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Hello all, Could anyone recommend some good fiction by international writers, or fiction that takes place outside of the U.S.? I just finished The Kite Runner, which was pretty exceptional. I usually prefer female protagonists (it's silly, I know), but Khaled Hosseini's writing speaks to everyone, I think. On a side note, lately I have been gravitating toward books on the New York Times bestseller lists or books that have won awards. I don't usually pay attention to this particular distinction (besides the fact that these books are displayed most prominently at my local bookstore), but I'm growing tired of reading flimsy, disappointing fiction. I don't even know why I read The Alchemist's Daughter all the way through, for example. The plot was predictable, the characters uninteresting, and the tone affected. Oh well. I did like the setting, at least. I'm not sure it's wise to recommend a book I'm only halfway done with, but (so far, at least), I do love Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. It's a Pulitzer Prize winner, which attracted me initially. I liked The Virgin Suicides, by the same author, but Middlesex has already made a stronger impression on me. Anyway, I have to remind myself that some of my favorite books (Drop City, by T.C. Boyle, for instance), have received no special recognition. There are also many bestsellers that I just don't like (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons). I'm curious, do any of you stick to award-winning books for similar reasons (so as not to get burned/bored/annoyed)? Heather
Books I Like with female protagonists:
Contact by Carl Sagan (much better than the movie)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (only graphic novel I've ever read)
Here are a few books that I found worthwhile reading and speak to the type of literature you might enjoy.
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan safran Foer
The Inheirtance of Loss - Kiran Desai
Kakka on the Shore - H. Murakami
Blindness - Jose Saramago
The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood
Dalva - Jim Harrison
Stones from the River - Ursella Hegi
Lambs of God - Marele Day
And She Was - Cindy Dyson
The Hungry Tide - Amitav Ghosh.
That's a lot ofreading, I know, but I feel they are all great fiction and well written. If I was to pick several from the list, I would highly recommend Dalva, Kafka on the Shore, Stones from the River and Blindness.
Good Reading to you Lucid
The Thirteenth Tale, Kate Setterfield
Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende
The Dress Lodger (historical fiction, I have forgotten the author's name)
I second some of Dave's recs, esp the Life of Pi, which I just finished ... it was brilliant, but no female protagonist. Ditto The Handmaid's Tale.
Darjeeling by Bharti Kirchner
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (set in both India and the US)
Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
Agnes Browne by Brendan O'Carroll
Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A couple of my favorite books in this area have been:
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China --Author: Jung Chang. It's an autobiograpy, but reads more like a novel. The "3 daughters" are the grandmother, mother and the daughter (also the writer) and how they met the challenges faced by political turbulence in China. Amazon has a good overview on it.
Broken for You -- Author Stephanie Kallos
Hope you find something you enjoy!
For an international look and/or thoughtful writing, try the following:
I pretty much quit reading most bestsellers (i.e., usually if it falls into the category that entails, "Mass market paperback," or "NYT Bestseller," it gets skipped) after 8th grade. Most of those are either badly written, or they fall in the category of "page turners," where they don't leave you with any kind of lasting impact to remember them by. Books that have won the Man Booker prize are consistently amazing. Amazon has compiled a list of award-winners:
And there is a booklist of "1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die," which you can find off of Google. Some of the authors on it are somewhat overexposed, but it's a worthwhile list to cull from.
I definitely fall in that category - I love reading, but am generally not impressed with books on bestseller lists. Snobbish? Maybe, but I hate wasting my time when I know there's so many great books out there! I second many of the recommendations here, particularly anything by Murakami and Lahiri.