Today's topic at The Broke and the Bookish asks us to list our favourite books that take place outside of the United States. When I looked through my recent reads, I found that the majority were not set in the US, probably because I read a lot of classical British lit as well as Canadian literature, but it's an interesting topic anyway. I limited myself further by looking only at the last two years of my reading, and also not using classics (since most of the ones I like are set in the UK) and nothing set in a fantasy realm or other planets.
1. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. Setting: Russia (St. Petersburg, Siberia, Chechnya). I just finished this recently and it's probably my favourite book of the year. It is a series of connected short stories that made me think and laugh and gasp at the beautiful language.
2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Setting: Barcelona, Spain. A mysterious page-turner with intriguing characters and also beautifully written (though I'm sure it's even better in the original Spanish).
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Setting: Nazi Germany. The moving story of a young girl taken in by a foster family in the 1930s who discovers a love for books and also befriends the Jewish man who is later hidden in their basement.
4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Setting: Wartime Britain and France. It's hard to fully describe this story of an unlikely friendship without giving away too many details. Suffice it say that I was blown away by the intricacies and the way it all worked together in the end.
5. The Passion by Jeannette Winterson. Setting: Venice, France, and the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. It's hard to describe this short book with it's intriguing characters and fantastical elements, but I couldn't put it down.
6. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Setting: Occupied Poland, Germany, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel with its four complex narrators telling the story of the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II. (Hmmm, I guess I'm reading a lot of books set in WWII recently!)
7. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Setting: England. Okay, so this is set in an alternate UK where magic is real, but it's a wonderful and gripping novel about a power struggle between two magicians and how the magic returned to England.
8. The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis. Setting Ukraine and Israel. An Israeli politician sneaks off with his girlfriend to his birthplace of Crimea to escape a political scandal. There are so many levels in this novel. I loved it.
9. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. Setting Huron lands in what is today Ontario, Canada. This is a gripping novel about the interactions between the Huron, the Iroquois, and the French in the early years of colonization.
10. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. Setting: Wartime Malaya and Australia. I didn't love this book as there were elements that I found annoying, but I enjoyed learning about post-WWII Australia and the description of wartime Malaya was fascinating and heartbreaking.