In these days of the pandemic, the only type of travel most of us are comfortable doing is armchair travel. Through books, I have discovered cities and countries I am yet to visit. I have come to know more about their culture, history and socio-political life. Lands that are distant and alien get a feeling of familiarity through books. I have tried to compile a list of a few of my favourite books written by authors from a particular country. Another common denominator in the list is that all the books were written by women and have a woman’s point of view. This, in my opinion, gives a unique flavour to these books. Another fact that stands out, is that humans emotions don’t change, whether the story is set in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Korea, Turkey, Nigeria or Ghana.
A God In Every Stone: Kamila Shamsie, country: Pakistan. I could have picked the author’s other book, Kartography, that brought alive Karachi. However, I decided to go with “A God In Every Stone” as it made me aware of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre of 1930. Despite being an Indian and sharing the freedom struggle with Pakistan, I was unaware of this momentous event and the role of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. Peshawar comes alive in this novel.
A Golden Age: Tahmima Anam, country: Bangladesh. I had purchased this book as I was on a quest to read more authors from the Indian sub-continent. This book tells the story of Bangladesh’s war of Independence through the eyes of Rehana Haque’s family.
Pachinko: Min Jin Lee, country: Korea/Japan. A story of a Korean family that emigrates to Japan during Japan’s occupation of Korea. This story belongs to Sonja. Her struggle to adjust in Japan, the hardships she undergoes, the unspoken racism against the Koreans in Japan are all portrayed beautifully. Sonja’s quiet, pragmatic strength stands out in the novel.
Americanah: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Country: Nigeria/US. Young Ifemelu comes to America with dreams in her eyes. However, in America, she discovers her identity has been reduced to being a “black”. A novel set in Nigeria and the US, it explores race, culture, identity. It is a novel that tries to discover what it means to “belong”.
Honour: Elif Shafak, Country: Turkey,London. Turkey, more specifically Istanbul, always has a predominant place in Elif Shafak novels. “Honour” takes a brutal look at the treatment of women under the garb of upholding family’s honour. The deeply moving, poignant tale left a deep mark on me.
Homegoing: Yaa Gyasi, Country: Ghana/US. Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are unknown to each other’s existence. One sister gets married to a British Official, while the other is sold as a slave. One is Fante, the other Asante. A story that spans centuries, generations and continents, it is an absorbing, riveting read of human emotions and survival.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon for August,2021.