53 Must Read Books | Diverse Novels

If you’re like me and constantly wanting to look for new books to read from ethnic authors too. I’ve composed a list of 52 books for the entire year! I won’t talk too much, but let me know which books you are looking forward to reading. I’ll also be listing links to where you can purchase the books. Download my checklist to keep track of the books you’ve read or purchased!

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53 books from around the world

1 |Albania| Chronicle in Stone

By Ismail Kadare, 1971
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Masterful in its simplicity, Chronicle in Stone is a touching coming-of-age story and a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit. Surrounded by the magic of beautiful women and literature, a boy must endure the deprivations of war as he suffers the hardships of growing up. His sleepy country has just thrown off centuries of tyranny, but new waves of domination inundate his city. Through the boy’s eyes, we see the terrors of World War II as he witnesses fascist invasions, allied bombings, partisan infighting, and the many faces of human cruelty as well as the simple pleasures of life.

2 |Algeria| The Stranger

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.

By Albert Camus, 1942

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3 |Austria| The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher, the most famous novel of Elfriede Jelinek, who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature, is a shocking, searing, aching portrait of a woman bound between a repressive society and her darkest desires.

Please note: This book is a difficult read as it is dark, disturbing and somewhat uncomfortable. It includes themes such as self-harm, domestic violence and sexual dominance that I do not recommend for younger audiences.

Elfriede Jelinek, 1983

4 |Azerbaijan

Kurban Said, 1937

Ali and Nino is Kurban Said’s masterpiece. It is a captivating novel as evocative of the exotic desert landscape as it is of the passion between two people pulled apart by culture, religion, and war. It is the eve of World War I in Baku, Azerbaijan, a city on the edge of the Caspian Sea, poised precariously between east and west. Ali Khan Shirvanshir, a Muslim schoolboy from a proud, aristocratic family, has fallen in love with the beautiful and enigmatic Nino Kipiani, a Christian girl with distinctly European sensibilities. To be together, they must overcome blood feud and scandal, attempt a daring horseback rescue, and travel from the bustling street of oil-boom Baku, through starkly beautiful deserts and remote mountain villages, to the opulent palace of Ali’s uncle in neighbouring Persia.

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5 |Belgium|The Lady and the Unicorn

Tracy Chevalier, 2003 ,Paris -1490

The Lady and The Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier, 2003 Paris, 1490.
A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas des Innocents to design them. Nicolas creates havoc among the women in the house—mother and daughter, servant, and lady-in-waiting—before taking his designs north to the Brussels workshop where the tapestries are to be woven. There, master weaver, Georges de la Chapelle risks everything he has to finish the fabrics—his most beautiful, most intricate work—on time for his exacting French client. The results change all their lives—lives that have been captured in the tapestries, for those who know where to look.

6 |Bolivia| Marching Powder

Rusty Powder, 2003
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Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro prison. Intrigued, the young Australian journalist went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas’s illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas’s experiences in the jail. Rusty bribed the guards to allow him to stay and for the next three months, he lived inside the prison, sharing a cell with Thomas and recording one of the strangest and most compelling prison stories of all time. The result is Marching Powder.

7 |Bosnia and Herzegovina|People of the Book

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

Geraldine Brooks, 2008

8 |Croatia| The Hired Man

Duro is off on a morning’s hunt when he sees something one rarely does in Gost: a strange car. Later that day, he overhears its occupants, a British woman, Laura, and her two children, who have taken up residence in a house Duro knows well. He offers his assistance getting their water working again, and soon he is at the home every day, helping get it ready as their summer cottage, and serving as Laura’s trusted confidant.

By Aminatta Forna, 2013

9 |Cuba|Our Man in Havana

Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates to this day. Conceived as one of Graham Greene’s ‘entertainments,’ it tells of MI6’s man in Havana, Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true.

By Graham Greene, 1958

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10 |Czech Republic|The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles, to take its place as perhaps the significant achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers.

