30 Day Book Challenge | Day 8 — Your favorite book dealing with a foreign culture
I have three answers for this question…
I read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck in high school, and the story struck me. I would have to read it again for all the details, but I remember being consumed by the characters and their hardships as poor farmers in pre-WWII China. (What is it with the bleak struggle books in high school that I loved?)
And continuing in the bleak struggle book vein, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was one of my favorite reads this year, as well as an eye-opening story of a culture foreign to me. I vaguely knew about India’s State of Emergency of the 1970s and Prime Minister Indira Ghandi before I read this book… but basically just that—it was a thing that happened. A Fine Balance is a fictional tale of life in India during that time and it is grim but hauntingly affecting.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano, too. I adore learning about and being entertained by mafia culture, but Gomorrah shocked me in a more different way than other books I’ve read about organized crime—the books I’ve read before on mafia culture have either been historical or memoirs of a person’s past in the life. This one is more powerful partly because of the author’s dangerous undercover investigation and subsequent necessary police protection after the book was published. The other reason is that these clandestine, illegal dealings are really happening right now in Italy, destroying cities and the land and throwing life into chaos for many.