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Teng Ai Hui

Fiction about Each Country

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I know we have done this before but it has been several years.

Just list one or two fictional books that you have read about different countries.  The book, even though it’s fictional, must present a significant amount of historical and/or cultural detail about the non-fictional country in which it is set.

 

my list:

Algeria – The Plague by Camus

China – Red Sorghum by Mo Yan, Wolf Totem by Rong Jiang

Denmark – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

England – Pride and Prejudice

Germany – The Book Thief

Japan – Memoirs of a Geisha, Shogun

Sweden – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Series, book 3)

USA – Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag, The Jungle

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Norway - He Who Fears the Wolf, Karin Fossum

Afghanistan - The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

France - The Accursed Kings, Maurice Druon

India - Q&A Vikas Swarup

USA, CA - (is it worth separating by State?) Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Mexico - Hurricane Gold, Charlie Higson

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Bosnia and Herzegovina - The Bridge on the Drina, Ivo Andric

France - Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (really anything by Hugo, or Dumas)

Spain - The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Franco's Spain)

Jamaica - A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James (Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora)

Colombia - One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (multi-generational)

Japan - The Silence, Shusaku Endo (Christian persecution in 17th C Japan)

Afghanistan - The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

 

 

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Russia: The Idiot, Feodor Dostoevsky; Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy; Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak; The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

The Netherlands: The Assault, Harry Mulisch

Australia: True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey

Egypt: The Mirage, Naguib Mahfouz 

Mozambique: Sleepwalking Land, Mia Couto

Germany: Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse; The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass; The Clown, Heinrich Boll 

Trinidad and Tobago: A House for Mr Biswas, VS Naipaul; The Chip-Chip Gatherers, Shiva Naipaul

Haiti: Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat

Ireland: Troubles, JG Farrell; Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Roddy Doyle

N. Ireland: Milkman, Anna Burns

Vietnam: Novel Without a Name, Duong Thu Huong 

Japan: Forbidden Colors, Yukio Mishima; The Ark Sakura, Kobo Abe; Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, Kenzaburo Oe

Norway: Hunger, Knut Hamsun; Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson

Poland: Primeval and Other Times, Olga Tokarczuk 

Spain: Don Quixote (etc), Miguel de Cervantes (etc); Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, Javier Marias 

Iceland: Under the Glacier, Halldor Laxness 

Peru: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa

Austria: The Piano Teacher, Elfriede Jelinek

China: Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian; The Republic of Wine, Mo Yan

S. Korea: The Old Garden, Hwang Sok-yong; Your Republic is Calling You, Kim Young-ha 

Turkey: Snow, Orhan Pamuk

USA: White Noise, Don DeLillo; A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole; Beloved, Toni Morrison; The Roundhouse, Louise Erdrich 

Columbia: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

Portugal: All the Names, Jose Saramago 

India: Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie; Shalimar the Clown, Salman Rushdie; The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy; The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy; The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai; Fasting, Feasting, Anita Desai; The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga; Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil 

Nigeria: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe; The Famished Road, Ben Okri 

Pakistan: Shame, Salman Rushdie; The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid

Hungary: Embers, Sándor Márai 

Switzerland: The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann 

Argentina: Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar

Romania: The Passport, Herta Muller

South Africa: The Life and Times of Michael K, JM Coetzee; Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda

Mexico: The Death of Artemio Cruz, Carlos Fuentes 

Canada: The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

Dominican Republic: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

Czech Republic: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera 

Iran: The Blind Owl, Sadegh Hedayat

 

Edited by Myshkin

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Among my favorites are Captain Alatriste series set mostly in 17th C Spain -- though they are in Flanders at one point during those interminable Spanish-French wars, just as with another of my favorite series, Alexandre Dumas's historicals of 17th century, reaching into the Napoleanic wars to conclude, Robert Merle's historical series, Fortunes of France, of 16th-17th century France and Henryk Sienkiewicz's Polish Trilogy, set in the 17th C. The films made from the Trilogy are brilliant -- and, as the books and Poland's plight, I believe, deeply influenced Tolkien, so I think the films influenced Jackson, particularly, as with Tolkien, the orcs. Tolkien, after all, was Catholic, and lived among the displaced Polish community particularly in Oxford.  Plus, Sienkiewicz did receive the Nobel Prize for Literature!

