* Talk about books that are set outside of the Western World (so outside of North America and Western Europe) or if they are SFF, books that aren’t inspired by those places (so no medieval setting fantasy!) *
Sadly, I’ll have to cheat a little bit in this one… And I say sadly because it’s quite embarrasing that I’ve read so little books that are not set in the Western World. This has to change! So, since some of these books are not entirely set outside of the Western World, I decided to make a list of more than five books. Actually, I made a list of five and then an additional list of three fantasy books or books with fantastical elements that aren’t set in our world, but are inspired by a non-Western country. Here are my picks:
Books set in the real world
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is quite a cheat since most of the book is set in the US, but part of it is also set in Nigeria. It also speaks about race and being a black woman in the Western World, so I think it is an important read.
2. Honour by Elif Shafak
Another book that doesn’t quite fit the theme, but parts of this book are set in rural Turkey. It also speaks about immigration and being treated as “The Other”, but it also speaks about the problems people face in rural Turkey, about religious fanaticism and how easily it can be spread. It’s a powerful, painful read with no idolisation. And Shafak’s writing style is beautiful. I can’t wait to read another book by her.
3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic novel is not entirely set in Iran, because it too deals with immigration. I learned a lot from it, and I highy recommend it to everyone.
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This book is absolutely wonderful! And so sad. It deals of two Afghan women whose lifes get intertwined. As Hosseini himself said, it’s a tribute to all the Afghan women who suffered so much. Just go and read it!
5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
This book is so different and mystical that it almost feels like it sould belong to the fantasy category. It’s an interesting portrayal of South Korean society, and a story of a woman’s desire to find herself despite the said society and it’s norms.
Books set in a fantasy world or with fantastical elements
1. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids is a stand alone novel within Terry Pretchett’s Discworld series, and it is mostlx set in Ankh-Morpork, a land which is inspired by Ancient Egypt. Terry Pratchett’s books are fun and clever, and this one is no exception.
2. Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley
This book is set in the real Ancient Egypt, with the addition of some supernatural elements. Queen of Kings is a bit strange, but I liked it, though to be honest I’ve read it a long time ago so who knows what I would think of it now. XD In the book, Cleopatra doesn’t kill herself but instead makes a deal with goddess Sekhmet who then possesses her body. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but interesting.
3. Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
While the main character on these fantasy novels is from a country based on Victorian England, in each book she travels to a different part of the world. For example, in the Tropic of Serpents she travels to places based on African countries, later on she travels to places based on The Middle East etc. The books also touch upon the subject of colonisation, which is something I was very happy to find in books about dragons.
What are some of your favourite books that are not set in the Western World? I’d really appreciate your recommendations! 🙂