By Milan Kundera, 1984

11 |Denmark| Number the Stars

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943, and their experience in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

By Lois Lowry, 1989

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12 |Ecuador| The Queen of Water

Laura Resau, 2011

In this poignant novel based on a true story, Virginia’s story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope. Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her community of indígenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta – stupid Indian – by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.

13 |Finland| The Summer Book

An elderly artist and her six-year-old granddaughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, whims and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the island itself, with its mossy rocks, windswept firs and unpredictable seas.

By Tove Jansson, 1972

14|Georgia| A Time of Miracles

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Blaise Fortune, also known as Koumaïl, loves hearing the story of how he came to live with Gloria in the Republic of Georgia: Gloria was picking peaches in her father’s orchard when she listened to a train derail. After running to the site of the accident, she found an injured woman who asked Gloria to take her baby. The woman, Gloria claims, was French, and the baby was Blaise.

By Anne-Laure Bondoux, 2007

15 |Ghana| Homecoming

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a significant new voice in contemporary fiction.

By Yaa Gyasi, 2016

16 |Guam|Keeper of the Night

Kimberly Willis Holt, 2003

Isabel’s mother died peacefully. At least that’s what Isabel likes to think since no one in her family will talk about the truth. But in spite of their avoidance, in spite of their brave faces, the fact has a way of revealing itself at night, in her family’s behaviour. Her father sleeps curled up on the floor right where Mama’s body was found. Olivia wets her bed and repeatedly wakes from nightmares, and Frank has started carving his anger into his bedroom wall. It’s up to Isabel to help her family get beyond the pain and loss–to be the keeper of the night. But who will help Isabel?

17 |Haiti| Breath, Eyes, Memory

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

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Edwidge Danticcat, 1994

18 |Honduras|Enrique’s Journey

In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States. When Enrique is five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade.

Sonia Nazario, 2005

19 |Hong kong|The Piano Teacher

Janice Y.k Lee, 2008

Exotic Hong Kong takes centre stage in this sumptuous novel, set in the 1940s and ’50s. It’s a city teeming with people, sights, sounds, and smells, and it’s home to a group of foreign nationals who enjoy the good life among the local moneyed set, in a tight-knit social enclave distanced from the culture at large. Comfortable, intelligent, and even a bit dazzling, they revel in their fancy dinners and fun parties. But their sheltered lives take an abrupt turn after the Japanese occupation, and though their reactions are varied — denial, resistance, submission — the toll it takes on all is soon laid bare.

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20 |Hungary| The Door

Magda Szabro, 1987

A busy young writer struggling to cope with domestic chores hires a housekeeper recommended by a friend. The housekeeper’s reputation is one built on dependable efficiency, though she is something of an oddity. Stubborn, foul-mouthed and with a flagrant disregard for her employer’s opinions, she may even be crazy. She allows no-one to set foot inside her house; she masks herself with a veil and is equally guarded about her personal life. And yet Emerence is revered as much as she is feared. As the story progresses her energy and passion for helping become clear, extinguishing any doubts arising out of her bizarre behaviour. A stylishly told tale which recounts a strange relationship built up over 20 years between a writer and her housekeeper. After an unpromising and caustic start, benevolent feelings develop and ultimately the writer benefits from what becomes an inseparable relationship. Simultaneously we learn Emerence’s tragic past which is revealed in snapshots throughout the book.

21 |Israel|A Tale of Love and Darkness

Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, A Tale of Love and Darkness is at once a family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. It is the story of a boy growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother’s suicide when he was twelve years old.

By Amos Oz, 2002

22 |Laos|The Coroners Lunch

Laos, 1978: Dr Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has been unwillingly appointed the national coroner of newly-socialist Laos. Though his lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky to say the least, Siri’s sense of humour gets him through his often frustrating days. When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through his morgue, Siri has reason to suspect the woman has been murdered. To get to the truth, Siri and his team face government secrets, spying neighbours, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other deadly dangers. Somehow, Siri must figure out a way to balance the will of the party and the will of the dead.

