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International Voices: Fiction Around the World

Read beloved novels by authors who grew up around the world! From stories set everywhere from Thailand to France, find fiction that opens the door to new cultures and universal stories.

  1. 1
    Empty Hearts Book Cover Picture
    Empty Hearts Book Cover Picture

    Empty Hearts

    by Juli Zeh

    A few short years from now, the world is an even more uncertain place than it is today, and politics everywhere is marching rightward. There’s a global financial crisis, armed conflict, and mass migration, and an ultrapopulist movement governs in Germany. Britta, a wife, mother, and successful businesswoman, ignores the daily news and concentrates on her family and her work running a clinic specializing in suicide prevention. Part suspenseful thriller, part wickedly effective social satire, Empty Hearts is a novel for our times, examining urgent questions of morality, politics, and culture and presenting a startling vision of a future where empathy is a thing of the past.
    Empty Hearts Book Cover Picture
    Empty Hearts Book Cover Picture

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  2. 2
    The Memory Police Book Cover Picture
    The Memory Police Book Cover Picture

    The Memory Police

    by Yoko Ogawa

    On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.
    The Memory Police Book Cover Picture
    The Memory Police Book Cover Picture

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  3. 3
    Human Acts Book Cover Picture
    Human Acts Book Cover Picture

    Human Acts

    by Han Kang

    In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed. The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.
    Human Acts Book Cover Picture
    Human Acts Book Cover Picture

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  4. 4
    Stay with Me Book Cover Picture
    Stay with Me Book Cover Picture

    Stay with Me

    by Ayobami Adebayo

    Ilesa, Nigeria. Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage—after consulting fertility doctors and healers, and trying strange teas and unlikely cures—Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time—until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does—but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.
    Stay with Me Book Cover Picture
    Stay with Me Book Cover Picture

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  5. 5
    Killing Commendatore Book Cover Picture
    Killing Commendatore Book Cover Picture

    Killing Commendatore

    by Haruki Murakami

    When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he secludes himself in the mountain home of a world famous artist. One day, the young painter hears a noise from the attic, and upon investigation, he discovers a previously unseen painting. By unearthing this hidden work of art, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances; and to close it, he must undertake a perilous journey into a netherworld that only Haruki Murakami could conjure. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art, Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.
    Killing Commendatore Book Cover Picture
    Killing Commendatore Book Cover Picture

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  6. 6
    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Book Cover Picture
    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Book Cover Picture

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

    by Olga Tokarczuk

    In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate.
    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Book Cover Picture
    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Book Cover Picture

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  7. 7
    Middle England Book Cover Picture
    Middle England Book Cover Picture

    Middle England

    by Jonathan Coe

    Beginning nine years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by chain retail, and London, where both frenzied riots and Olympic fever plague the streets, Middle England tracks a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through the transformation of their society.  There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about England’s future and, possibly, their relationship; Doug, the political commentator who writes impassioned columns about austerity from his Chelsea townhouse while his radical, teenage daughter undertakes a relentless quest for universal justice; Benjamin Trotter, who embarks on an apparently doomed new career in middle age, and his father Colin, whose last wish is to vote LEAVE in the Brexit referendum. Through all these lives we see this very tentatively united kingdom itself: a place of nostalgia and delusion, bewilderment and barely suppressed rage.
    Middle England Book Cover Picture
    Middle England Book Cover Picture

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  8. 8
    Adèle Book Cover Picture
    Adèle Book Cover Picture

    Adèle

    by Leila Slimani

    Adèle appears to have the perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored–and consumed by an insatiable need for sex. Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, Adèle organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she’s been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making. Suspenseful, erotic, and electrically charged, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman’s quest to feel alive.
    Adèle Book Cover Picture
    Adèle Book Cover Picture

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  9. 9
    The Spirit of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture
    The Spirit of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture

