A Year of Reading the World blog is a great resource if you’d like to read about other countries. Here at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life you can click on Reading the Globe or Reading Around the World in the tag cloud to see posts on such books.
NOTE: I excluded The United Kingdom since I read way too many books from there! Yes, that means no England, no Scotland, no Wales. Sorry.
I also excluded books on the Holocaust because that wouldn’t be appropriate (to me at least) even though they occurred in Poland or Germany, etc. Ditto the Soviet Gulag.
This list includes both fiction and nonfiction.
Two From Venice
Both the City-State and the modern Italian city
The Gondola Maker, set in the 16th century is a story–as the title implies–of a young man entering the trade of making gonolas. There is some disturbing content in here meant to shock–child rape. I put up with that only because it, sadly, was in tune with the time period of the book.
Two From Trinidad
A House For Mr. Biswas is now regarded as a classic. Trying to end the domination of his wife’s family on his life, Mr. Biswas struggles manfully for independence–including the acquistion of a separate home. I read this in ’89 in the Peace Corps–it was one of those books every Peace Corps Volunteer seemed to read and not only because the selection of books in the pre-Internet, pre-Kindle days was so sparce in Malawi.
The White Woman on a Green Bicycle tells the story of a diplomats wife living in Trinidad and dealing with daily life as the islands go thru the rumblings of independence. A great take on expatriate life.
A Peace Corps Classic from Togo
George Packer’s memoir of his time in Togo with the U.S. Peace Corps is a soft-of classic in that genre. He tells the real story. Though now about 35 years old, it is still very relevant. Village of Waiting.
What happens AFTER the revolution? How does a child see the world? What happens when the dream comes true and the child moves to the States? We Need New Names by Violet Bulawayo.
One From Malawi
There was Malawi before Madonna found it. This novel, set in the last days of dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda, is real life Malawi at the time I lived there. Sugarcane With Salt by James Ng’ombe.
One other that is “sort of” set in Malawi…..
A fictionalized Madonna in a fictionalized Malawi. Ok! Yes. It does include London life. BUT, I’ve chosen it purely for the parts in the fictionalized Malawi. There. Happy? Swing Time by Zadie Smith. You can read my full review here.
Peter Mayle may have invented the expatriate goes aborad to stay memoir. I’m not sure. Whatever. This one is pure joy. A Year in Provence.
One From Iceland