 

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On 2/23/2020 at 10:06 PM, Zorral said:

Henryk Sienkiewicz's Polish Trilogy, set in the 17th C. The films made from the Trilogy are brilliant -- and, as the books and Poland's plight, I believe, deeply influenced Tolkien, so I think the films influenced Jackson, particularly, as with Tolkien, the orcs. Tolkien, after all, was Catholic, and lived among the displaced Polish community particularly in Oxford.  Plus, Sienkiewicz did receive the Nobel Prize for Literature!

Fun fact: Sienkiewicz, and particularly for The Trilogy, is considered the first Polish pulp fiction writer nowadays, due to his "unorthodox" approach to historical events. It doesn't change the fact the books are a great read of course, especially for YA.

Also @Myshkin As far as I remember The Tin Drum mostly took place in Gdańsk, which was not a part of Germany at the time (nor it is now of course).

Edited by 3CityApache

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4 minutes ago, 3CityApache said:

Also @Myshkin As far as I remember The Tin Drum mostly took place in Gdańsk, which was not a part of Germany at the time (nor it is now of course).

True, but in the time it was set Gdańsk (Danzig) was not really part of Poland either. As the book was written by a German, about mostly German speaking characters, and explored themes more relevant to postwar Germany than postwar Poland, I decided to list it under Germany. 

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25 minutes ago, 3CityApache said:

the books are a great read of course, especially for YA.

Cannot imagine any YA -- not in this country! -- reading anything by Sienkiewicz, and especially the Trilogy.  Hey YAs and all the way up to Gen X can't even read LOTR as far too boring and long.

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I'm going to limit myself to novels written by someone in that country or who was an immigrant from that country. And since I'm old this will only be a small selection of what I remember off the top of my head.

Japan: H. Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

Taiwan: Xiao Lihong, A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers

India: K. Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve; Premchand, Godaan (The Death of a Cow)

Israel: Batya Gur, The Saturday Morning Murder and Literary Murder

Azerbaijan: Kurban Said, Ali and Nino

Ghana: Kojo Laing, Woman of the Aeroplanes

Nigeria: Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood; 

Morocco: Abdelkader Benali, Wedding by the sea

Italy: Elsa Morante, Aracoeli

Spain: Aruturo Perez- Reverte, Captain Alatriste

Portugal: Saramago, Jose, Baltasar and Blimunda

France:  Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Norway: Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter

Sweden: Selma Lagerlof, The Ring of the Lowenskolds

Scotland: Alasdair Gray, Lanark; The Fall of Kelvin Walker; and Poor Things

Chile: Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits

Brazil: de Queiroz, Rachel, Dora, Doralina

Canada:  Alice Munro, Runaway

Peru: Mario Vargas Llosa, Who Killed Palomino Molero?

Colombia: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One hundred years of solitude

Cuba: Reinaldo Arenas, Singing from the Well

 

I'm not going to list anything from either England or the United States right now. Again, I'm sure there are things I've forgotten. The only novels by German authors I can remember at the moment are Hans Bemmann's The Stone and the Flute and Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, but as those are both fantasies I'm not sure they are relevant for this thread. 

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8 hours ago, Zorral said:

Cannot imagine any YA -- not in this country! -- reading anything by Sienkiewicz, and especially the Trilogy.  Hey YAs and all the way up to Gen X can't even read LOTR as far too boring and long.

Well, they are kinda forced to do so, as several Sienkiewicz books are on the list of school required reading. :)

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11 hours ago, 3CityApache said:

Well, they are kinda forced to do so, as several Sienkiewicz books are on the list of school required reading. :)

Ha! not in this country, and not ever in this country.

In fact, by now the later generations in even higher education absolutely WILL NOT READ BOOKS AT ALL.  I am not making this up.  It is too much reading and we don't need to do it, s we won't.  And they don't.  It's leaving academia in a quandary all right.  As far as the kids who were born into the internet generation are concerned, it has to be Youtube, a podcast or twitter.  Period.  This is, as I say, this country.  I don't think it has gotten like that quite yet in other countries.  So you all will be smarter. Ha!

 

 

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I'm afraid you've got a point. I have to force my daughters (11 and 13) to read anything. Boy, the older was reluctant (to say the least) to read Harry Potter (she stopped somewhere around The Goblet of Fire). This is pretty scary actually. 

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