Often I find that the majority of books I read are by classic Western authors who are no longer living. In fact, it is a resolution of mine this year to read more contemporary books by international authors in order to broaden my perspective. And in case you’re hoping to accomplish the same goal and expand your breadth of literature this year, I think I have just what you’re looking for.
From conscious eating in India to inspiring and empowering poems from Thailand, here are five international authors with new releases to read this year if you’re planning on increasing your perspective.
1. The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure, Shoba Narayan
Synopsis: In this charming true story about two women and the animal they share, readers are treated to an insider’s of view of India. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is also a window into our universal connection to food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship to all animals.
Why pick it up? On the surface, many people might not think twice about the cows that provide us the milk we drink on a daily basis. However, award-winning author and columnist Shoba Narayan’s latest book, The Milk Lady of Bangalore, explores the author’s return to Bangalore, India, where she befriends a local milk lady. Not only will readers learn about the importance of cows in Indian culture through this book but also the importance of establishing a relationship with your food source.
2. Heartland, Ana Simo
Synopsis: In the all-too-terrifyingly-familiar America of Heartland, the inconceivable has become ordinary: corruption and greed at the top have led to mass starvation in the heartland; hordes of refugees have escaped from resettlement camps and attack the cities; a puritanical Caliphate has toppled Constantinople, with America in its sights. Meanwhile, escaping her New York life in disguise, our heroine lures McCabe to her home turf: a hilltop house in the Great Plains where her parents worked as domestic servants. Her nemesis, though, is slippery, and McCabe disappears, threatening to ruin a homicidal masterplan so detailed as to be akin to love.
Why pick it up? In this blend of dystopian satire and pulp noir, Ana Simo shares her personal LGBTQ experiences abroad to life in her debut novel, Heartland. Though it is set in the dystopian United States, Simo’s real-life immigration to France from Cuba’s political and homophobic witch-hunts of the 1960s to finally settling in New York set the elements in motion for this comical yet enlightening novel that confronts race, sex, and assimilation.
3. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, Masaji Ishikawa, Risa Kobayashi (Translator), Martin Brown (Translator)
Synopsis: In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.
Why pick it up? From the outside, it is easy for Westerners to look upon North Korea with candid humor. Comedy is, after all, one medium in which people can cope and allow change to begin. However, between President Donald Trump’s references to the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man,” and Seth Rogen and James Franco’s 2014 comedy The Interview, sometimes parody can distract from, and lessen, the realities that people face. In Masaji Ishikawa’s first-hand experience of life in North Korea, he provides a dark and sobering perspective of life for North Koreans.
4. The Perfect Nanny, Leïla Slimani
Synopsis: When Myriam, a mother, and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.
Why pick it up? French writer and native Moroccan Leïla Slimani immediately pull readers into her psychological thriller as it opens with the death of two children at the hands of their seemingly perfect nanny. The rest of the story then sets itself in reverse, backtracking through all the details leading up to the events that happen in the opening chapter. At only 256 pages, I can attest that readers won’t be able to put this short pageturner down once they’ve started.
5. Sea of Strangers, Lang Leav
Synopsis: This completely original collection of poetry and prose will not only delight her avid fans but is sure to capture the imagination of a whole new audience. With the turn of every page, Sea of Strangers invites you to go beyond love and loss to explore themes of self-discovery and empowerment as you navigate your way around the human heart.
Why pick it up? In her fourth collection of poems, international bestselling author Lang Leav offers readers her personal and private perspective on the universal feelings we appreciate her for: love, loss, healing, and self-discovery through simple, yet thoughtful, poetry. Told through the recurring theme of water, readers will find themselves absorbing every flash of Leav’s refreshing style.