Colin Cotterill, 2004
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23 |Lebanon|The Hakawati

Rabih Alameddine, 2008

An inventive, exuberant novel that takes us from the shimmering dunes of ancient Egypt to the war-torn streets of twenty-first-century Lebanon. In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returned to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father’s deathbed. The city is a shell of the Beirut Osama remembers, but he and his friends and family take solace in the things that have always sustained them: gossip, laughter, and, above all, stories. Osama’s grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories—of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of how he earned the name al-Kharrat, the fibster—are interwoven with classic tales of the Middle East, stunningly reimagined.

24 |Malaysia|The Gift of Rain

Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love. The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel casts a powerful spell. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.

By Tan Twan Eng, 2007

25 |Mozambique|Sleepwalking Land (Terra Sonambula)

As the civil war rages in 1980s Mozambique, an old man and a young boy, refugees from the war, seek shelter in a burnt-out bus. Among the effects of a dead passenger, they come across a set of notebooks that tell of his life as the boy reads the story to his elderly companion, this story and their own development in tandem. Written in 1992, Mia Couto’s first novel is a powerful indictment of the suffering war brings.

Mia Couto, 1992
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26 |Nicaragua|The Jaguar Smile

Salman Rushdie, 1987

In this brilliantly focused and haunting portrait of the people, the politics, the land, and the poetry of Nicaragua, Salman Rushdie brings to the forefront the profound human facts of a country in the midst of a revolution. Rushdie went to Nicaragua in 1986, harbouring no preconceptions of what he might find. What he discovered was overwhelming: a culture of heroes who had turned into inanimate objects and of politicians and warriors who were poets; a land of painful, often beautiful contradictions. His perceptions always heightened by his exceptional sensitivity to “the views from underneath,” Rushdie reveals a nation resounding with the clashes between history and morality, government and individuals.

27 |Norway|The Ice Palace

Commonly seen as the legendary Norwegian writer’s masterpiece, this story tells the tale of Siss and Unn, two friends who have only spent one evening in each other’s company. But so profound is this evening between them that when Unn inexplicably disappears, Siss’s world is shattered. The Ice Palace is written in prose of a lyrical economy that ranks among the most memorable achievements of modern literature.

By Tarjei Vesaas, 1963

28 |Panama|The World in Half

Miraflores has never known her father, and until now, she’s never thought that he wanted to know her. She’s long been aware that her mother had an affair with him while she was stationed with her then-husband in Panama, and she’s always assumed that her pregnant mother came back to the United States alone with his consent. But when Miraflores returns to the Chicago suburb where she grew up, to care for her mother at a time of illness, she discovers that her mother and father had a greater love than she ever thought possible and that her father had wanted her more than she could have ever imagined.

Cristina Henriquez, 2009
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29 |Papua New Guinea| Euphoria

In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists were thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her intelligent and aggressive husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio is producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives…

Lily King, 2014

30 |Paraguay| The News from Paraguay

The year is l854. In Paris, Francisco Solano — the future dictator of Paraguay — begins his courtship of the young, beautiful Irish courtesan Ella Lynch with a poncho, a Paraguayan band, and a horse named Mathilde. Ella follows Franco to Asunción and reigns there as his mistress. Isolated and estranged in this new world, she embraces her lover’s ill-fated imperial dream — one fueled by a heedless arrogance that will devastate all of Paraguay.

By Lily Truck, 2004

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31 |Poland| The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Note: much of this story is set in German-occupied Poland.

Berlin 1942.

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as now as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

By John Boyne, 2006

32 |Puerto rico|When I was Puerto Rican

Esmeralda Santiago, 1993

Esmeralda Santiago’s story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. As she enters school, we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity.

33 |Romania| The Appointment

“I’ve been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp.” Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu’s totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men’s suits bound for Italy. “Marry me,” the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country. As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.

Herta Muller, 1997

34 |Scotland|Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

By Gail HoneyMan, 2017

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35 |Serbia| The Tiger’s Wife

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets are hidden in the landscape itself.

