In this tag, I’ll be naming a few countries, and telling you about a book that takes place in that country (I did end up completely ignoring the YA part!). I decided to choose five countries.
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing.
I read this for my Doris Lessing module last year. The Grass is Singing is Lessing’s first novel, and takes place in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1940s. The novel deals with Rhodesian white culture—primarily its racism, exploring and critiquing it through the relationship between Mary and her servant Moses.
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill.
This book takes place in the fictional town of Ballinatoom, Ireland, which I believe is supposed to be situated near Cork. The novel deals with rape culture, so it is, unfortunately, applicable to any culture, but there are mentions of things specific to Ireland. For instance, there’s a brief mention of how abortion is illegal in Ireland, and ultimately I think the setting is important to the story, though I haven’t seen it talked about too much.
I did a full review of this novel, and you can read it here.
Out by Natsuo Kirino
Out takes place in Tokyo, and is a gritty horror/thriller, that follows a group of women who work in a bento box factory as one of them murders her husband and enlists the help of her co-workers in covering up the crime. Some of the book deals with Japan’s yakuza, but the best part about the book is how it details women’s position in Japanese society (something I knew very little about), and more generally, how women are driven to violent crime.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
Initially I wanted to avoid putting England on here, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a more evocative setting than Mrs Dalloway. The book takes place over the course of one day in London, starting with Mrs Dalloway as she is sorting out the last details of her party. There’s a sense of drifting through London, moving from character to character as you go. While Woolf’s writing can be challenging, it’s beautiful, and London is wonderfully captured in the text.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
This book primarily takes place in two places, Prague and Marrakesh. I chose Morroco for this because this was by far my favourite part of the book, and because much of the second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, also takes place in Morroco. This was another book where the setting was very evocative, and I actually ended up reading it not long after I visited Marrakesh myself, so there was a feeling of revisiting the city while I was reading.
And there you have it! I feel like I should have put way more countries on this list, but I wanted to choose books that I’d actually read. Also, even if I included some of the books I had read, it’d end up being very Eurocentric, which is bad. So if you do have any recommendations for books with a non-Western setting, I’d love to hear them! I’m very keen to diversify my reading.
- Julianne @ Quilltricks
- Emily @ Rose Read
- Sammie @ Bookshelves & Biros
- Shannon @ Captivated by Fantasy
As always, if you don’t want to do the tag, or you’ve done it before, that’s totally fine! 🙂