Top Ten Tuesday: Books for World Lit Lovers to Read

Check out Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish.


Books by authors born outside the US, UK, and Canada:

Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—Enugu, Nigeria. You’re more likely to see Americanah or Half of a Yellow Sun on a book list, usually, and I could easily have put one of them here as well. I have read, loved, and frequently recommended every one of Adichie’s books, but Purple Hibiscus was the most personally affecting to me.

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga—Madras, India (now called Chennai). A difficult protagonist, complicated questions about social issues and structure . . . and also a murder.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz—born in the Dominican Republic, raised in New Jersey. Be prepared to look up some Spanish phrases and gaming references if necessary.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera—Brno, Czech Republic. For me, the story and the historical setting of the Prague Spring are really secondary to the philosophical musing that permeates the text. I just love the way this book thinks.

The Lake, by Banana Yoshimoto—Tokyo, Japan. I always have Haruki Murakami on my lists, and I have to remind myself to include the other fantastic Japanese writers I’ve just started getting to know. Yoshimoto’s books are all short so far, and they pack a surprising amount of good story and lovely writing into such a small space.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini—Kabul, Afghanistan. I’ve still been meaning to read The Kite Runner all this time, but A Thousand Splendid Suns is that same beautifully expressive writing telling a woman’s story.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery—a French author born in Casablanca, Morocco. This is one of those stories about unlikely friends and people who are much more than they pretend to be, and one that I’ve been meaning to reread almost since I first finished it.

Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta—Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The first book I’ve ever read about the experience of gay Nigerians in the late 60s and 70s. It isn’t pretty, but the book is lovely.

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent—Adelaide, Australia. The book takes place in Iceland in the 1800s, based on a true story. It’s one of the best, most atmospheric books I’ve read in a long time, and I can pretty much always find a reason to put it on a list.

Aya, by Marguerite Abouet—Abidjan, Ivory Coast. A graphic novel that shows actual African life, not just war and famine.

Tall Story, by Candy Gourley—Davao City, Philippines. This is a middle grade novel that I haven’t read in a while, but I was fascinated by the setting and the theme of gigantism.

The Diving Pool, by Yoko Ogawa—Okayama, Japan. There’s been a lot of talk about The Housekeeper and the Professor, and I enjoyed that one too, but found these three novellas even more compelling and beautiful.

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi—Rasht, Iran. I don’t need to tell you about Persepolis! If you haven’t read it yet, it’s about time you do.


8 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books for World Lit Lovers to Read

  1. Oh my God, you liked The White Tiger? I can’t say I’d agree. And I’m from India so trust me when I say that while some crazy outrageous things do take place in our country, that book has made our lives seem less than what they are. While I was reading it, I felt like the heart was missing in that book. And I could never figure out the protagonist or his motivations.

    Purple Hibiscus is a good addition though. Adichie is a genius


    1. I’m with you on Adichie! I did like The White Tiger, not because I thought it was a totally accurate description of life in India—I’m sure it’s not—but because it raised a lot of interesting questions in a complicated way. The protagonist is hard to figure out, and that’s what makes him so thought-provoking to me. I’ve never read anything else by Adiga, so I don’t know what his style is, but I thought of this book as somewhat satirical, with characters that were sort of caricatures rather than fully-developed real people.


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