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Fiction from around the world

(30 Posts)
christmaspresentaibu Mon 26-Feb-18 21:59:06

I'm off camping for a few weeks in the summer, so should hopefully have lots of reading time in the sunshine (we'll be outside the UK wink). It's be great to hear some of your book recommendations!

At the moment I'm adding to my 'international' list and I'd love to read some great fiction from outside Europe - looking mainly at Asia, Africa and South America but anywhere faraway and outside my everyday greyish, British world would be great (quite a broad brief, sorry!)! I've already added 'Monkey Bridge' by Lan Cao and 'The Sympathizer' by Viet Thanh Nguyen to my list because I'd love to know more about Vietnam.

Which books from farflung corners of the world do you really love? smile

OP’s posts: |
MercedesDeMonteChristo Mon 26-Feb-18 22:04:10

I really enjoyed Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace. Really exceptional writing based around India/Myanmar although I read it years ago - I have some of his others but just haven't had the right headspace I.e. A few weeks in the sun with little distraction.

I also adore Louis de Bernieres but he is British even if his books evoke other worlds and can be harrowing in parts. He is also I find, loved or hated.

christmaspresentaibu Mon 26-Feb-18 22:49:07

Thank you, Mercedes, that sounds a really interesting read!

I've read Captain Corelli's Mandolin, used to really love that book! I'll keep an eye out for more LdB smile

Also added Reading Lolita in Tehran, Americanah and Once Upon A Time in the East to my wishlist - it's a bit diaspora/emigration-orientated, I suppose, but an interesting window into other countries and cultures in any case?

OP’s posts: |
SatsukiKusakabe Mon 26-Feb-18 23:14:29

I really liked Reading Lolita in Tehran; yes very much a window into a different culture and experience.

I just read Pachinko which is about Korean immigrants in Japan over the war years and beyond. I didn’t wholeheartedly love it, but it was a really interesting read about the social historical side of things and I enjoyed it.

I love Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, set in post colonial Rhodesia in the 1960s, it is a really affecting coming of age novel with big themes.

Louis De Bernieres South American trilogy is great - he was very influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez so Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera if you haven’t read them.

A bit different, British author, but This Thing of Darkness is an excellent book about the voyage of Fitzroy and Darwin on the Beagle, if you want far flung adventure.

BookWitch Tue 27-Feb-18 03:33:47

I live in Asia and in my book club we like reading Asian fiction.

Our favourites over the last year or so:

The Rice Mother - based in Sri Lanka and Malaya, starting in the 1920s and takes you over several generations up to present day Kuala Lumpur.
A family saga type thing, well written. Covers WWII and the Japanese Occupation, Malaya's independence from Britain and the founding of present day malaysia.

The Ginger Tree - set around the turn of the 20th century, a scottish woman is sent to Peking to marry a british diplomat, her husband is away a lot and she finds the European socialites difficult to relate to. She ends up having an affair with a Japanese nobleman and gets pregnant. Her husband predictably throws her out and her lover sends her to Japan to have her baby. It's written in the form of letters to her mother and later her friend.

HuskyMcClusky Tue 27-Feb-18 03:42:44

Brilliant idea for a thread!

The only one I can think of off the top of my head right now is Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk. So incredibly evocative.

Will think more later (when not supposed to be working...)

HuskyMcClusky Tue 27-Feb-18 03:44:39

Oh oh, and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller (childhood memoir set in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe).

KickAssAngel Tue 27-Feb-18 03:52:54

Yaa Gyesi's Homegoing is v popular now. It's half set in Africa and half in the US. It's a fictional history through the centuries of a family where one sister stays in Africa, and one is taken to the US as a slave. I loved it.

It's not a very happy story, though.

GeorgeHerbert Tue 27-Feb-18 08:10:16

Isabelle Allende - South America? I loved The House of the Spirits

MealyPotatoes Tue 27-Feb-18 10:14:32

Yi Yun Li is a great Chinese writer. Her stuff is quite grim though. The Vagrants is a short novel that I enjoyed and I also liked a short story collection called A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.

Other things I read recently and enjoyed:

Augustown - Kei Miller (Jamaica)
The Book of Memory - Pettina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
The Dead Lake - Hamid Ismailov (Kazakhstan)
Signs Preceding The End of the World - Yuri Herrera (Mexico)

I also love Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Amitav Ghosh and Nadeem Aslam.

christmaspresentaibu Tue 27-Feb-18 11:55:07

So many brilliant recommendations, thank you!

