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Books that accurately depict culture

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Mar. 18th, 2010 | 12:13 pm

My stories usually deal with multiple cultures, so I'm always looking for books that honestly show authentic cultures.

I recently read two incredible books that stunned me with how well they capture the culture of the characters on the page.

The two books I read are Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson and Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan. (Khan blogs at Khanversations.)

Blessing's Bead is set in Alaska in the Inupiaq culture and Wanting Mor is set in Afghanistan. Both liberally sprinkle foreign words in the text, but the reader will never be confused. Both books let me experience culture and life I am unfamiliar with.


Writers often talk about setting. Culture includes setting and characters and action. It is vitally important to get the culture correct, as readers will believe that details inside fictional stories are fact.


In both of these books, each author is very familiar with the culture depicted and has lived either within the culture or has much of the same cultural background. Both authors asked those who live inside the culture they depict to read their stories so everything would be accurate. (Mentioned on their acknowledgment pages.)





I strongly recommend both of these books. They are extremely well crafted, and tell good stories about realistic characters.

I have lived in six very different cultures, ranging from Brazil to Finland to China. Because of my experiences I appreciate books that accurately deal with a variety of cultures, books that allow readers to travel somewhere they can't go in real life.

Next week I'll be in Bologna at the book fair.
One thing I look forward to is seeing books from all over the world that show so many cultures.

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Comments {4}

jennifer_j_s

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from: jennifer_j_s
date: Mar. 18th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
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You're going to Bologna? You lucky ducky!

Thank you for the book recommendations. Like you, I enjoy reading about other places and other cultures. Invariably for my book club, I pick a book set elsewhere.

Do you have any recommendations for novels set in African countries? I read Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone and would like to explore more countries on the African continent. I've read quite a lot about Kenya, but that's about it.

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sarah_create

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from: sarah_create
date: Mar. 19th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
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I'll post some blogs from Bologna too. (I'm guest blogging on Through the Tollbooth!, but I'll do one post here after I get home.)

I'm more familiar with PBs set in Africa.
Novels? I've read Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible which is set in the Belgian Congo. It is an adult book, multiple pov, and is written from the foreigner's view of one who is immersed into the culture. I enjoyed reading it, though I will admit, I skimmed through a few pages here and there.

I'll look at the fair and see what I can find with YA or MG novels set in Africa. I'll check back in and let you know what I see. (Books both by American authors set there and by African authors.)
I was already planning to visit the Sub-Saharan (Ghana) booth.

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lloveland

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from: lloveland
date: Mar. 19th, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
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I just ordered Wanting Mor, now I really can't wait. Thanks for the book talk.

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sarah_create

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from: sarah_create
date: Mar. 19th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
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Cool. I think you'll enjoy it.
I had bought Wanting Mor, but checked out Blessing's Bead from my kids' library. I plan to buy Blessing's Bead with my next book buying splurge.

Both books are very good ones, not only for story, but also for looking at a well crafted novel.

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