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Books set in other cultures

(57 Posts)
FairyPenguin Sun 12-Feb-17 15:19:57

I really enjoy reading books that are set in other cultures and ways of life, both current and historical. I love finding out about how other people live/lived.

For example, I have liked:

The Kite Runner
The Help
Memoirs of a Geisha
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Wild Swans
Plain Truth (Amish community)
Faye Kellerman books (Jewish family)
Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel
Nothing To Envy (North Korea true stories)

Also, I read a book set within a Quaker community which I was very interesting (I can't remember the title!).

Can anyone recommend other books that I might like, please? Thanks!

AristotlesTrousers Sun 12-Feb-17 18:13:38

I'll probably think of loads more, but off the top of my head:

The Colour Puple
The Joy Luck Club
Books by Victoria Hislop

Sadik Sun 12-Feb-17 18:20:35

Peter Hessler's books about living in China, especially the first one (River Town)
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev (Russia)

Sadik Sun 12-Feb-17 18:23:04

Also, a bit different but if you have young children then the Anna Hibiscus series by Atinuke are lovely to read aloud - short-ish chapter books all about a little girl living in an (un-named) African country.

Whattodo23 Sun 12-Feb-17 18:23:15

A thousand splendid suns

BarchesterFlowers Sun 12-Feb-17 18:27:04

Two Wings of a Nightingale.

Glass Palace.

Lots more if I could be bothered to get up and go and look grin, I have just bought Paul Scott's Raj Quartet but it hasn't arrived yet.

BarchesterFlowers Sun 12-Feb-17 18:29:46

Oh forgot Orhan Pamuk's books which I loved enough to read more than once.

tormentil Sun 12-Feb-17 18:31:15

The House by the Dvina - Eugenie Fraser

BoboChic Sun 12-Feb-17 18:32:34

Olivia Manning's Balkan and Levant Trilogies.

CoteDAzur Sun 12-Feb-17 18:41:38

The Skull Mantra and its sequels by Eliot Pattison (contemporary Tibet under Chinese occupation)

The Janissary Tree and its sequels by Jason Goodwin (Istanbul in Ottoman Empire times)

Dissolution and its sequels by C J Sansom (Tudor era England)

tormentil Sun 12-Feb-17 18:42:25

Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I know why the cages bird sings - Maya Angelou
The Devil that Danced on the Water - Aminatta Forna

Tartle Sun 12-Feb-17 18:43:54

A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth. Set in post independence India.

tormentil Sun 12-Feb-17 18:52:45

Guernica - Davi Boling
Winter in Madrid - CJ Sansom

Sadik Sun 12-Feb-17 19:06:18

tormentil reminds me of
South from Granada - Gerald Brenan (Southern Spain in the 1920s/early 30s leading up to the Civil War)

crapfatbanana Sun 12-Feb-17 19:20:57


God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (nonfiction)
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (nonfiction)
There's loads of Indian lit out there basically.


A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
The Vagrants, both by Yi Yun Li


The Vegetarian by Han Kang


Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Signs Preceding The End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Congo? (Possibly a different Central African nation):

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver


All of Chinimanda Ngozi Adichie's books.

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (part U.K setting)


The Dead Lake
The Railway by Hamid Ismailov


City of God by Paolo Lina


The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng


Blindness by Jose Saramago


Anything by Tove Jansson

Afghanistan and Pakistan (also U.K.):

Anything by Nadeem Aslam
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid


The Leopard by Tomasi Giuseppe de Lampedusa


Anything by Orhan Pamuk
Anything by Elif Shafak


The Map of Love by Ahmad Souief


Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare


Books by Elizabeth Laird. She writes for children by doesn't patronise and explores different cultures.

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

mmack Sun 12-Feb-17 19:58:25

Japan: The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. It reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice and the level of detail about life in Japan before WWII is amazing. Don't be put of by the length of it-it is very easy to read and totally gripping.
China: I am currently reading and enjoying Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. It's set in 1970s China during the cultural revolution.

FairyPenguin Sun 12-Feb-17 20:37:45

Thank you for all the recommendations. I'm making a very long list of books to look at. I forgot about Winter In Madrid - that was another favourite. I loved The Color Purple when I read it about 20 years ago, so I'm going to re-read that one.

I'm going to Mexico this year so I might read those suggestions from crapfatbanana before I go.

AuldHeathen Sun 12-Feb-17 21:21:06

Years ago I met Eugene Fraser. He was in an evening class I attended. Just saying ....

OP, Maybe some Scottish writers. Assuming you aren't a Scot. There are loads, just can't think of titles. Buddha Da, set in Glasgow. Author is Anne somebody. Another is based on An English classic writer ?Jane Austen. Sorry, hopeless tonight. Set in modern time, in Glasgow, 2 senior schoolchildren, one from a Scottish Sikh family. It was very good.

tobee Sun 12-Feb-17 21:54:43

Off the top of my head I really enjoyed Midnight in Peking when I listened to the audiobook. True story about a murder in Peking in 1937. An era in that country I knew very little of.

PopGoesTheWeaz Sun 12-Feb-17 23:03:34

Such a great list. Everything that sprung to mind immediately has already be stated so just shameless marking my place instead.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Mon 13-Feb-17 10:07:50

Lisa See is a great Chinese American author, as is Amy Tan. I've enjoyed most of theirs.

If you like grand historical dramas than Shogun? Can't remember the author but it's very well known!

Yes to all the others, particularly anything by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Wonderful.

TartYvette Mon 13-Feb-17 10:13:55

"The Secretary River" by Kate Thornhill. First of a trilogy set in Australia during its days a a penalty colony.

TartYvette Mon 13-Feb-17 10:26:02

The secret river, not secretary!!!!

TartYvette Mon 13-Feb-17 10:26:51

And PENAL not penalty!

redexpat Mon 13-Feb-17 10:31:52

The visit of the royal physician is a hisrorical novel set in Denmark.

Ditto Music and Silence which has really lovely story telling.

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