Around the world in seven books

[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]

Student budget too tight to go abroad? Don’t fret – you can travel the world in books. Here’s a handy list to aid your literature jet-setting. Can you visit every continent before the summer is over?

Europe

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante (Italian)

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A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.’

Asia

Man Tiger – Eka Kurniawan (Indonesian)

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A slim, wry story set in an unnamed town near the Indian Ocean, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster who also happens to be half-man, half-supernatural female white tiger.’

North and Central America

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros (Mexican-American)

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The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.’

South America

The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector (Brazilian)

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Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life’s unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marylin Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly, and unloved.’

Africa

Aya: Life in Yop City – Marguerite Abouet (Ivorian)

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Ivory Coast, 1978. It’s a golden time, and the nation, too—an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa—seems fueled by something wondrous. Aya is loosely based upon Marguerite Abouet’s youth in Yop City. It is the story of the studious and clear-sighted nineteen-year-old Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It’s a wryly funny, breezy account of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City.’

Australia/Oceania

The Swan Book – Alexis Wright (Native Australian Waayni)

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The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute young woman called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city.’

Antarctica

No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica – Liv Arnesen, Ann Bancroft (set in Antarctica)

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‘In February 2001, former schoolteachers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen became the first women to cross the Antarctic continent on foot.  About journeys both literal and figurative, each marked with suspense, danger, and incredible endurance No Horizon Is So Far celebrates two modern-day heroines and that which is heroic in all of us.’
Descriptions adapted from blurbs

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Around the world in seven books