49 Incredible Books From 49 Different Countries

Go travel the world via novel and memoir.

Ann Morgan considered herself well read — until she discovered the "massive blindspot" on her bookshelf. Amid a multitude of English and American authors, there were very few books from beyond the English-speaking world. So she set an ambitious goal: to read one book from every country in the world over the course of a year. Now she's urging other Anglophiles to read translated works so that publishers will work harder to bring foreign literary gems back to their shores.

Watch her full TED Talk:

See more at, or explore interactive maps of Morgan's reading journey here. You can also pick up the book she wrote about literary challenge, "The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe."

Below are 49 of the most interesting titles that Morgan included in her list.

  • Algeria
    <strong><a href="">The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris</a></strong> <br>by&nbsp;Le&iuml;la Marouane
    The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris
    by Leïla Marouane

    "Basile Tocquard is a handsome, wealthy, Parisian bank manager. Born in Algeria, his life was once devoted to Sundays with his mother, family reunions, pious sobriety, and devout Islamism. But now the time has come for him to find a suitable apartment in the trendiest neighborhood in Paris, for aperitifs at the Deux Magots and the Café de Flore, for shopping sprees at the most exclusive boutiques in Paris. And for a sex life free of prohibitions! Thus his adventures begin. Unfortunately for him, but to the delight of the reader, his story is filtered through a rather unsympathetic female narrator who refuses to show our hero the attention he feels he deserves."
  • Colombia
    <strong><a href="">Delirium</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Laura Restrepo<br><br><i>"Internationally acclaimed
    by Laura Restrepo

    "Internationally acclaimed for the virtuosity and power of her fiction, Laura Restrepo has created in Delirium a passionate, lyrical, devastating tale of eros and insanity. Aguilar, an unemployed literature professor who has resorted to selling dog food for a living, returns home from a short trip to discover that his wife, Agustina, has gone mad. He doesn’t know what has happened during his absence, and in his search for answers, he gradually unearths profound and shadowy secrets about her past."
  • Australia
    <strong><a href="">Cloudstreet</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Tim Winton<br><br><i>"An epic novel that regular
    by Tim Winton

    "An epic novel that regularly tops the list of best-loved novels in Australia. After two separate catastrophes, two very different families leave the country for the bright lights of Perth. The Lambs are industrious, united, and―until God seems to turn His back on their boy Fish―religious. The Pickleses are gamblers, boozers, fractious, and unlikely landlords. Change, hardship, and the war force them to swallow their dignity and share a great, breathing, shuddering house called Cloudstreet."
  • Saudi Arabia
    <strong><a href="">Girls of Riyadh</a></strong><br>by Rajaa Alsanea<br><br><i>"When Rajaa Alsanea boldl
    Girls of Riyadh
    by Rajaa Alsanea

    "When Rajaa Alsanea boldly chose to open up the hidden world of Saudi women—their private lives and their conflicts with the traditions of their culture—she caused a sensation across the Arab world. Now in English, Alsanea’s tale of the personal struggles of four young upper-class women offers Westerners an unprecedented glimpse into a society often veiled from view. Living in restrictive Riyadh but traveling all over the globe, these modern Saudi women literally and figuratively shed traditional garb as they search for love, fulfillment, and their place somewhere in between Western society and their Islamic home."
  • Japan
    <strong><a href="">Manazuru</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Hiromi Kawakami<br><br><i>"Twelve years have passed
    by Hiromi Kawakami

    "Twelve years have passed since Kei’s husband, Rei, disappeared and she was left alone with her three-year-old daughter. Her new relationship with a married man—the antithesis of Rei—has brought her life to a numbing stasis, and her relationships with her mother and daughter have spilled into routine, day after day. Kei begins making repeated trips to the seaside town of Manazuru, a place that jogs her memory to a moment in time she can never quite locate. Her time there by the water encompasses years of unsteady footing and a developing urgency to find something. Through a poetic style embracing the surreal and grotesque, a quiet tenderness emerges from these dark moments. Manazuru is a meditation on memory—a profound, precisely delineated exploration of the relationships between lovers and family members. Both startlingly restless and immaculately compact, Manazuru paints the portrait of a woman on the brink of her own memories and future."
  • Dominican Republic
    <strong><a href="">The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Junot Diaz<br><br><i>"O
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    by Junot Diaz

    "Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love."
  • Russia
    <strong><a href="">One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich</a>&nbsp;</strong><br>by Alexander Solzhenits
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 
    by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    "The simply told story of a typical, grueling day of the titular character's life in a labor camp in Siberia, is a modern classic of Russian literature and quickly cemented Solzhenitsyn's international reputation."
  • Ethiopia
    <strong><a href="">Beneath the Lion's Gaze</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Maaza Mengiste<br><br><i>"The brutal
    Beneath the Lion's Gaze
    by Maaza Mengiste

