Around the world in 80 books: week 7

world map with ten countries highlighted with pins

 

Welcome to week 7 of Tower Road Branch's world tour: Around the World in 80 Books! Over the course of 8 weeks I'll be recommending 80 books set in 80 different places around the globe. All the locations included in our journey will be chosen completely at random using the random country generator from randomlists.com.

 

Where will fate take us next? 

 

If you missed the first six weeks of our tour, check them out here: 

Week 1  |  Week 5

Week 2  |  Week 6

Week 3

Week 4

 

Otherwise, let's jump right in and head over to.....

 

Image of a plane flying from Latvia to Somalia

 

 

Somalia  Flag of Somalia

 

The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed [2013]

The Orchard of Lost Souls cover artThe eagerly awaited new novel from the author of the acclaimed Orange-longlisted Black Mamba Boy.

It is 1988 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall.

Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp she was born in, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes.

Kawsar, a solitary widow, is trapped in her little house with its garden clawed from the desert, confined to her bed after a savage beating in the local police station.

Filsan, a young female soldier, has moved from Mogadishu to suppress the rebellion growing in the north.

And as the country is unravelled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of the three women are twisted irrevocably together.

Intimate, frank, brimming with beauty and fierce love, The Orchard of Lost Souls is an unforgettable account of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary times.

 

Learn more about Somalia |  Find more resources on Somalia

 

 

 

Image of a train driving from Somalia to Egypt

 

 

Egypt  Flag of Egypt

 

The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany [2021]

The Republic of False Truths cover artGeneral Alwany is a pious man who loves his family. He also tortures and kills enemies of the state.

Under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is gripped by cronyism, religious hypocrisy, and the oppressive military. Now, however, the regime faces its greatest crisis. The idealistic young from different backgrounds - engineers, teachers, medical students, and among them the general's daughter - have come together to challenge the status quo. Euphoria mounts as Mubarak is toppled and love blossoms across class divides, but the general and his friends mount a devastating counter-attack.

 

Learn more about Egypt  |  Find more resources on Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Egypt to Ireland

 

 

Ireland Flag of Ireland

 

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue [2020]

The Pull of the Stars cover artIn an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

 

Learn more about Ireland  |  Find more resources on Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Ireland to Zimbabwe

 

 

Zimbabwe  Flag of Zimbabwe

 

House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma [2018]

House of Stone cover artPulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a masterful debut that explores the creative - and often destructive - act of history-making. 

In the chronic turmoil of modern Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo's teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing, and the Mlambos fear the worst. Their enigmatic lodger, Zamani, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. Since Bukhosi's disappearance, Zamani has been preternaturally helpful: hanging missing posters in downtown Bulawayo, handing out fliers to passersby, and joining in family prayer vigils with the flamboyant Reverend Pastor from Agnes's Blessed Anointings church. It's almost like Zamani is part of the family....

But almost isn't nearly enough for Zamani. He ingratiates himself with Agnes and feeds alcoholic Abednego's addiction, desperate to extract their life stories and steep himself in borrowed family history, as keenly aware as any colonialist or power-mad despot that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future. As Abednego wrestles with the ghosts of his past and Agnes seeks solace in a deep-rooted love, their histories converge and each must confront the past to find their place in a new Zimbabwe. 

Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a sweeping epic that spans the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe's turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a young nation seeking an identity, but built on forgetting.

 

Learn more about Zimbabwe  |  Find more resources on Zimbabwe

 

 

 

Image of a car driving from Zimbabwe to Eswatini

 

 

Eswatini (Swaziland) Flag of Eswatini

 

When the Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn [2019]

When the Ground Is Hard cover artIn this stunning and heartrending tale set in a Swaziland boarding school, two girls of different castes bond over a shared copy of Jane Eyre.

Adele Joubert loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school is going to be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn't pray and defies teachers' orders. 

But as they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie's gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and Lottie learns to be a little sweeter. Together, they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. Then a boy goes missing on campus and Adele and Lottie must rely on each other to solve the mystery and maybe learn the true meaning of friendship.

 

Learn more about Eswatini  |  Find more resources on Eswatini

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a boat sailing from Eswatini to Singapore

 

 

Singapore  Flag of Singapore

 

The Frangipani Tree Mystery (Crown Colony #1) by Ovidia Yu [2017]

The Frangipani Tree Mystery cover artFirst in a delightfully charming crime series set in 1930s Singapore, introducing amateur sleuth SuLin, a local girl stepping in as governess for the Acting Governor of Singapore.

1936 in the Crown Colony of Singapore, and the British abdication crisis and rising Japanese threat seem very far away. When the Irish nanny looking after Acting Governor Palin's daughter dies suddenly - and in mysterious circumstances - mission school-educated local girl SuLin - an aspiring journalist trying to escape an arranged marriage - is invited to take her place.

But then another murder at the residence occurs and it seems very likely that a killer is stalking the corridors of Government House. It now takes all SuLin's traditional skills and intelligence to help British-born Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy solve the murders - and escape with her own life.

 

Learn more about Singapore  |  Find more resources on Singapore

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Singapore to Turkey

 

 

Turkey  Flag of Turkey

 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak [2019]

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World cover artAn intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour

'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

 

Learn more about Turkey  |  Find more resources on Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Turkey to Australia

 

 

Australia  Flag of Australia

 

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko [2020]

Too Much Lip cover artA dark and funny new novel from the multi-award-winning author of Mullumbimby. Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things - her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she's an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble - but then trouble is Kerry's middle name. Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where none seems possible.

 

Learn more about Australia  |  Find more resources on Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Australia to Nepal

 

 

Nepal  Flag of Nepal

 

Buddha's Orphans by Samrat Upadhyay [2010]

Buddha's Orphans cover artCalled “a Buddhist Chekhov” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Samrat Upadhyay’s writing has been praised by Amitav Ghosh and Suketu Mehta, and compared with the work of Akhil Sharma and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Upadhyay’s new novel, Buddha’s Orphans, uses Nepal’s political upheavals of the past century as a backdrop to the story of an orphan boy, Raja, and the girl he is fated to love, Nilu, a daughter of privilege. Their love story scandalizes both families and takes readers through time and across the globe, through the loss of and search for children, and through several generations, hinting that perhaps old bends can, in fact, be righted in future branches of a family tree.

Buddha’s Orphans is a novel permeated with the sense of how we are irreparably connected to the mothers who birthed us and of the way events of the past, even those we are ignorant of, inevitably haunt the present. But most of all it is an engrossing, unconventional love story and a seductive
and transporting read.

 

Learn more about Nepal  |  Find more resources on Nepal

 

 

 

 

Image of a plane flying from Nepal to Taiwan

 

 

Taiwan  Flag of Taiwan

 

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan [2016]

Green Island cover artA stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century.

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community — conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family — the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.

As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?

 

Learn more about Taiwan  |  Find more resources on Taiwan

 

 

 

Where to next? Find out in Around the World in 80 Books: Week 8!

 

Flag of Somalia  Flag of Egypt  Flag of Ireland  Flag of Zimbabwe  Flag of Eswatini  Flag of Singapore  Flag of Turkey  Flag of Australia  Flag of Nepal  Flag of Taiwan