BookWitch, whereabouts do you live in Asia, if you don't mind me asking? DP and I might be relocating to SEA next year but we're not sure where exactly yet!

Definitely going to put Isabel Allende on the list, I've been meaning to read her for years. I'm going to have a look at all the others too.

At the moment I'm reading a collection of short stories from English PEN and Pushkin Press - it's called 'Life from Elsewhere: Journeys Through World Literature'. Some of the stories are translations and lots cover the theme of migration or making a new life abroad. It's a really interesting read and not too taxing as each story is so short! Highly recommend it smile

OP’s posts: |
BookWitch Tue 27-Feb-18 15:09:11

whereabouts do you live in Asia, if you don't mind me asking?

I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

PilarTernera Tue 27-Feb-18 15:29:43

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw is set in Malaysia

Waking Lions by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was a MN book of the month last year. I loved it.

YY to Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

GhostsToMonsoon Tue 27-Feb-18 16:24:01

I enjoyed Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend series.

Amos Oz's novels too - his first one was published about 50 years ago, the latest a couple of years ago.

tripfiction Thu 01-Mar-18 16:18:06

These are just some of the books I have liked that are "far flung"

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner - Cambodia

Silver Travel Book Club is just reading "Do Not Become Alarmed" by Maile Maloy - Central America

Pachinko as suggested by @SatsukiKusakabe is great as is The Ginger Tree (one of my all time faves) as suggested by @bookwitch

After the Storm by Jane Lythell - Honduras

Apostle Lodge by Paul Mendelson - South Africa

Force of Nature by Jane Harper - Victoria, Australia

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb - California

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey - Bombay

Emily Barr is quite good for exploring exotic locations in fiction. Graham Greene for classic #literarywanderlust

Anyway, some there for you to think about....

KeithLeMonde Thu 01-Mar-18 16:34:19

Big yes to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is wonderful, but I also loved I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, another young Nigerian writer. Also We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, which is set in Zimbabwe and America.

You also can't go far wrong with Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez for south America.

Sadik Thu 01-Mar-18 20:08:03

Little bit different, but I really enjoyed the sci-fi novel TheThree Body Problem by the Chinese author Cixin Liu - it starts in 1950s China & goes from there.
(There are two sequels which are also a good read, although the translators are different, and I didn't like the style quite as much.)

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Thu 01-Mar-18 20:15:41

Wild Swans by Jung Chang is extraordinary.

Loved Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie.

Don’t forget Chinua Achebe.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a wonderful and harrowing collection of linked short stories about the Vietnam War.

ElleMcFearsome Fri 02-Mar-18 18:02:49

You want the Eurpoa imprints. 99% of them (I think) are translations and as a bonus the books are beautiful. I might have. shelf full of them... My Waterstones has a good selection. Linky here if you want to find out more about them

Mandelinka Sat 03-Mar-18 08:42:13

I love magical realism, my favourite authors are Isabel Allende - House of spirits, Eva Luna, Portrait in Sepia, The infinite plan, The Japanese Lover etc and of course Gabriel Garcia Marques.
I also really enjoyed The Bone Oroe by Keri Hulme, she is from New Zealand.

Mandelinka Sat 03-Mar-18 08:42:51

The bone people - Keri Hulme

Gwenhwyfar Fri 09-Mar-18 19:31:25

Anything by Murukami. Japanese fiction with bits of fantasy/magic realism.

CaptainNelson Sat 10-Mar-18 23:20:10

I agree about Murukami- I just read the Wind-up Bird Chronicles, and while the main thought I had the whole way through was, they're all so weird! what is going on? it also really stayed with me and I want to read it again.
Loads of great suggestions here. Can I add:
Jose Eduardo Agualusa - Angolan writer, not sure how much has been translated into English but the Book of Chameleons is his most famous and definitely is available on Amazon.
From Brazil, I would recommend Clarice Lispector, a short story writer who died in the 70s. But you have to like the slight weirdness of the short story form to get into her.
Also Chico Buarque's Spilt Milk was good - I didn't like My German Brother though. Jorge Amado is very much in the Isabel Allende/GGMarquez school, recommend Dona Flor & her 2 husbands if you like that style.

Failbydefault Sun 11-Mar-18 08:02:49

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

Mercurial123 Fri 16-Mar-18 17:06:34

Wizard of the Crow is outrageous, awful and funny at times. Perfectly describes dictatorship in some African countries.

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