    "The brutal 1970s civil war in Ethiopia is the dramatic setting in this first novel, told from searing personal viewpoints that humanize the politics from many sides and without slick messages. The author, born in Addis Ababa and now living in New York, tells the story in unforgettable detail: between Emperor Haile Selassi in his lush palace set against the famine outside, captured in the image of a child gnawing on a stone."
  • Uruguay
    <strong><a href="">The Decapitated Chicken</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Horacio Quiroga<br><br><i>"Tales of
    The Decapitated Chicken
    by Horacio Quiroga

    "Tales of horror, madness, and death, tales of fantasy and morality: these are the works of South American master storyteller Horacio Quiroga. Author of some 200 pieces of fiction that have been compared to the works of Poe, Kipling, and Jack London, Quiroga experienced a life that surpassed in morbidity and horror many of the inventions of his fevered mind... His stories are infused with death, too, but they span a wide range of short fiction genres: jungle tale, Gothic horror story, morality tale, psychological study."
  • Liechtenstein
    <strong><a href="">Seven Years in Tibet</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Heinrich Harrer<br><br><i>"In this vivi
    Seven Years in Tibet
    by Heinrich Harrer

    "In this vivid memoir that has sold millions of copies worldwide, Liechtenstein's Heinrich Harrer recounts his adventures as one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet and encounter the Dalai Lama."
  • Turkey
    <strong><a href="">The Forty Rules of Love</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Elif Shafak<br><br><i>"[T]he most wi
    The Forty Rules of Love
    by Elif Shafak

    "[T]he most widely read female writer in Turkey... Shafak effortlessly blends East and West, past and present, to create a dramatic, compelling, and exuberant tale about how love works in the world. Shafak unfolds two parallel narratives-one set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the wandering dervish known as Shams of Tabriz, and one contemporary, as an unhappy American housewife, inspired by Rumi's message of love, finds the courage to transform her life."
  • Pakistan
    <strong><a href="">The Wandering Falcon</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Jamil Ahmad<br><br><i>"A remarkable, aw
    The Wandering Falcon
    by Jamil Ahmad

    "A remarkable, award-winning book about the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this extraordinary tale, Tor Baz, the young boy descended from both chiefs and outlaws who becomes the Wandering Falcon, moves between the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan and their uncertain worlds full of brutality, humanity, deep love, honor, poverty, and grace. The wild area he travels -- the Federally Administered Tribal Area -- has become a political quagmire known for terrorism and inaccessibility. Yet in these pages, eighty-year-old debut author Jamil Ahmad lyrically and insightfully reveals the people who populate those lands, their tribes and traditions, and their older, timeless ways in the face of sometimes ruthless modernity. This story is an essential glimpse into a hidden world, one that has enormous geopolitical significance today and still remains largely a mystery to us."
  • Bhutan
    <strong><a href="">The Circle of Karma</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Kunzang Choden<br><br><i>"The first nove
    The Circle of Karma
    by Kunzang Choden

    "The first novel by a woman to come out of the small kingdom of Bhutan. Written in English, the novel tells the story of Tsomo, a young Bhutanese woman who embarks on the difficult and lonely journey of life. Tsomo's travels, which begin after her mother's death, take her away from her family, and leads her across Bhutan and into India. All the while, Tsomo seeks to find herself and a life partner, and grows as a person and a woman. The text of this unusual work is enriched by detailed descriptions of ritual life in Bhutan."
  • Senegal
    <strong><a href="">So Long a Letter</a></strong> <br>by&nbsp;Mariama B&acirc;<br><br><i>"Written by awa
    So Long a Letter
    by Mariama Bâ

    "Written by award-winning African novelist Mariama Ba and translated from the original French, So Long a Letter has been recognized as one of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. The brief narrative, written as an extended letter, is a sequence of reminiscences—some wistful, some bitter—recounted by recently widowed Senegalese schoolteacher Ramatoulaye Fall. Addressed to a lifelong friend, Aissatou, it is a record of Ramatoulaye's emotional struggle for survival after her husband betrayed their marriage by taking a second wife. This semi-autobiographical account is a perceptive testimony to the plight of educated and articulate Muslim women. Angered by the traditions that allow polygyny, they inhabit a social milieu dominated by attitudes and values that deny them status equal to men."
  • Mexico
    <strong><a href="">Like Water for Chocolate</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Laura Esquivel<br><br><i>"Earthy, m
    Like Water for Chocolate
    by Laura Esquivel

    "Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story."
  • Iceland
    <strong><a href="">Stone Tree</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Gyr&otilde;ir El&iacute;asson<br><br><i>"Along th
    Stone Tree
    by Gyrõir Elíasson

