The Circle of Karma: Kunzang Choden

This is the story of Pema Tsomo, who grows up in a village in Bhutan. When she is born, the astrologer tells her mother that the child will be restless, always wanting to travel. But, her mother thinks, where can a girl go? Women didn’t leave their homes; they stayed and took care of their …

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Of Water and the Spirit—Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman: Malidoma Patrice Somé

“The story I am going to tell comes from a place deep inside of myself, a place that perceives all that I have irremediably lost and, perhaps, what gain there is behind the loss. If people forget their past as a way to survive, other people remember it for the same reason. When cultures with …

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The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo: Germano Almeida

Translated from Portuguese by Sylvia Glaser “The reading of the last will and testament of Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo ate up a whole afternoon. When he reached the one-hundred-and-fiftieth page, the notary admitted he was already tired…[H]e complained that the deceased, thinking he was drafting his will, had instead written down his memoirs.” Which …

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Podcast: Reading for our times—Reading around the world

Some years ago, a friend and fellow bookworm, Kristine Goulding, suggested on this blog that we read a book from every country in the world. And so the reading challenge was born, with only one rule: the writer has to be from the country. We've taken our time over it, but we are now up …

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Celestial Objects: Jokha Alharthi

Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth Celestial Objects is a novel by Omani writer Jokha Alharthi that won the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. This makes it unusual—there aren’t a lot of books by Omani writers translated into English, and this is the first novel written originally in Arabic to win the prize. The …

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No Place to Call Home—Love, Loss, Belonging: J.J. Bola

“And in the end, we are all looking for the same place: somewhere to call home. Home is somewhere we know, somewhere we trust. … Home is where your heart is, home is where you rest your head, home is where you never feel alone. For me, there is no place to call home; nowhere …

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Beyond the Rice Fields: Naivo

Translated from French by Allison M. Charrette This is the first novel from Madagascar to be translated into English. It tells the story of Rafa, a young woman, and Tsito, the boy her father buys her for a slave. Their relationship is closer than mistress and slave—they are around the same age and they grow …

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Beauty is a Wound: Eka Kurniawan

Translated from Indonesian by Annie Tucker “One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years. … She had passed away at fifty-two, rose again after being dead for twenty-one years, and from that point forward nobody knew exactly how to calculate her age.” This novel …

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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: Olga Tokarczuk

Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones “[S]ometimes I feel we’re living in a world we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t, we draw maps of meanings for ourselves… And then we spend our whole lives struggling with that we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has …

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Frankenstein in Baghdad: Ahmed Sadaawi

Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright Ahmed Sadaawi takes the story of Frankenstein and transposes it to Baghdad in the early 2000s, in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Bombs go off regularly on the streets and people die every day. But not all of them get a decent burial—bits of bodies lie …

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