The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium (England)

It’s hard to imagine a more British family than the Durrells. Mother Durrell, born in India. Gerald, the naturalist, raised in Corfu before the Second World War. Larry, the novelist, sarcastic and scathing but unfailingly polite to foreigners and strangers. Leslie, the gun-crazy older brother, slightly deaf and slightly near-sighted but who refuses to get glasses. […]

Absolute Monarchs (Vatican City)

by John Julius Norwich courtesy of a special order from Auntie’s Bookstore I wasn’t going to count Vatican City as a country. (I mean, it’s a religion inside a city, right?) I thought Popes were about religion rather than power and politics. Not always, In fact, not often. I thought that Vatican City was analogous […]

A Fish Caught in Time (Comoros Islands)

by Samantha Weinberg Courtesy of Banana Books in Long Beach, Washington After reading about the horrors of the Holocaust in The Search for Major Plagge, I had to switch to something cheerful. Enter the charming wackiness of ichthyologists in hot pursuit of their passions in A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth. Ironically, this book […]

Dirty Feet (Guinea) or (Togo)

courtesy of a special order from Auntie’s Bookstore From a man with a cheesy name (ha ha)…Edem Awumey I’m not sure where to place this book in the world. Rather like the main character. But we’ll get to him in a moment. The author, Edem Awumey, is from Togo. The MC is from Guinea. But, […]

Solomon Time (Solomon Islands)

by Will Randall When you buy Solomon Time, (at least the version ISBN 9781416575276 for $35.95) you may get 2 books for the price of one. Unfortunately, it is the same book, bound together twice into one volume. It’s the first time that has happened to me–and so the book ends in what you confidently […]

The Devil’s Flu (Svalbard)

by Pete Davies This book appears on my blog courtesy of the Spokane Public Library The influenza outbreak of 1918, nicknamed the “Spanish flu”, was as scary then as the recent Ebola outbreak was a few years ago. People died in gruesome fits of bleeding and coughing. People’s lips and ears turned blue. Some people […]

Two Old Fools on a Camel (Bahrain)

by Victoria Tweed When I (blog author) was an ex-pat English teacher in Tokyo, I noticed that my fellow gaijin teachers could be divided into some broad categories: the lecherous loser (25%) the weird loner (5%) and the men and women who were just there to make money (70%).   The lecherous loser inevitably goes to an Asian country […]

Looking for Osman (Turkey)

by Eric Lawlor Note: I checked this book out of the Spokane Public Library. An Irishman goes to Turkey in search of the exotic. A Turk rejects exoticism as backwards and dirty. “You left England to find exoticism?” said Selim when I mentioned this. “You amaze me.” “Why?” “Isn’t London exotic? Buckingham Palace? Marble Arch? Big […]

The Sly Company of People Who Care (Guyana)

by Rahul Bhattacharya This is a very dense novel. It’s packed full of people: in Guyana, 90% of folks live along the narrow coastal strip, and a few live in the interior jungles. I’m guessing those few are the original inhabitants: Akawaio Arawaks Arecuna Caribs Macushi Patamona Wai-Wai Wapixana and Warao The others are descended from African […]

My Uncle Napoleon (Iran)

by Iraj Pezeshkzad This is not Betty Mahmoody’s Iran. These are people I could live among; when the book ended I felt like my year as an exchange student had sadly come to a close. They drink. They sleep around. They have insane relatives and do weird, chaotic things. They’re greedy. They’re noble. They’re human. […]