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Are you looking to escape Massachusetts? Take a trip in a book! Read stories of characters in China, Botswana, or Ireland. Forbes offers a large array of fiction that take place in foreign countries.

Compiled by Jennifer Adams. Summaries from ContentCafe. March 2010.

The following is a sampling of our collection. The list is categorized by continent.

The alchemist by Paulo Coelho ; translated by Alan R. Clarke
The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

Baking cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
Rendered a confidant and supportive friend for her willingness to listen to her neighbors in genocide-stricken Rwanda, baker Angel Tungaraza provides decadent confections and transforming counsel to a series of troubled customers.

The camel bookmobile by Masha Hamilton
Establishing a bookmobile in a destitute Kenya village, well-intentioned Fiona Sweeny inadvertently renews a decades-old tribal feud involving a camel-powered bookmobile and prior efforts to promote local education.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Working in Gaborone, Botswana, Precious Ramotswe investigates several local mysteries, including a search for a missing boy and the case of the clinic doctor with different personalities for different days of the week.

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress by Dai Sijie ; translated from the French by Ina Rilke
At the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two young boys are sent to the country for "reeducation" at a remote mountain village, where their lives take an unexpected turn when they meet the beautiful daughter of a local tailor and stumble upon a forbidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translations.

The hero's walk : a novel by Anita Rau Badami
When his long-estranged daughter dies in a car accident in Canada, an aging Bengali man finds his life transformed by the arrival of his seven-year-old granddaughter in India.

Memoirs of a geisha : a novel by Arthur Golden
The "memoirs" of one of Japan's most celebrated geishas describes how, in 1929, as a little girl, she is sold into slavery; her efforts to learn the arts of the geisha; the impact of World War II; and her struggle to reinvent herself to win the man she loves.

The mistress of spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A critically acclaimed first novel by an Indian-American writer spins a sensual contemporary fairy tale involving a young woman trained in the ancient art of spices, who is forced by an unexpected romance to choose between immortality and modern life.

My year of meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
Strange things happen in the love lives of two women--one a Japanese-American filmmaker from New York, the other a Japanese housewife--linked by a Japanese television show sponsored by an American meat exporter.

Snow flower and the secret fan : a novel by Lisa See
An evocative story of friendship set against the backdrop of a nineteenth-century China in which women suffered from foot binding, isolation, and illiteracy follows an elderly woman and her companion as they communicate their hopes, dreams, joys, and tragedies through a unique secret language.

The lieutenant by Kate Grenville
In late eighteenth-century New South Wales, misfit Daniel Rooke hopes to find his place in life when he joins the military, constructs an observatory, and forges a relationship with an Aborigine girl.

People of the book : a novel by Geraldine Brooks
Offered a coveted job to analyze and conserve a priceless Sarajevo Haggadah, Australian rare-book expert Hanna Heath discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the volume's ancient binding that reveal its historically significant origins.

Slow man by J. M. Coetzee
Rendered dependent on others after losing his leg in a bicycle accident, sixty-year-old photographer Paul Rayment finds himself falling in love with a down-to-earth Croatian nurse and encouraged by a mysterious writer to take an activist role in his own life.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Estranged from her family since childhood, Abby lands on a small Irish dairy farm where she encounters down-on-his-luck New York stockbroker Kit, who with Abby helps a pair of elderly cheese makers save their farm and help a range of troubled souls.

Chocolat : a novel by Joanne Harris
When the beautiful and mysterious Vianne moves to Lansquenet and opens a chocolate shop across from the church, the inhabitants of the tiny village find themselves torn between the solemn law of religion and the joyful rewards of Vianne's confections.

Girl with a pearl earring by Tracy Chevalier
A poor seventeenth-century servant girl knows her place in the household of the painter Johannes Vermeer, but when he begins to paint her, nasty whispers and rumors circulate throughout the town.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
In 1946, as England emerges from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey and his eccentric friends, who tell her about their island, the books they love, German occupation, and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.

An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor
Delighted to be offered a permanent position with crusty Dr. O'Reilly, Dr. Barry Lavery confronts a crisis when his reputation is threatened by the unexpected death of one of his patients, he and O'Reilly launch a campaign to save Ballybucklebo's four-hundred-year-old pub, and his beloved Patricia tries to win a scholarship to Cambridge, in the sequel to An Irish Country Doctor.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
Three Iranian sisters--Marjan, Layla, and Bahar Aminpour--flee the turmoil of the Islamic Revolution in their native country to seek refuge in Ireland, where they open the exotic Babylon Caf‚ amongst the quirky inhabitants of a colorful Irish town, in a debut novel that comes complete with original Persian recipes.

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie by Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, begins her adventure when a dead bird is found on the doorstep of her family's mansion in the summer of 1950, thus propelling her into a mystery that involves an investigation into a man's murder where her father is the main suspect.

South America
Bel canto : a novel by Ann Patchett
When terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, an unlikely assortment of people thrown together, including American opera star Roxane Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese CEO and her biggest fan. From the bestselling author of "The Magician's Assistant" comes a marvelous novel of love, opera, and terrorism set in South America. Two couples, complete opposites, fall in love; sexual identities become confused; and a horrific imprisonment is transformed into an unexpected heaven on earth.

Inés of my soul by Isabel Allende ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden
A work of historical fiction chronicles the brave deeds and passionate loves of a spirited woman who journeyed to the New World and helped found a nation.

Like water for chocolate : a novel in monthly installments, with recipes, romances, and home remedies by Laura Esquivel
Despite the fact that she has fallen in love with a young man, Tita, the youngest of three daughters born to a tyrannical ranch must obey tradition and remain single and at home to care for her mother.

Love in the time of cholera : a novel by Gabriel García Márquez ; translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
Set on the Caribbean coast of South America, this love story brings together Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza, a man who has secretly loved her for more than fifty years, on the day of her husband's funeral.

Category: Reading Lists

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