Top 10 books around the world
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?
34 thoughts on “Top 10 books around the world”
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: http://www.thejinnandthesword.com/). 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
I dont think I’ve had much success with Turkey yet – I tried an Opham Putnik but couldnt get into it at all
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.
I’d like to find some more by him too – I think there is a trilogy…
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.
I’m really a beginner for Japanese lit but I have indeed read a few for Japan reading week. Often they are enigmatic
Great list! I have read three of them. I am currently looking for novels written in Syria or by a Syrian author. Any suggestions?
Oh now that is a challenge. The closest I can get in geographic terms is The Book of Gazza which is a set of short stories from that embattled part of the world. https://bookertalk.com/2014/07/17/the-book-of-gaza/
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.
I started off well with my quest to read broadly and then, like you, got sidetracked because of review copies. This year I have deliberately not looked at Netgalley and have accepted only one request for review. That makes me sound very ungracious which I don’t mean to be – I do appreciate getting advance copies of new fiction. But I also know I have to be restrained!
I understand completely. I don’t look at Netgalley at all, but I have accepted probably around 6review books this yeR so far and am still reading those I received in December.
My current book is one I requested for a Christmas present about 5 years ago. I can’t imagine why – its not my normal kind of book at all
haha … there must have been a reason at the time Karen.
I must have been influenced by some bloggers….
Wow, what a list. You’ve managed to mushroom my tbr wish list with a couple of brief sentences!
It makes a change that I add to other people’s lists! usually I am the one frantically scribbling down all the books I see on other people’s blog posts and want to read
Delighted to be able to add to your TBR Sarah!
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
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
Lots of these are going on my to read list. I LOVED We need new names. If interested, here is my review: https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/review-we-need-new-names-by-noviolet-bulawayo/
Enjoyed reading your review of this – it must have been a fascinating experience to be in Zimbabwe…..
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.
You have some delights in store just from the ones you already have
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
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.
I have Hanne Ørstavik’s Love to read too
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 🙂
Thank you! A few titles to add to me Around the World in 80 Books reading challenge.
Glad to be of help 🙂