It’s so easy to fall into our own culture without looking outside ourselves and finding the places and the stories that exist outside out own continent. I think movies like Black Panther are important in that way – praising the beauty of people rarely seen and reminding us that there’s a greater world outside our front door… and we are all one people.
Before I write any more of this post, I want to apologize for the whiteness of all these characters. The beauty of writing an internationally inspired Top Ten is that we have the opportunity to showcase various cultures. Looking at my own bookshelf, the novels I have with POC leads are based in the United States – mostly in the south. I don’t have a single book based in Asia, Africa, or South America (that I could find) and that needs to change.
So I will present you with some of the internationally set books I have, with the knowledge and full admittance that I need to do better.
by Mary Shelly
Location: Switzerland and Germany
Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
by Michael Crichton
Location: Isla Nublar
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now, one of mankind’s most thrilling fantasies has come true. Creatures extinct for eons now roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them — for a price.
Until something goes wrong…
by Eoin Colfer
Who is Artemis Fowl? A genius. A criminal mastermind. A millionaire. And he is not twelve years old. Yet crafty as he is, Artemis may have met his match in Captain Holly Short, and elf from the LEPrecon Special Forces, when he plots to steal the richest treasure the world has ever known- the timeless treasure of the fairies!
The Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
Filled with the spectacle of the Paris Opera House in the nineteenth century, this classic work of mystery and suspense remains a riveting journey into the dark regions of the human heart. The tale begins as an investigation into the strange stories of an “opera ghost,” legendary for making the performers at this great Paris art emporium apprehensive when they sit alone in their dressing rooms or walk alone in the building’s labyrinthine corridors. Some even think they’ve seen the ghost in evening clothes moving in the shadows. But it isn’t until the triumphant performance of the Beautiful Christine Daaé that the Phantom of the Opera begins his attacks — striking terror in the hearts of everyone in the theater.
by Bram Stoker
Location: United Kingdom, Romania, and Hungary
Jonathan Harker is travelling to Castle Dracula to see the Transylvanian noble, Count Dracula. He is begged by locals not to go there, because on the eve of St George’s Day, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will come full sway. But business must be done, so Jonathan makes his way to the Castle – and then his nightmare begins. His beloved wife Mina and other lost souls have fallen under the Count’s horrifying spell. Dracula must be destroyed . . .
Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing boasts one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines, most dancing wordplay, and the endearing spectacle of intellectual and social self-importance bested by the desire to love and be loved in return. It offers both the dancing wit of the “merry war” between the sexes, and a sobering vision of the costs of that combat for both men and women. Shakespeare dramatizes a social world in all of its vibrant particulars, in which characters are shaped by the relations between social convention and individual choice.
Location: Denmark and Sweden
Beowulf is the earliest extant poem in a modern European language. It was composed in England four centuries before the Norman Conquest. As a social document this great epic poem is invaluable- reflecting a feudal, newly Christian world of heroes and monsters, blood and victory, life and death. As a work of art it is quite unique; Beowulf rings with a beaut, power, and artistry that have kept it alive for more than twelve centuries.
The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant
Location: Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.
Told in Dinah’s voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.
The Ring of Solomon
by Jonathan Stroud
It is 950 B.C.E., and King Solomon rules Jerusalem with a steely hand; a hand on which gleams a magic ring of immense and unforgiving power. Solomon has just begun work on his marvelous temple, charging Khaba, a formidable magician in his royal court, to oversee its construction. The workforce is an ill-behaved bunch of demons, a particularly unruly djinni named Bartimaeus among them. True to form, Bartimaeus promptly gets kicked off the temple project and assigned the even more miserable task of hunting bandits in the desert. There he crosses paths with Asmira, a highly skilled and loyal captain of the Queen of Sheba’s guard, on a suicidal mission to save her country from Solomon’s imminent attack. Of course, Bartimaeus has no intention of helping her. That is, until Asmira makes him an offer he cannot refuse. . .
by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt was:
Books That Take Place In Another Country
I actually had some difficulty locating books that were neither set in a fantasy world nor the United States. Classics were the only reason I was able to get a full ten here… it was an eye opener, because I hadn’t realized how white-washed my non-fantasy was. It’s good, though! Because knowing is the first step to change.
Are any of your favorite books set outside your home country?
What is your favorite book setting?
Who is your favorite international author?