What better time is there to unwind with a book than the summertime? Whether you are tanning on the beach with a romance novel or curled up on the couch with a mystery thriller during a summer nighttime thunderstorm, summer is the perfect time to read. Our staff at WAC has a few suggestions for the best books – both fiction and non-fiction – with an international twist. Leave a comment with a book you’d like to recommend to us and the other members!
Amanda Jolly, intern:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, is the story of a Dominican boy’s ill-destined life growing up in New Jersey, overweight and socially hopeless. The novel intersperses chapters of Oscar’s life with the narrative of his family’s past in the Dominican Republic under the reign of Trujillo, and the tale of the ever-present fukú, a curse passed down through the generations. Oscar Wao has humor, tragedy, compelling historical and cultural settings, and characters that aren’t quick to leave you. (It’s also the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction!)
Elyse Inguanti, intern:
The Tenth Parallel, by Eliza Griswold. This book gives a gripping and readable account of the tension between Christianity and Islam in countries inAfrica andAsia, along the tenth parallel north latitude line. Griswold, the daughter of an American pastor, shows how religion has been used to escalate and influence geopolitical, resource, and political issues—she delivers this global issue to readers in a personal and narrative way that will make you want to read until the very end.
Emily Esposito, Program and Membership Assistant:
Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, by Jimmy Carter. I just started reading Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, by President Jimmy Carter. Former President Carter gives a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, having been a direct player in the negotiation process during his presidency. The book provides the historical, political, and religious background necessary for understanding the conflict while simultaneously providing a first-hand narrative of the conflict and peace process inPalestine.
Eve Pech, Director of Educational Programs:
Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See. In this novel, See describes the lives of two sisters,Pearl and May, and their glamorous existences in exciting 1930’sShanghai. Their lives get turned around when their father loses his fortune and they are forced to be traded to men fromCalifornia, and then move toLos Angeles. See depicts the emotional and psychological journeys of identity, tradition, and character in this engrossing novel.
Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See. This is Time magazine’s summer reading choice for 2011. See’s 2009 novel, Shanghai Girls, introduced us toPearl and May, sisters who traveled from the turbulentChina of the 1930s to the strange and scarcely less turbulent city ofLos Angeles. This sequel adds to the mixPearl’s 19-year-old daughter Joy, who makes the trip the other way — back to communistChina in search of her father. (From TIME.com)
Felicity Harley, Executive Director:
The Hungry Tide, by Amitav Ghosh. This novel weaves the lives of three very different characters into an engrossing tale of adventure, set in and around theSundarbanIslands off the east coast ofIndia, in theBay of Bengal. A young marine biologist, Piyali Roy– fiercely American but of Indian descent– Fokir, an illiterate fisherman, and Delhi businessman-turned-translator Kanai Dutt discover and battle the personal challenges of identity and love within the political turmoil of the Sundarbans. I was completely caught up in the adventurous spirit and intricacies of this wonderful story—I highly recommend it! This novel, published in 2005, won the 2004 Hutch Crossword Book Award for Fiction and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in May of 2005.
Megan Torrey, Program Director:
How to Run the World by Parag Khanna. This book takes a new look at the status of the geopolitical marketplace in the 21st century so far. Khanna looks at the three world superpowers, theU.S.,Europe, andChina, and how they are pursuing their goal of market domination via countries in the third world. While analyzing the usage of the military by the United States, of economic reform by Europe, and of eager and generous relationships by China, Khanna focuses on the position of second world countries throughout. I really enjoyed reading the new ideas of this insightful, young author and his predictions of what will happen with the current global superpowers down the road.
Victoria Roehrich, intern:
Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger. This book, while lengthy, is essential for anyone who seeks to understand the realm of international relations and diplomacy, particularly during the 20th century. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for someone who has an active or academic interest! (Also, CTWAC awarded Dr. Kissinger the 2010 Luminary Award last year!)