    "Along the lonely western shores of Iceland, among its vast mountain ranges and its barren lava fields, this sublime collection of short stories blends the desires and efforts of its numerous protagonists, nearly all intent on taking leave of their normal lives in order to pursue their dreams more seriously."
  • Guatemala
    <strong><a href="">The President</a></strong><br>by Miguel Angel Asturias<br><br><i>"Winner! Nobel Priz
    The President
    by Miguel Angel Asturias

    "Winner! Nobel Prize for Literature. Guatemalan diplomat and writer Miguel Angel Asturias began this award-winning work while still a law student. It is a story of ruthless dictator and his schemes to dispose of a political adversary in an unnamed Latin American country usually identified as Guatemala. The book has been acclaimed for portraying both a totalitarian government and its damaging psychological effects. Drawing from his experiences as a journalist writing under repressive conditions, Asturias employs such literary devices as satire to convey the government's transgressions and surrealistic dream sequences to demonstrate the police state's impact on the individual psyche."
  • Slovenia
    <strong><a href="">The Golden Shower: Or What Men Want</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Luka Novak<br><br><i>"A
    The Golden Shower: Or What Men Want
    by Luka Novak

    "A light-hearted but deadly serious romp through postmodern culture, mores and lifestyles. In turns, it is shallow, profound, didactic, moving and instructive. In its original Slovenian, it was a bestseller, capturing both the ailments and strengths of a world that seems to have turned upside down our normal desires and expectations."
  • Finland
    <strong><a href="">The Year of the Hare</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Arto Paasilinna<br><br><i>"'Which of us
    The Year of the Hare
    by Arto Paasilinna

    "'Which of us has not had that wonderfully seditious idea: to play hooky for a while from life as we know it?' With these words from his foreword, Pico Iyer puts his finger on the exhilaratingly anarchic appeal of The Year of the Hare. Suddenly realizing what's important in life (with the help of a bunny), a man quits his job and heads to the countryside in this internationally bestselling comic novel."
  • Tunisia
    <strong><a href="">Talismano</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Abdelwahab Meddeb<br><br><i>"A&nbsp;novelistic exp
    by Abdelwahab Meddeb

    "A novelistic exploration of writing seen as a hallucinatory journey through half-remembered, half-imagined cities--in particular, the city of Tunis, both as it is now, and as it once was. Walking and writing, journey and journal, mirror one another to produce a calligraphic, magical work: a palimpsest of various languages and cultures, highlighting Abdelwahab Meddeb's beguiling mastery of both the Western and Islamic traditions."
  • Angola
    <strong><a href="">The Whistler</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Ondjaki<br><br><i>"From Angola, a country riddl
    The Whistler
    by Ondjaki

    "From Angola, a country riddled with civil war and its aftereffects for the last 30 years, comes a surprising story of hope, passion, and magical realism from a groundbreaking young African novelist. A young man arrives at the church of a small African village and starts whistling so beautifully that the priest is left in tears. As his weeklong stay continues, the whistler finds himself affected by the colorful inhabitants of the village as they all become bewitched and surrender to the moods of his melodies."
  • Qatar
    <strong><a href="">The Corsair</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud<br><br><i>"It's the early p
    The Corsair
    by Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud

    "It's the early part of the nineteenth century and the Arabian Peninsula and the waters surrounding it are ablaze. Piracy in the Gulf threatens global maritime trade routes while the Wahabbi strain of Islam is conquering followers town by town across the region. Britain, eager to reinforce its presence in the Middle East and protect the East India Company's ships, has a plan: send a man-of-war from England to quash the pirates while persuading Egypt to join an international alliance with Oman and Persia to fight the Wahabbis. At the center of it all lies a priceless Indian sword, a gift from the British monarch to the Egyptian Pasha. But Erhama bin Jaber, a historical figure and one of the most notorious pirates in the Gulf, has his own agenda and his own vendettas. When the Arabian corsair and his gang attack a ship carrying the sword, Britain's complex strategy goes terribly awry."
  • Afghanistan
    <strong><a href="">The Patience Stone</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Atiq Rahimi<br><br><i>&ldquo;For far too
    The Patience Stone
    by Atiq Rahimi

    “For far too long, Afghan women have been faceless and voiceless. Until now. With The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi gives face and voice to one unforgettable woman–and, one could argue, offers her as a proxy for the grievances of millions… it is a rich read, part allegory, part a tale of retribution, part an exploration of honor, love, sex, marriage, war.  It is without doubt an important and courageous book.” From the introduction by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • The Bahamas
    <strong><a href="">Thine Is The Kingdom</a></strong><br>by Garth Buckner<br><br><i>"When young Gavin Bl
    Thine Is The Kingdom
    by Garth Buckner

