Top 10 books around the world

blog globe small 1

It’s been a long time since I joined in with the Top Ten Tuesday meme but this week’s topic gives me a chance to talk about a topic of particular interest to me.

I realised a few years ago that my reading was rather limited geographically so I made a conscious decision to look for novels written by authors outside of USA and Uk. Since starting my World of Literature project I’ve read books in 36 countries. Though the Top Ten Tuesday topic is strictly speaking about books that take place in another country, I’m taking a liberal approach and going for novels written by authors from 10 different parts of the world.


Belgium: Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb. This slim work from one of Belgium’s leading authors is set in Japan. It gives a fascinating glimpse into the difficulties of navigating the work culture in Japan.

Finland: White  Hunger by Aki Ollikainen. I never realised that Finland had suffered a horrendous famine in the 1860s. This is a grim account of a woman walking mile after mile through waist-high snow to prevent her children starving to death.

India: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. A Booker prize-winning novel that will make you laugh and make you think.

Japan: After the Banquet  by  Yukio Mishima. This was my first venture into Japanese literature. It was enigmatic at times but also a fascinating portrait of a marriage between two people whose interests and perspectives seem diametrically opposed.

Kenya: Petals of Blood by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. A savage indictment of the political and government regime in the country post independence.

Nigeria:  Americanah  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Two young people dream of leaving their country to find a new life in America. Only one of them makes it. But it’s not what she expects.

Norway: The Blue Room  by Hanne Ørstavik  A short psychological novel about a naive young girl and the troubling relationship she as with her mother.

Republic of the Congo:   Broken Glass by  Alain Mabanckou. A lively novel set in a seedy bar where a rag bag of odd characters hang out.

South Korea: The Vegetarian by Hang Kang. A disturbing novel about a troubled girl who decides to stop eating meat.

Zimbabwe: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. A country in the middle of a crisis. Aid workers turn up in their white vans and dish out sweets and toys, take a few photos and then disappear. Some people are lucky enough to leave. But is life elsewhere necessarily better?



About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on March 29, 2018, in Top Ten Tuesday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. I think that’s such a great goal! It’s always a good idea to gain a new perspective from different cultures and reading books that take place in different countries can help take the place of travel if you can’t afford it. I have a great historical fiction novel that takes place in Istanbul (if you want a new country for your list!). It’s called “The Jinn and the Sword” by authors Robert Peacock and Sara Cooke (if you wanna check out the website: I love it because it has a little bit of everything: romance, suspense, mystery, and adventure. Assassination attempts, robberies and demonic spirits all lead to a larger than life mystery that needs to be solved by master swordsman, Il Lupo and his crew. Would love to hear what you think! Thanks again for the list

  2. Oh The Vegetarian made you list! Nice! I’ve only read one book by Mishima, some short stories, but I really liked them and hope to read more of his work sometime.

  3. This post reminded me that you read a lot of Japanese lit and books set in Japan. I believe it was for a challenge? Currently, I’m reading a memoir by a Mexican woman. I don’t read a lot of Chicano lit, and that’s not intentional.

  4. Great list! I have read three of them. I am currently looking for novels written in Syria or by a Syrian author. Any suggestions?

  5. Great list Karen. I’m a bit bothered with myself because my reading was broader before I started blogging than since – and it’s because of review copies. I try to keep them under control, and I do like reading new Aussie authors but it has affected the diversity of my reading. Still, I have managed to read a fair variety since blogging. And my diversity within Australia – particularly indigenous authors has increased significantly.

  6. Wow, what a list. You’ve managed to mushroom my tbr wish list with a couple of brief sentences!

  7. I *love* Mishima and I read everything by him a decade or so ago. I do wish I could remember more about them…

    • They’re quite odd at times and I do find myself thinking that I am not quite understanding whats going on but overall I’ve enjoyed his work so far

  8. I look forward to checking out many of these! Thanks for sharing!

    • hope you find something you enjoy that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise Jessie. It’s one of the aspects I love about reading other peoples blogs

  9. Lots of these are going on my to read list. I LOVED We need new names. If interested, here is my review:

  10. This is a good list. Adichie, Roy and Kang are already on my TBR and you made the others sound so interesting that I just might have to check them out.

  11. Such a great feature, Karen. Very much enjoyed the Bulawayo, Adiche and Ollikainen and the Nothomb’s now on my list.

    • I must read something else by Nothomb. She’s quite a prolific writer I think and the fact she is Belgian but lived so long in Japan gives her a different perspective

  12. Great list, I have read The God of Small Things and Americanah. I have White Hunger tbr and recently read another book by Hanne Ørstavik and The Blue Room is definitely on my wish list.

  13. great selection. sad I didn’t have time to participate

    • There are just too many things to do and not enough hours in the day to do them. Even though I am now retired from work I still find I end the day with lots of things still not completed 🙂

  14. Thank you! A few titles to add to me Around the World in 80 Books reading challenge.

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: