27 May 4 Amazing Novels That Will Transport You To Another Land
We can’t always travel but we should still be growing and learning. Even when we’re stuck at home, we have the opportunity to better understand the world and expose ourselves to different cultures through the powerful stories of today’s award winning authors.
I read all four of these books within the last year or so, and each one has left a lasting impression. I haven’t been anywhere near these parts of the world yet, so it’s a privilege to be able to get a glimpse of these places, people, and cultures and learn from them.
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
This is the powerful, true story of a young girl who stood up to the Taliban for her right to go to school. Enduring persecution to the point of being shot in the head by a terrorist, Malala miraculously survived to continue her family’s legacy advocating for girls’ education in Pakistan. She is the youngest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize award.
Although under the threat of terrorism, it is courage and passion that radiate from this story, rather than fear or misery. It also paints a vivid picture of village life in a beautiful Pakistani mountain region, both before and during Taliban occupation, transporting the reader inside Malala’s home and classroom as she goes through her daily life.
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is an insightful story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman, who reluctantly leaves her home country and her first love to attend school in the United States. As she navigates culture shock and hardship, she disconnects from her love, Obinze, who coincidentally is enduring the perils of being an undocumented immigrant in London. Eventually the two return separately to settle in Nigeria.
In this novel, the reader is transported into the culture of Nigeria and the experience of African refugees in the West through masterfully crafted characters.
by Dave Eggers
This remarkable novel is based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who fled his village home in Sudan during an attack and became one of the “Lost Boys,” traversing three countries on foot to escape. The story follows him from his displacement at age seven, his trek across deserts with thousands of other youth, his experience in refugee camps, and his struggle to make a life as a refugee in the U.S.
Though the circumstances are tragic, it is a compelling story that sparks passion and compassion. The reader gains a deep appreciation for those trapped amidst civil war and for the complex, surprising disappointments of reaching the “land of the free.”
by Abraham Verghese
This is a masterfully woven tale of Marion and his twin brother, Shiva, who grew up amidst a hospital compound in Ethiopia with their adopted parents, both doctors. The rest is hard to describe – sometimes gritty, sometimes bordering miraculous, and often in the tension between broken and being repaired. The story transports the reader to India, Ethiopia, and inner-city New York as the protagonist encounters conflicts and triumphs throughout his life. Note: Be warned, there is quite a bit of medical imagery (i.e. descriptions of surgery) throughout. While you don’t have to be a physician to appreciate what’s written, but if you don’t do well with blood, it could be upsetting.
We’re always looking for recommendations. What books have you read that gave you the itch to travel, or helped you understand a culture without going there yourself?
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