Bosnia & Herzegowina
Cellist of Sarajevo
Sarajevo reality during the war. It’s a story about ordinary people and their day to day struggles with life. From gathering water for the family to running away from the street corners where the snipers were known to attack. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Since I read this book, I really want to go to Sarajevo and see how the city was rebuilt.
Burning the Grass – Wojciech Jagielski
Incredible story based on true events. Jagielski writes about the political situation in South Africa, about the black workers working for white, wealthy, racist farmers. He describes the tensions and shines a light on relationships that lead to the rebellion. If you want to understand where the actual situation in SA comes from, this is a good place to start.
White fever – Jacek-Hugo Bader
So Jacek decides to buy an old car and drive all the way through Syberia to Kamtchatka. Solo. In winter. He takes us with him to this wild country. When he writes we can nearly feel the overwhelming cold of the nights. Our hearts beat faster when he gets attacked in the middle of nowhere but end us drinking vodka with the attacker. He meets interesting people and tells us their stories. Very well written and so real.
The years with Laura Diaz – Carlos Fuentes
In this novel, we will meet Laura, a young woman living during a very challenging political times in Mexico. She is a woman, a mother, a wife, and an activist. Life is not easy on her and we can see her grow through all the different historical events. The events are real, Lauras story isn’t. Nevertheless it’s a great lecture and I would recommend other books by this author.
Leap of faith – Queen Noor
A true story of this American born girl that through her father meets King Hussein of Jordan, and becomes his Queen. She writes about the challenges she faced when moving to the palace and converting to Islam. She reflects on the relationship of the West with her new religion, about Jordan, as well as about the King himself. Very interesting leap into the palace life, the royal family, and the history of the country.
Izrael juz nie frunie – Pawel Smolenski (in Polish)
A fantastic trip through conversations with the locals: Israelis, Palestinians, inhabitants of Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Gaza, adults, children, men, and women. You can see everybody’s point of view, which makes this book so interesting. Even though I only know the Polish version, is there is a translation, I highly recommend it.
Unorthodox – Deborah Feldman
This book was recommended to me by my dear friend Lorena. Deborah writes about her childhood in a Hasidic family in Williamsburg, NY. She explains all the rules that controlled her life, from the way she needs to dress, the place that she, as a woman has in the community, to her sex life, and she does it in a very interesting way. It is a journey into her personal life but also into the conservative Jewish community: their traditions, their way of thinking, religion, and (sometimes) insanity.
The white Masai – Corinne Hofmann
If you ask me, Corinne is crazy (sorry Corinne). She comes from Switzerland, she has a very comfortable life and a boyfriend. She goes to Kenya for holidays, she fells in love with a Masai – a random dude, by the way, that she met on a ferry – drops everything and moves to the bush. She writes about a life with her Kenyan family, her struggles with food, business, illness. An incredible story that once you start, you can’t stop reading. A beautiful insight into the local life, belives, and relationships.