Booking Through Thursday – Foreign

Today’s Booking Through Thursday’s question is:

Name a book (or books) that you love from a country other than your own (in my case the UK).

Where to start? There are so many! My choices are books that came to mind today – another day I could choose many other books and other countries.

I think the first one is a book from Switzerland – one  from my childhood. It’s Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I loved this book and the sequels, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children both written by Charles Tritten. It was first published in 1880. Johanna Spyri was born and lived in Switzterland. In the story Heidi goes to live in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather who lives on his own isolated from the other villagers. At first he doesn’t want Heidi there at all but she gradually softens his heart. I haven’t read it for years and would probably find it terribly dated and sentimental, but it lives in my mind as a beautiful book.

Next, a book from the USA – Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. This book won the Pullitzer Prize for fiction in 1972. It is the story of Lyman Ward, a wheelchair bound retired historian who is writing his grandparents’ life history and also gradually reveals his own story. It’s the story set in the wilderness of the American West – of Oliver Ward’s struggles with various mining and engineering construction jobs, contrasted with Susan Ward’s efforts to support him against great difficulties. This is made more difficult when she compares her life with that of her New York society friend, Augusta.

One of the reasons I chose this book is my fascination with the Wild West.

Margaret Atwood is favourite author who is Canadian. Which book to chose? I’ve decided to highlight the first one that I read – The Blind Assassin.

I think it may have been one of the first books I read that contains a story within a story and it’s about writers and readers as well as about the lives of two sisters, one of whom apparently committed suicide.

Another favourite author is the Australian Colleen McCullough. I’ve loved her books – the Rome series – The First Man in Rome and so on. I first came across her books many years ago with the TV series of The Thorn Birds and then read the book, but my favourite has to be Morgan’s Run. This is an historical novel based on the history of Botany Bay centred on the life of Richard Morgan who was transported from Britain to New South Wales. Again it’s my fascination for history that made me enjoy this book so much.

Finally, a book from China. I read A Loyal Character Dancer by Qiu Xiaolong last year and it’s another favourite. Qiu Xiaolong was born in Shanghai and was a member of the Chinese Writers’ Association, publishing poetry, translations and criticism in China. Since 1989 he has lived in the United States, his work being published in many literary magazines and anthologies. His first crime novel, Death of Red Heroine, won the AnthonyAward for Best First Crime Novel. A Loyal Character Dancer is his second book featuring Chief Inspector Chen Cao, of the Shanghai Police Bureau. Apart from the story which is crime fiction there is a lot about China in it – life, the country and the impact of the Cultural Revolution.

14 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday – Foreign

  1. I’m glad you suggested Angle of Repose as it’s just approaching the top of my book pile. I read Crossing to Safety earlier this year and loved it.

    My own suggestions would be, Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry and Illywhacker by Peter Carey. To me, both carry a real essence of their respective countries (India and Australia).


  2. Hi Margaret,
    Like yourself, my starting point is the UK.
    Now you have posed a really difficult question, there are so many great authors out there, from all around the world.
    Selecting individual books is just too much of a tall order, but here are some of the authors that I find irresistible.

    1. Lori Lansens – Canada
    2. Ngaio Marsh – New Zealand
    3. Tess Gerritsen – USA
    4. Colleen McCullough – Australia
    5. Henning Mankell – Sweden


  3. Margaret – Oh, thank you for mentioning Heidi! That was one of my favourite novels when I was a child, and your reminder of it made me smile. One of the things I love about modern technology is that it’s so much easier than it used to be to discover new authors from places I don’t live. Thanks for your other ideas!


  4. Very rarely do I ever start a book, but not finish it. The Blind Assassin is one of maybe 3 or 4 books that I didn’t finish. I didn’t get very far before setting it aside. I’m not sure why, I just couldn’t get into it. I definitely plan on giving it another try!!


  5. This is an interesting question–I’m an American but I read so much lit from the UK that I can’t really count that as “foreign.”

    I guess I would have to go with Anna Karenina from Russia.

    I also like McCullough’s novels (I read most of her Rome series and Morgan’s Run was fascinating) until she came out with her Mary Bennet book, which as just awful.

    I still haven’t read Angle of Repose, but someday…someday!

    Heidi is an interesting choice–I reread it when I got it for my daughter and was surprised at how much I liked it as an adult. It is dated, but it is also well-written.


  6. Margaret Atwood is always on the periphery of my reading list, but I’m so glad that you mentioned her because it reminds me to go read one of her books! I’ll definitely have to start with The Blind Assassin. Thanks for the recommendation =)


  7. Oh the mention of Heidi, and Heidi Grows Up, and Heidi’s Children really brought back memories. My mom handed down her copies from when she was a child to me and I have since passed them along. They were my favorite books as a child 🙂


  8. I loved Heidi as a child but I wasn’t aware that there were other books in the series. I will have to look out for them.
    I am fascinated by the American West too and loved Children on the Oregon Trail about a 13 year old boy who has to look after his six younger siblings when his parents die on the long trail between Missouri and Oregon, when I was growing up so that would have to be on my list as would Lonesome Dove, another brilliant depiction of the West.
    Otherwise my list would include:
    The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Canada)
    The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri (Italy)
    The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (Norway)


  9. Recently I went through my childhood books to donate some of them (trying to downsize, you know) and one of the few I just could not part with was Heidi. I read and reread that book as a girl.


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