kwai, by Pierre Boulle
  2. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  3. The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5), by C.S. Lewis
  4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  6. Bonjour Tristesse, by Françoise Sagan

And more recently, with a review:

The sound of wavesThe Sound of Wavesby Yukio Mishima

For the #1954club, I read the following:

Death Going Down


Death Going Down,
by María Angélica Bosco
Published in 1954
as La muerte baja en el ascensor
Translated from the Spanish
by Lucy Greaves
November 24, 2016 by Pushkin Vertigo
160 pages

As I currently try to focus on my TBR, I looked on my Goodreads TBR shelf, and there was only one book published in 1954.
It’s a mystery, a genre of classics I usually enjoy. And this book also qualifies for my Books in Translation Challenge.

I had never read anything by Argentinean author María Angélica Bosco (1917–2006).
She won the “Emecé Literary Prize” (Premio Emecé Argentina) in 1954 (the year of its creation) thanks to this novel.

First, I have to say I really enjoyed the title, even though we quickly realize its meaning. Still, I found it more attractive than the original in Spanish, which I found too explanatory: La muerte baja en el ascensor.

Though it is indeed what happens.
Pancho Soler comes home in Buenos Aires completely drunk one August night at 2am. He calls the elevator. He opens the door and finds a dead woman in it. Who is she? Who killed her? How? Why?

Definitely the type of discovery that might help you sober up quickly:

“He felt a desperate need to shout in protest. Why did this have to happen to him?”

I really liked the opening of the book a lot, with its neat descriptions of Soler and his discovery. Obviously, he is the first suspect. Did he do it?
The officers then focus on each person living in the apartment building. So it is a type of variation on the locked room mystery genre.
Each of these inhabitants could really be the guilty party, as they all have something to hide, in their past (many immigrants made their way to Argentina after WWII), their activity, or their relationships.

Bosco has  some interesting turns of phrases or images, such as this one about Superintendent Ericourt:

“He had nothing of the prowling predator, but all the fearsome patience of an elephant scanning the ground with its trunk for the piece of food it has dropped”.


“Lahore squirmed gently in his seat, like a cat that feels someone is tying a dog to its tail.”

I also liked the clever ending, which I realize I should have guessed much earlier on.

My year 1954 recap:
Beside María Angélica Bosco, I didn’t have time to read any other book for this event. Still, 1954 has an impressive list of biggies, world wide.



28 thoughts on “My top 8 books for the 1954 Club

  1. Pingback: #1954Club: post your reviews – Stuck in a Book

  2. I’ve read Lewis and Tolkien of course, and was made to read Golding in school though it was not a favorite. Great that you found a book in translation to add into the mix.


  3. 1954? Interesting. I read 1,3, 4, 5. Sagan is on my shelves. Might try her some day. Never been much a fan of that typical French lit.
    Just read “Le sacrilège Malais” by Pierre Boulle. I’d read it in Terminale. Found it sur les quais last summer. A fun account of French bureaucratic tendencies… Now very much a history book.
    Au revoir.


    • Interesting! In my generation (I was born in 66), we all had to read La Planète des singes !! En 6e ou 5e.
      En Terminale, le français était optionnel, vu que c’était l’année après le Bac de français, je me souviens de 2 thèmes : l’utopie. Et le personnage de Phèdre chez plusieurs écrivains.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Boulle au programme? C’est (c’était) bien…
        L’Utopie est un bon thème. Em prépa nous avons eu l’Illusion pdt 2 ans. Génial.
        Il faudra que je reprenne Phèdre, j’ai tout Racine, sur l´’étagère “À lire”.
        Tant de livres et si peu de temps…
        Bon week-end…


  4. I see I missed this year’s reading club too! Ah, well, I am trying not to keep guilt-tripping myself for not reading more (and longer) books. Still, it’s amazing to see LOTR was published in 1954 — it really is the grand old legend of fantasy fiction. And glad you enjoyed the Bosco book!


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