With Trump spouting his “America First” nonsense, I’ve thought about how much I love numerous fictional works written by authors from countries other than the United States.
Many of those books — in addition to being compelling and entertaining — open our minds, teach us about the differences between various cultures, and also teach us how people everywhere share similarities: love of family, the desire to be happy, dealing with life’s difficulties, etc.
So, while I usually avoid lists, I’m going to list some (but by no means all) of my favorite novels and short stories by writers from non-American countries. (Novels in italics, stories in quotes.) Then I’ll ask for some of your favorites. The countries are listed alphabetically, and the writers listed next to them were either born there and/or spent much of their lives there and/or are often associated with that nation.
Argentina: “The Aleph” by Jorge Luis Borges.
Australia: Shogun (James Clavell). On the Beach (Nevil Shute). Grand Days (Frank Moorhouse).
Canada: The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood). Anne of Green Gables, The Blue Castle, and the Emily trilogy (L.M. Montgomery).
Chile: The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende).
Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
England: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë). Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot). Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield (Charles Dickens). The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins). The Last Man (Mary Shelley). Possession (A.S. Byatt). White Teeth (Zadie Smith). The Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling). The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien). (What can I say — I majored in English. 🙂 )
France: Germinal and The Drinking Den (Emile Zola), Old Goriot and Eugenie Grandet (Honoré de Balzac). The Vagabond and Claudine at School (Colette). The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas). The Plague (Albert Camus). Candide (Voltaire). (What can I say — my wife is a French professor. 🙂 )
Germany: The Night in Lisbon, Arch of Triumph, All Quiet on the Western Front, and A Time to Love and a Time to Die (Erich Maria Remarque).
India: The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy).
Ireland: “The Dead” (James Joyce). “The Canterville Ghost” (Oscar Wilde). Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift). Dracula (Bram Stoker).
Italy: History (Elsa Morante). The Leopard (Giuseppe di Lampedusa). The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco).
New Zealand: The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton). Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room (Janet Frame).
Nigeria: The Interpreters (Wole Soyinka).
Russia: Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoyevsky). The Kreutzer Sonata (Leo Tolstoy). (Heck, Trump adores Russia’s authoritarian leader — wonder if the U.S. prez ever read any lit from that country? Probably not…)
Scotland: The Heart of Midlothian and Old Mortality (Sir Walter Scott). Weir of Hermiston (Robert Louis Stevenson).
Spain: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes).
Sweden: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the other two Millennium Trilogy books (Stieg Larsson).
What are some of your favorite fictional works from other countries? (You can of course also name nations I didn’t list.) And if you’re a commenter from outside the U.S., please feel free to include favorite works by American authors among your mentions.
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My new book Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia will be published soon.
But I’m still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.