The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Thi Bui)
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam.
“A book to break your heart and heal it” – Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Díaz)
The novel is set in New Jersey and deals with the Dominican Republic experience under dictator Rafael Trujillo. The book chronicles both the life of Oscar de León, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as a curse that has plagued his family for generations.
“Díaz succeeds in coupling the book’s interest in genre to the creolisation he values in Caribbean culture.” – The Guardian
Murambi, The Book of Bones (Rwanda: ècrire par devoir de mémoire, translated by Fiona McLughlin) (Boubacar Boris Diop)
In April of 1994, nearly a million Rwandans were killed in what would prove to be one of the swiftest, most terrifying killing sprees of the 20th century. In Murambi, The Book of Bones, Boubacar Boris Diop comes face to face with the chilling horror and overwhelming sadness of the tragedy.
“A powerful contribution to the literature of the Rwandan genocide” – Kirkus Reviews
Happiness (Aminatta Forna)
London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide–Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection.
“Nature meets London in all its multilayered glory in Forna’s vivid portrait of marginalised people” – The Guardian
Sea of Poppies (Amitav Ghosh)
The main characters include Deeti, an ordinary village woman, an “octoroon” American sailor named Zachary Reid, an Indian rajah / zamindar called Neel Rattan Halder, and Benjamin Burnham, an evangelist opium trader, set prior to the First Opium War, on the banks of the holy river Ganges and in Calcutta.
We wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (Philip Gourevitch)
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda is a 1998 non-fiction book by The New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 1,000,000 Tutsis and Hutus were killed.
“Prescient, unabashedly lyrical and not afraid to hand out blame, Gourevitch’s study of the Rwandan genocide remains a pinnacle of war writing two decades on” – The Guardian
Red Birds (Mohammed Hanif)
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn’t what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it’s an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home.
“The ugliness of war is brilliantly captured in this wildly original novel narrated by a teenage refugee and a philosopher-dog” – The Guardian
The Book of Night Women (Marlon James)
The story follows Lilith, a young woman born into slavery, who challenges the boundaries of what is expected of her.
“Writing in the spirit of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker but in a style all his own, James has conducted an experiment in how to write the unspeakable — even the unthinkable. And the results of that experiment are an undeniable success.” – The Los Angeles Times
The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison)
The novel takes place in Lorain, Ohio (Morrison’s hometown), and tells the story of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression. Set in 1941, the story tells that due to her mannerisms and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as “ugly”.
“Toni Morrison has not written a story really, but a series of painfully accurate impressions.” – Ruby Dee
The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen)
The Sympathizer follows a nameless spy who has infiltrated the South Vietnamese army and flees with its remnants to America. His mission: report on their efforts to continue their lost war.
“[…] surely a new classic of war fiction” which is “startlingly insightful and perilously candid” – The Washington Post
Anil’s Ghost (Michael Ondatjee)
Anil’s Ghost follows the life of Anil Tissera, a native Sri Lankan who left to study in Britain and then the United States on a scholarship, during which time she has become a forensic pathologist. She returns to Sri Lanka in the midst of its merciless civil war as part of a human rights investigation by the United Nations.
“More effective than a documentary, Ondaatje’s novel satisfies one of the most exalted purposes of fiction: to illuminate the human condition through pity and terror. It may well be the capstone of his career” – Publishing Weekly
There, There (Tommy Orang)
There, There opens with an essay by Orange as a prologue, and then proceeds to follow a large cast of Native Americans living in the area of Oakland, California, as they struggle with a wide array of challenges, all uniting at a community pow wow and its attempted robbery.
“[The novel] should probably be on reading lists for every creative writing program in this country” – The Globe and Mail
In the Shadow of the Banyan (Vaddy Ratner)
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus.
“Ratner has written something different and rather remarkable. Her book is based on her own experiences (and knowing that, one shudders at what she underwent), but draws on them as opposed to recounting them.”
Palestine (Joe Sacco)
Palestine is a non-fiction graphic novel written and drawn by Joe Sacco about his experiences in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in December 1991 and January 1992. Sacco’s portrayal of the situation emphasizes the history and plight of the Palestinian people, as a group and as individuals.
Home Fire (Kamila Shamsie)
Home Fire reimagines Sophocles’s play Antigone unfolding among British Muslims. The novel follows the Pasha family: twin siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz and their older sister Isma, who has raised them in the seven years since the siblings were orphaned by the death of their mother; their jihadi father, whom the twins never knew, is also dead.
“(The novel) blazes with the kind of annihilating devastation that transcends grief.” – The Washington Post