By Tea Obreht, 2011

36 |Singapore| Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians are the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

By Kevin Kwan, 2013

37 |Slovenia| Alamut

Vladimir Bartol, 1958

Alamut takes place in 11th Century Persia, in the fortress of Alamut, where self-proclaimed prophet Hasan ibn Sabbah is setting up his mad but brilliant plan to rule the region with a handful elite fighters who are to become his “living daggers.” By creating a virtual paradise at Alamut, filled with beautiful women, lush gardens, wine and hashish, Sabbah is able to convince his young fighters that they can reach heaven if they follow his commands.

38 |Sri Lanka| Island of a Thousand Mirrors

Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara’s and her siblings’ lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents’ ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between the Tamil and Sinhala people—but this peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara’s family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara’s life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl’s Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict that she has tried so hard to avoid – a battle that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways.

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Nayomi Munaweera, 2012

39 |Sudan| What is the What

Dave Eggers, 2006
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What Is the What is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges.

40 |Switzerland | Hotel Du Lac

In the novel that won her the Booker Prize and established her international reputation, Anita Brookner finds a new vocabulary for framing the eternal question “Why love?” It tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a pseudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own books, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to restore her to her senses. But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love’s casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure. Beautifully observed, witheringly funny, Hotel du Lac is Brookner at her most stylish and potently subversive.

Anita Brookner,1984

41 |Syria|In the Praise of Hatred

Khaled Khalifa, 2006

In 1980s Syria, a young Muslim girl lives a secluded life behind the veil in the vast and perfumed house of her grandparents. Her three aunts—the pious Maryam, the liberal Safaa, and the free-spirited Marwa—raise her with the aid of their ever-devoted blind servant. Soon the high walls of the family home are no longer able to protect the girl from the social and political chaos outside. Witnessing the ruling dictatorship’s bloody campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, she is filled with hatred for the regime and becomes increasingly radical. In the footsteps of her beloved uncle, Bakr, she launches herself into a fight for her religion, her country, and ultimately, for her own future. Against the backdrop of real-life events, In Praise of Hatred is a stirring, layered story that echoes the violence currently plaguing the Middle East.

42 |Taiwan| A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers

At once a bittersweet romance and a vividly detailed portrait of life in a southern Taiwanese coastal town in the 1970s, A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers captures the intimacy of cultivated growth in the midst of an increasingly industrialized society. At the heart of the story are Zhenguan, a sensitive young woman whose coming of age is influenced by new experiences in the city, the wisdom of her elders, and her firm, unique identity. In Zhenguan’s journey of first love, suffering, disillusionment, and–ultimately–zenlike triumph, Hsiao Li-hung celebrates the values and traditions that have sustained and nurtured life in Taiwan through the centuries.

Hsiao Li-Hung, 1981
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43 |Tanzania| The Magic of Saida

M. G. Vassanji, 2012

The Magic of Saida tells the haunting story of Kamal, a successful Canadian doctor who, in middle age and after decades in North America, decides to return to his homeland of East Africa to find his childhood sweetheart, Saida. Kamal’s journey is motivated by a combination of guilt, hope, and the desire to unravel the mysteries of his childhood–mysteries compounded by the fact that Kamal is the son of an absent Indian father from a well-to-do family and an African Swahili mother of slave ancestry. Through a series of flashbacks, we watch Kamal’s early years in the ancient coastal town of Kilwa, where he grows up in a world of poverty but also of poetry, sustained by his friendship with the magical Saida.

44 |Trinidad and Tobago| A House for Mr Biswas

In his forty-six short years, Mr Mohun Biswas has been fighting against destiny to achieve some semblance of independence, only to face a lifetime of calamity. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning death of his father, for which he is inadvertently responsible, Mr Biswas yearns for a place he can call home. But when he marries into the domineering Tulsi family on whom he indignantly becomes dependent, Mr Biswas embarks on an arduous–and endless–struggle to weaken their hold over him and purchase a house of his own. A heartrending, dark comedy of manners, A House for Mr Biswas masterfully evokes a man’s quest for autonomy against an emblematic post-colonial canvas.

