Hopefully by now you’re well on your way to completing a Summer Book Bingo Card, but if not, we’re here to help. For the “Set in another country,” square there is a super-secret librarian trick to browsing fiction by country in the library catalog. To bring up a list of fiction set in a particular country, you can search for keywords “<Name of country> fiction,” for example: South Africa fiction, Argentina fiction, Iceland fiction, and so on.
One of my favorite books is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (RUSSIA). Part social commentary, part supernatural love story, part political satire, it defies easy categorization. Margarita’s love for the Master, an author working on a novel that brings to life the guilty conscience of Pontius Pilate after his brief encounter with the philosopher from Nazareth, leads her to desperate measures. The Devil himself arrives in Moscow with a retinue of odd associations, including an insolent, large black cat, wreaking havoc on the city’s residents, and forever changing the fate of Margarita and the Master.
The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu (CHINA) is the first in a science fiction trilogy about first contact with a strange world that haphazardly orbits around its three stars. The contact is set in motion during the turbulent Cultural Revolution, and the story that unfolds is no less unstable and dramatic.
Since Seattle is home to one of the largest populations of Somali refugees in the United States, I’m including one book from the diaspora. Somali author Nadifa Mohamed weaves together the stories of three women as they struggle to survive the chaos and cruelty of civil war in The Orchard of Lost Souls (SOMALIA).
Down a crooked alley in suburban Tokyo, in a small house next to a wooden fence, a man and woman find the perfect rental home. If sitting in the garden, pondering the lives of neighborhood cats, overhearing the conversations of neighbors sounds appealing to you, then the slightly melancholy The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (JAPAN) is the perfect book for you. Bonus points: It’s short!
Set in a courtyard building in Mexico City, Umami by Laia Jufresa (MEXICO) reveals the sweet, sour, bitter and salty stories of the neighbors living next to each other.
In The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata (INDONESIA) a group of school children in Indonesia unite to defend the only free school on their island. This charming novel will have you rooting for the kids against the big mining interests that are taking over their town.
What happens in the aftermath of a terrorist explosion? The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (India) explores the interconnected lives of people affected on all sides.
There are many options out there, and we’re always happy to help you find one just right for you!
— posted by Toby T.