    The Spirit of Science Fiction

    by Roberto Bolaño

    Two young poets, Jan and Remo, find themselves adrift in Mexico City. Obsessed with poetry, and, above all, with science fiction, they are eager to forge a life in the literary world–or sacrifice themselves to it. Roberto Bolaño’s The Spirit of Science Fiction is a story of youth hungry for revolution, notoriety, and sexual adventure, as they work to construct a reality out of the fragments of their dreams. But as close as these friends are, the city tugs them in opposite directions. Jan withdraws from the world, shutting himself in their shared rooftop apartment where he feverishly composes fan letters to the stars of science fiction and dreams of cosmonauts and Nazis. Meanwhile, Remo runs headfirst into the future, spending his days and nights with a circle of wild young writers, seeking pleasure in the city’s labyrinthine streets, rundown cafés, and murky bathhouses.
    The Spirit of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture
    The Spirit of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture

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  10. 10
    Exit West Book Cover Picture
    Exit West Book Cover Picture

    Exit West

    by Mohsin Hamid

    In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.
    Exit West Book Cover Picture
    Exit West Book Cover Picture

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  11. 11
    The Windfall Book Cover Picture
    The Windfall Book Cover Picture

    The Windfall

    by Diksha Basu

    The Jhas are moving up. For the past thirty years, their lives have been defined by cramped spaces and gossipy neighbors. But when Mr. Jha comes into an enormous sum of money—the result of an unexpectedly successful internet venture—he moves his reluctant wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, ultimately forcing them, and their son, to reckon with who they are and what really matters to them.  Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and heart the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.
    The Windfall Book Cover Picture
    The Windfall Book Cover Picture

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  12. 12
    Gingerbread Book Cover Picture
    Gingerbread Book Cover Picture

    Gingerbread

    by Helen Oyeyemi

    Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval. Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value.
    Gingerbread Book Cover Picture
    Gingerbread Book Cover Picture

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  13. 13
    The Good Son Book Cover Picture
    The Good Son Book Cover Picture

    The Good Son

    by You-Jeong Jeong

    Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life? Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family.
    The Good Son Book Cover Picture
    The Good Son Book Cover Picture

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  14. 14
    The Boat Rocker Book Cover Picture
    The Boat Rocker Book Cover Picture

    The Boat Rocker

    by Ha Jin

    New York, 2005. Chinese expatriate Feng Danlin is a fiercely principled reporter at a small news agency whose website is read by Chinese all over the world. Danlin’s explosive exposés have made him legendary among readers—and feared by Communist officials. But his newest assignment may be his undoing: investigating his ex-wife, Yan Haili, an unscrupulous novelist who has willingly become a pawn of the Chinese government in order to realize her dreams of literary stardom. Haili’s scheme infuriates Danlin both morally and personally—he will do whatever it takes to expose her as a fraud. But in outing Haili, he is also provoking her powerful political allies, and he will need to draw on all of his journalistic cunning to come out of this investigation with his career—and his life—unscathed. A brilliant, darkly funny story of corruption, integrity, and the power of the pen, The Boat Rocker is a tour de force.
    The Boat Rocker Book Cover Picture
    The Boat Rocker Book Cover Picture

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  15. 15
    North of Dawn Book Cover Picture
    North of Dawn Book Cover Picture

    North of Dawn

    by Nuruddin Farah

    For decades, Gacalo and Mugdi have lived in Oslo, where they’ve led a peaceful, largely assimilated life and raised two children. Their beloved son, Dhaqaneh, however, is driven by feelings of alienation to jihadism in Somalia, where he kills himself in a suicide attack. The couple reluctantly offers a haven to his family. But on arrival in Oslo, their daughter-in-law cloaks herself even more deeply in religion, while her children hunger for the freedoms of their new homeland, a rift that will have lifealtering consequences for the entire family. Set against the backdrop of real events, North of Dawn is a provocative, devastating story of love, loyalty, and national identity that asks whether it is ever possible to escape a legacy of violence–and if so, at what cost.
    North of Dawn Book Cover Picture
    North of Dawn Book Cover Picture

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  16. 16
    Bangkok Wakes to Rain Book Cover Picture
    Bangkok Wakes to Rain Book Cover Picture

    Bangkok Wakes to Rain

    by Pitchaya Sudbanthad

    A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-World War II society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary fate. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the house’s resident spirits. In the present, a young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in a New Krungthep yet to come, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these lives collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself. Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an elegy for what time erases and a love song to all that persists, yearning, into the unknowable future.
    Bangkok Wakes to Rain Book Cover Picture
    Bangkok Wakes to Rain Book Cover Picture