V.S. NAIPAUL, 1999

45 |Tunisia|The Pillar of Salt

The Pillar of Salt the semi-autobiographical novel about a young boy growing up in French colonized Tunisia. To gain access to privileged French society, he must reject his many identities – Jew, Arab, and African. But, on the eve of World War II, he is forced to come to terms with his loyalties and his past.

By Albert Memmi, 1953

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46 |Uganda| Kintu

Uganda’s history reimagined through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan in an award-winning debut.

In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashed a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, 2014

47 |Ukraine | Everything is Illuminated

Jonathan Safran Foer, 2002

A young man arrives in Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, however, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into new forms; a ‘blind’ old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis, Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive – a truth is hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down…

48 |United Arab Emirates| The Sand Fish

A novel of Dubai, The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash, offers readers a fascinating glimpse into another corner of the world. Set in the 1950s in what is now the United Arab Emirates, The Sand Fish tells the poignant and compelling story of a rebellious young woman trapped in a repressive society—as richly atmospheric a look at Middle Eastern life and culture as The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building.

Maha Gargash, 1999
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49 Bonus* |United States of America|The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas, 2017

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds — the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.

50 |Uruguay| The Invisible Mountain

Carolina De Robertis, 2009

From Perón’s glittering Buenos Aires to the rustic hills of Rio de Janeiro, from the haven of a Montevideo butcher shop to U.S. embassy halls, The Invisible Mountain celebrates a nation’s spirit, the will to survive in the most desperate of circumstances, and the fierce and complex connections between mother and daughter. On the first day of the century, a small town gathers to witness a miracle and unravel its portents: the mysterious reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita. Later, as a young woman in the capital city—Montevideo, brimming with growth and promise—Pajarita begins a lineage of independent women. Her daughter Eva, intent on becoming a poet, overcomes an early, shattering betrayal to embark on a most unconventional path toward personal and artistic fulfilment. And Eva’s daughter Salomé, awakening to both her sensuality and political convictions amidst the violent turmoil of the late 1960s, finds herself dangerously attracted to a cadre of urban guerilla rebels.

51 |Vanuatu|Things Bright and Beautiful

Note: Salam spent six months working on a small South Pacific island, and her experiences there served as the inspiration for this novel. The novel is set in New Hebrides, now Vanuatu.

A lyrical and suspenseful debut novel from an exciting and darkly comic new voice in literary fiction.

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Mission House was not built for three people. Especially when one of them won’t stop humming. 1954, the South Pacific islands. When Beatriz Hanlon agreed to accompany her missionary husband Max to a remote island, she knew there would be challenges. But it isn’t just the heat and the damp and the dirt. There are more insects than she could ever have imagined, and the islanders are strangely hostile. And then there are the awful noises coming from the church at night.

Anbara Salam, 2018

52 |Venezuela| Keepers of the House

Lydia, an Englishwoman, marries Diego, and they return to La Bebella, a dilapidated mansion on a neglected estate upon which years of drought and disease have taken their toll. Only Benito, her husband’s retainer, remains and when her husband becomes depressed and a virtual recluse, Lydia has to take on the management of the estate. Benito recounts to her the past history of the family and its gradual decline, and it is this history and the characters concerned which forms the bulk of the narrative.

Shirley Ann Grau, 1982

53 |Zimbabwe| We Need New Names

NoViolet Bulawayo, 2013

An exciting literary debut: the unflinching and compelling story of a young girl’s journey out of Zimbabwe and to America. Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

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Melissa Philippe is a devoted Christian wife and mom who after 13 years in education retired to raise her family. With degrees in English, Writing and literature while being a doula and certified Montessori educator and an Adult and Child Psychologist with a focus on development and neuroscience. It's given her the opportunity to learn from both sides of the fence and use the same practices in our own family. Melissa is also a multi-award-winning educator, parent blogger and influencer. - Melissa Philippe (Laura Valentine)

2 thoughts on “53 Must Read Books | Diverse Novels

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

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    1. Thank you so much for this sweet comment! I love books and to provide you with an array of books that aren’t the norm and are different is my goal for sure! Don’t hesitate to comment again!

      Like

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