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Topic: I once had a boyfriend who told me, "I'm just not a bestsellers kind of guy

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Subject: I once had a boyfriend who told me, "I'm just not a bestsellers kind of guy
Date Posted: 12/9/2007 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 7
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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

Date Posted: 12/11/2007 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2007
Posts: 399
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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)

Labyrinth :: Kate Mosse (some of it takes place outside the US but many of the main characters are American)

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books :: Azar Nafisi (Nonfiction, Was on the NYT list but I love it anyway, written by a woman and takes place outside the US)

Date Posted: 12/14/2007 12:19 AM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2007
Posts: 1
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Heather,

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

Dave Bell

Date Posted: 12/15/2007 7:02 PM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2006
Posts: 64
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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. 

Date Posted: 12/19/2007 2:09 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,453
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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

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 7:17 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2007
Posts: 1
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Hi Heather, 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!
Date Posted: 12/28/2007 10:02 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 4
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For an international look and/or thoughtful writing, try the following:

  • Waiting - Ha Jin
  • Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Interpreters of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
  • The House of Spirits - Isabel Allende
  • Amsterdam (or in the alternative, Atonement) - Ian McEwan

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:

http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=amb_link_5901212_3?ie=UTF8&node=542942&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=browse&pf_rd_r=1S85KQ57357VJ3ZVHGX9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=344632201&pf_rd_i=283155

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.

Date Posted: 1/2/2008 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 8,410
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I recommend "Heaven Lake" by John Dalton.  I thought this was a GREAT book.

Rose M. (RoseM) - ,
Date Posted: 1/4/2008 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
Posts: 26
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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.