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Independent Novel Choices. Kite Runner. Middle Eastern Culture

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kite runner
Kite Runner
  • Middle Eastern Culture
  • Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner[tells] of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara -- a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.
  • The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons -- their love, their sacrifices, and their lies.
a thousand splendid suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns,
  • Middle Eastern Culture
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years -- from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding -- that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives -- the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness -- are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
  • Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love -- a stunning accomplishment.
and the mountains echoed
And the Mountains Echoed,
  • Middle Eastern Culture
  • KhaledHosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
love in the time of cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera
  • South American Culture
  • In their youth, FlorentinoAriza and FerminaDaza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
100 years of solitude
100 Years of Solitude,
  • South American Culture
  • The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.
  • Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility -- the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth -- these universal themes dominate the novel.
  • Alternately reverential and comical, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves the political, personal, and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. Translated into dozens of languages, this stunning work is no less than an accounting of the history of the human race.
in the time of butterflies julia alverez
In the Time of Butterflies, Julia Alverez
  • Latin American culture
  • Julia Alvarez's eagerly awaited second novel is a powerful story of courage, innocence, and political martyrdom in the Hispanic Caribbean. Based on actual events--the death of three sisters on November 25, 1960--the novel immerses us in an epoch in the life of the Dominican Republic. The "Butterflies," as they were known, lived daringly and dangerously under a regime that imprisoned, tortured, and killed with impunity.
house of spirits
House of Spirits
  • Latin American culture
  • In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.
the good earth
The Good Earth

Chinese Culture

Wang Lung, rising from humble Chinese farmer to wealthy landowner, gloried in the soil he worked. He held it above his family, even above his gods. But soon, between Wang Lung and the kindly soil that sustained him, came flood and drought, pestilence and revolution....

Through this one Chinese peasant and his children, Nobel Prize-winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life, its terrors, its passion, its persistent ambitions and its rewards. Her brilliant novel—beloved by millions of readers throughout the world—is a universal tale of the destiny of men.

the bonesetter s daughter
The Bonesetter’s Daughter
  • Chinese Culture
  • Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is unearthed, The Bonesetter's Daughter is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes. This is the story of LuLing Young, who searches for the name of her mother, the daughter of the famous Bonesetter from the Mouth of the Mountain. The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief.
the joy luck club
The Joy Luck Club
  • Chinese Culture
  • Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.
  • With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.
snow flower and the secret fan
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
  • Chinese Culture
  • Lily is haunted by memories–of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.
memoirs of a geisha
Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Japanese Culture
  • An epic on an intimate scale, Memoirs of a Geisha takes the reader behind the rice-paper screens of the geisha house to a vanished floating world of beauty and cruelty, from a poor fishing village in 1929 to the decadence of 1940s Kyoto, through the chaos of World War II to the towers of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where the gray-eyed geisha Sayuri unfolds the remarkable story of her life.  
kafka on the shore
Kafka on the Shore
  • Japanese Culture
  • Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.
cry the beloved country
Cry the Beloved Country

South African culture

The most famous and important novel in South Africa's history, and an immediate worldwide bestseller when it was published in 1948, Alan Paton's impassioned novel about a black man's country under white man's law is a work of searing beauty.

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people driven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

poisonwood bible
Poisonwood Bible
  • African Culture
  • T he Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
things fall apart
Things Fall Apart
  • African Culture
  • The 1958 novel chronicles the life of Okonkwo, the leader of an Igbo (Ibo) community, from the events leading up to his banishment from the community for accidentally killing a clansman, through the seven years of his exile, to his return. Addresses the problem of the intrusion in the 1890s of white missionaries and colonial government into tribal Igbo society, and describes the simultaneous disintegration of its protagonist Okonkwo and of his village. The novel was praised for its intelligent and realistic treatment of tribal beliefs and of psychological disintegration coincident with social unraveling. Things Fall Apart helped create the Nigerian literary renaissance of the 1960s.
the namesake
The Namesake
  • Indian Culture
  • In her poignant and tightly woven first novel, JhumpaLahiri brilliantly expands on the themes she explored in her prize-winning debut collection: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and the relationships between generations.
  • Ashima and AshokeGanguli arrive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their arranged marriage in Calcutta. An engineering student, Ashoke enters American culture with an open mind. His young bride is far less accepting. Isolated, pining for her family, she will never make peace with this new world. When their first child is born, his name is to be bestowed, according to custom, by the couple's elders. But word from India never arrives, and they must decide for themselves. On a train trip in India years earlier, Ashoke had stayed up past midnight to finish a book by his favorite Russian writer, Nikolai Gogol. Disastrously, the train derailed; Ashoke was one of the few survivors. His son will bear the name of the author who saved his life.
  • Yet Gogol Ganguli will grow to feel only resentment toward his name and all that it represents. He resists his parents' fealty to Indian customs and culture, struggling to define himself on his own terms. As a young man, he drifts into romances with women altogether unlike his sari-clad mother -- until he meets an Indian-American woman on a date arranged by their parents. That relationship will prove crucial, bringing Gogol back to his family and his heritage in entirely unexpected ways.
cracking india
Cracking India
  • Indian Culture
  • The 1947 Partition of India is the backdrop for this powerful novel, narrated by a precocious child who describes the brutal transition with chilling veracity. Young Lenny Sethi is kept out of school because she suffers from polio. She spends her days with Ayah, her beautiful nanny, visiting with the large group of admirers that Ayah draws. It is in the company of these working class characters that Lenny learns about religious differences, religious intolerance, and the blossoming genocidal strife on the eve of Partition. As she matures, Lenny begins to identify the differences between the Hindus, Moslems, and Sikhs engaging in political arguments all around her. Lenny enjoys a happy, privileged life in Lahore, but the kidnapping of her beloved Ayah signals a dramatic change. Soon Lenny’s world erupts in religious, ethnic, and racial violence. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the domestic drama serves as a microcosm for a profound political upheaval.
white tiger
White Tiger
  • Indian Culture
  • A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright’s NativeSon, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society. “This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you've never heard it before” (John Burdett, Bangkok 8).The white tiger of this novel is BalramHalwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.Recalling The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, The White Tiger is narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation—and a startling, provocative debut