Friday, January 09, 2009


Since I got just the help I was looking yesterday, I'm back now asking for more help. Yes, thanks to the blessing of fellow addicts, I signed up for the the 21 Cultures Reading Challenge. And I put together a tentative list using books already on my shelves (or in one case, already ordered from Paperback Swap). But I'm still a few books short, and I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with a few I have on my list.

So, here's where I ask for help. Any suggestions? They just need to be books, fiction or nonfiction, that give a feel of the culture of the country where they are set. Modern culture or traditional culture. And the more suggestions, the better! :)


Stephanie said...

One of the best books I've read in previous years was A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche. It's about Rwanda. There is some graphic sex and violence, but it's all in an average day in a country that was promoting genocide.

Stephanie said...

I forgot to say that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a beautiful book. Definitely one to keep on your list!

Chris said...

Oooh, Love in the Time of Cholera! Love that book. Also, Dream Homes would work really well I bet!

Debi said...

I've almost picked up that book a couple of times. I have to admit after reading We wish to inform you... I've been hesitant to read anything else about Rwanda, fiction or non-fiction. I think that book is probably the most powerful book I've ever read. But I'm really glad to hear you liked it...think I might just have to go for it. Thanks!

Oh man, Love in the Time of Cholera is one of those books that I've avoided like, well, cholera! It's one of those books that I worry I'm not smart enough to understand.

And you know I really wanted to use Dream Homes, I just couldn't figure out what to put in the old parentheses in identifying the culture. Thoughts? Egyptian Jewish culture?

Sandra said...

My main fiction reading is novels set in or written by someone from cultures different than mine. My favourites for 2008 list has several you might like. I have include the countries or culture in which the story takes place. I hope you find something you like.

Through Black Spruce***** by Joseph Boyden (Native Canadian)
The Swallows of Kabul***** by Yasmina Khadra (Afghanistan)
Village of Stone***** by Xiaolu Guo (China)
The Lizard Cage***** by Karen Connelly (Thailand)
Ten Thousand Lovers***** by Edeet Ravel (Israel)
City of Thieves***** by David Benioff (Russia WW II)
The Door***** by Magda Szabo (Hungary)
Detective Story***** by Imre Kertesz (Hungary)
A Pigeon and a Boy***** by Meir Shalev (Israel)
A Thousand Splendid Suns**** by Khaled Hosseini (Afganistan)
Guernica***** by David Boling (Spain 1930s)
Sorry***** by Gail Jones (Australia/Aboriginal)
A Case of Exploding Mangoes**** by Mohamed Hanif (Pakistan)

I have reviews of Through Black Spruce and Guernica posted here if they interest you:

Debi said...

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm going to have great fun looking into all of these!

Sandra said...

Debi, that is so cool, I've been in Moosenee and Moose Factory too, though it was years ago. I'm glad I gave you that link. I can't wait to know what you think of it. Just to let you know Three Day Road is the book before this one and deals with the same family. I'm going to read it soon but I can image how powerful Through Black Spruce would be if you read Road first. Just a thought. Happy reading.

Nymeth said...

I can't be very helpful because I'm really not well-read in world lit (which is a reason why I should join this challenge, I know :P), but you have some excellent books on your list! Some I loved, some I want to read too (especially Things Fall Apart and Out of Africa).

But now that I saw Sandra mention Native Canadian, I have to plug Monkey Beach yet again. That book is so brilliant.

Debi said...

Thanks...think I'll have to go add that one to the wish list, too. :)

No help? Wrong! I'm soooo thrilled you reminded me of Monkey Beach...I hadn't thought of that one for this challenge, but I've really been wanting to read it ever since your review. And your mention of that also reminded me of Tell My Horse, which I've also been wanting to read. That would work, wouldn't you say?

Eva said...

If you tell me a country you're interested in, I can go check my huge-long geographically organised list and give you some suggestions! :) (I don't think you really want to know how long the list is)

Chris said...

Yep! You can put Dream home's down as Egyptian Jew. She really goes into the culture of her heritage quite a bit and it's amazing. And don't be intimidated by Love in the Time of Cholera. I was too before I picked it up. I figured "I'm too stupid to read this" but I got swept up in the language right away. It's such a beautiful book. I think you'd like it Debi!! Trust me...I'm the EXACT same way as you...I avoid "classics" or "smart people books" like the plague because I just know I won't get them!

Anonymous said...

huh, I could have SWORN I submitted a comment to this post! I rec'd I'jaam and The Reader... huh. oh well.

Debi said...

You absolutely crack me up!!! And make me feel better about myself, as that is soooooo something I would do if I read enough books to make such a list! Got anything for Morocco? Or Indonesia? Not sure why, but they both interest me.

In case I haven't told you for a while--I love you! I'm sooooo glad I'm not the only one intimidated by, as you so perfectly stated it, "smart people books"! I always tell myself that if I decide to try one of "those books," I just won't tell anyone, and then if I really don't get it no one need ever know. ;)

Good news! You're NOT losing it! :) You did tell me about those was just over on my blog where I keep my actual challenge lists. And by the way, they both sound fantastic! I hope I get to both of them...thank you!

Bogsider said...

Like Chris says, don't be intimidated by Love in the Time of Cholera. It wasn't hard to read or understand at all (whether I liked it or not is something we can talk about if/when you've read it).

I can also (HIGHLY) recommend House of Spirits (Chile) by Isabel Allende. Beautifully written, enganging, no, TOTALLY engaging story and mucho flavor of the country, it's people, past, relative present, politics etc. Great read.
I can also recommend The Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz. It takes place in Cairo, Egypt, during WW 2.

By the same author you could try The Thief and the Dogs. Place: Cairo, Egypt.

Naguib Mahfouz is a bit convoluted in his language and style, but not hard to understand at all.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Hugely popular crime-fiction in all of Scandinavia.


Debi said...

Thank you! I'm definitely going to add these to my possibles list as well! I'm looking forward to The House of Spirits more and more!

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm newbie in Internet, can you give me some useful links? I know only about Yahoo [url=]Yahoo[/url] Yahoo