    "When young Gavin Blake returns to his island home to claim his right to citizenship he is stonewalled. He discovers that the only way forward is through bribery. Confronted with the stark irony of having to do something illegal to become legal he finds he must make a choice. While he weighs his options, Gavin takes a job on the yacht of a wealthy young local called Jacob Thesinger who lives in an old colonial seaside home and who sees himself as the defender of the island's culture and history while crime and corruption threaten him... This is a novel that explores the nature of class and identity in the post-colonial world through a narrative rich in imagery and wrought in a confident, graceful prose."
  • Mongolia
    <strong><a href="">The Blue Sky</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Galsan Tschinag<br><br><i>"In the Altai Mountai
    The Blue Sky
    by Galsan Tschinag

    "In the Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, the nomadic Tuvan people’s ancient way of life is colliding with the pervasive influence of modernity. For the young shepherd boy Dshurukuwaa, the confrontation comes in stages. First his older siblings leave the family yurt to attend a distant boarding school, followed by the death of his beloved grandmother and with it, the connection to the tribe’s traditions and deep relationship to the land. But the greatest tragedy strikes when his dog — 'all that was left to me' — dies after ingesting poison set out by the boy’s father to protect the herd from wolves. His despairing questions to the Heavenly Blue Sky are answered only by the silence of the wind. The first and only member of the Tuvans to use written language to tell stories, Galsan Tschinag chronicles their traditions in this fascinating, bittersweet novel."
  • Armenia
    <strong><a href="">Armenian Golgotha</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Grigoris Balakian<br><br><i>"On April 24,
    Armenian Golgotha
    by Grigoris Balakian

    "On April 24, 1915, Grigoris Balakian was arrested along with some 250 other leaders of Constantinople’s Armenian community. It was the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s systematic attempt to eliminate the Armenian people from Turkey—a campaign that continued through World War I and the fall of the empire. Over the next four years, Balakian would bear witness to a seemingly endless caravan of blood, surviving to recount his miraculous escape and expose the atrocities that led to over a million deaths. Armenian Golgotha is Balakian’s devastating eyewitness account—a haunting reminder of the first modern genocide and a controversial historical document that is destined to become a classic of survivor literature."
  • Switzerland
    <strong><a href="">Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Aglaja Veteranyi<br>
    Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta
    by Aglaja Veteranyi

    "Aglaja Veteranyi was born in Bucharest to a family of circus artists who toured Europe relentlessly until they finally settled in Switzerland. An actress, performer, and artist as well as a writer, she only published one novel during her lifetime. She committed suicide in 2002. In the novel, a nomadic family of circus performers, refugees from Romania, travels through Europe and Africa by caravan. The mother's death-defying act causes constant anxiety for her two daughters, who voice their fears through a grisly communal fairy tale about a child being cooked alive in polenta--but their real life is no less of a dark fable, and one that seems just as unlikely to have a happy ending... Veteranyi was acclaimed for her seemingly 'artless' narrative voice, in which pain and hilarity always vie for the upper hand--a voice at once lyrical and jaded, prurient and spiritual, comical and horrifying."
  • Germany
    <strong><a href="">All the Lights</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Clemens Meyer<br><br><i>"A man bets all he ha
    All the Lights
    by Clemens Meyer

    "A man bets all he has on a horserace to pay for an expensive operation for his dog. A young refugee wants to box her way straight off the boat to the top of the sport. Old friends talk all night after meeting up by chance. She imagines their future together... Stories about people who have lost out in life and in love, and about their hopes for one really big win, the chance to make something of their lives. In silent apartments, desolate warehouses, prisons and down by the river, Meyer strikes the tone of our harsh times, and finds the grace notes, the bright lights shining in the dark."
  • Marshall Islands
    <strong><a href="">Marshall Islands: Legends and Stories</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Daniel A. Kelin II<br>
    Marshall Islands: Legends and Stories
    by Daniel A. Kelin II

    "Daniel A. Kelin II preserves the qualities of oral storytelling in fifty stories recorded from eighteen storytellers on eight islands and atolls. This lively collection includes something for everyone: origin stories, tales of mejenkwaad and other demons, tricksters, disobedient children, wronged husbands, foolish suitors, and reunited families - all relaying the importance of traditional Marshallese values and customs. Profiles of the storytellers, a glossary, and a pronunciation guide enrich the collection."
  • Israel
    <strong><a href="">Blooms of Darkness</a></strong><br>by&nbsp;Aharon Appelfeld<br><br><i>"In this power
    Blooms of Darkness
    by Aharon Appelfeld

    "In this powerful novel from award-winning Israeli writer Appelfeld, two discarded souls form an unlikely bond in the chaos of occupied Ukraine during WWII. When the Jews are being rounded up, 11-year-old Hugo's mother hides him with her childhood friend, Mariana, a prostitute in a brothel. Locked in a closet every night, Hugo hears Mariana at work and disappears into dreams and visions about his family and friends."