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  17. 17
    The Old Drift Book Cover Picture
    The Old Drift Book Cover Picture

    The Old Drift

    by Namwali Serpell

    1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives—their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes—emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction.
    The Old Drift Book Cover Picture
    The Old Drift Book Cover Picture

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  18. 18
    The Travelling Cat Chronicles Book Cover Picture
    The Travelling Cat Chronicles Book Cover Picture

    The Travelling Cat Chronicles

    by Hiro Arikawa

    An instant international bestseller and indie bestseller, The Travelling Cat Chronicles has charmed readers around the world. With simple yet descriptive prose, this novel gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe. With his crooked tail—a sign of good fortune—and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.
    The Travelling Cat Chronicles Book Cover Picture
    The Travelling Cat Chronicles Book Cover Picture

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  19. 19
    The Dragonfly Sea Book Cover Picture
    The Dragonfly Sea Book Cover Picture

    The Dragonfly Sea

    by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

    On the island of Pate, off the coast of Kenya, lives solitary, stubborn Ayaana and her mother, Munira. When a sailor named Muhidin, also an outsider, enters their lives, Ayaana finds something she has never had before: a father. But as Ayaana grows into adulthood, forces of nature and history begin to reshape her life and the island itself–from a taciturn visitor with a murky past to a sanctuary-seeking religious extremist, from dragonflies to a tsunami, from black-clad kidnappers to cultural emissaries from China. Ayaana ends up embarking on a dramatic ship’s journey to the Far East, where she will discover friends and enemies; be seduced by the charming but unreliable scion of a powerful Turkish business family; reclaim her devotion to the sea; and come to find her own tenuous place amid a landscape of beauty and violence and surprising joy. Told with a glorious lyricism and an unerring sense of compassion, The Dragonfly Sea is a transcendent story of adventure, fraught choices, and of the inexorable need for shelter in a dangerous world.
    The Dragonfly Sea Book Cover Picture
    The Dragonfly Sea Book Cover Picture

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  20. 20
    The Seventh Day Book Cover Picture
    The Seventh Day Book Cover Picture

    The Seventh Day

    by Yu Hua

    Yang Fei was born on a train as it raced across the Chinese countryside. Lost by his mother, adopted by a young switchman, raised with simplicity and love, he is utterly unprepared for the changes that await him and his country. As a young man, he searches for a place to belong in a nation ceaselessly reinventing itself, but he remains on the edges of society. At forty-one, he meets an unceremonious death, and lacking the money for a burial plot, must roam the afterworld aimlessly. There, over the course of seven days, he encounters the souls of people he’s lost. As he retraces the path of his life, we meet an extraordinary cast of characters: his adoptive father, his beautiful ex-wife, his neighbors who perished in the demolition of their homes. Vivid, urgent, and panoramic, Yang Fei’s passage movingly traces the contours of his vast nation—its absurdities, its sorrows, and its soul.
    The Seventh Day Book Cover Picture
    The Seventh Day Book Cover Picture

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  21. 21
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture

    Swing Time

    by Zadie Smith

    Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture

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  22. 22
    Hippie Book Cover Picture
    Hippie Book Cover Picture

    Hippie

    by Paulo Coelho

    Hippie Book Cover Picture
    Hippie Book Cover Picture

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  23. 23
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo Book Cover Picture
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo Book Cover Picture

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo

    by Christy Lefteri

    This unforgettable novel puts human faces on the Syrian war with the immigrant story of a beekeeper, his wife, and the triumph of spirit when the world becomes unrecognizable. Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book for our times: a novel that at once reminds us that the most peaceful and ordinary lives can be utterly upended in unimaginable ways and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo Book Cover Picture
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo Book Cover Picture

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  24. 24
    Song of a Captive Bird Book Cover Picture
    Song of a Captive Bird Book Cover Picture

    Song of a Captive Bird

    by Jasmin Darznik

    A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied society’s expectations to find her voice and her destiny. Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.
    Song of a Captive Bird Book Cover Picture
    Song of a Captive Bird Book Cover Picture

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