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Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestselling author of books that include The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and Hotel on the Place Vendôme. Her newest book of nonfiction is Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto She also writes on food and wine for the mainstream press, and her work has appeared in venues such as Food & Wine and in her Back-Lane Wineries guidebook series (Ten Speed Press). Her course on creative nonfiction (Great Courses), featured as in-flight viewing content on Virgin America airlines, is widely distributed and has made her a nationally prominent teacher of writing in nonfiction genres. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time among coastal Maine, New York City, and Saanichton, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and stepchildren.

Passport growing dusty? With summer travels behind us and a spring getaway still a long way off, here’s the solution for your wanderlust: a great book from another corner of the globe to read here at home. Including both novels and narrative nonfiction, these seven books are not only great stories but also capture the raw beauty and fascinating cultural histories of far-off (and not-so-far-off) places. All thrillers or mysteries of a sort, these are books by authors who have been bestsellers in their own countries and whose works you won’t want to miss.


The Golden Spruce
by John Vaillant

For three centuries, the indigenous people of Vancouver Island, Canada, told the story of a magical tree that grew out of the ruin—a golden Sitka spruce. In 1997, a misguided environmental protest killed the spruce, setting in motion a tragic and gripping story of politics and desire.

The Golden Spruce
John Vaillant

For three centuries, the indigenous people of Vancouver Island, Canada, told the story of a magical tree that grew out of the ruin—a golden Sitka spruce. In 1997, a misguided environmental protest killed the spruce, setting in motion a tragic and gripping story of politics and desire.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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Midnight in Sicily
by Peter Robb

One part a long and loving meditation into the beauty and the brutality that is Sicily, and one part a true-crime thriller, Australian author Peter Robb maps the connections among the crumbling palazzi of Palermo, the sordid history of Italian politics, and the mafia creed at the heart of “La Cosa Nostra”—“our thing.”

Midnight in Sicily
Peter Robb

One part a long and loving meditation into the beauty and the brutality that is Sicily, and one part a true-crime thriller, Australian author Peter Robb maps the connections among the crumbling palazzi of Palermo, the sordid history of Italian politics, and the mafia creed at the heart of “La Cosa Nostra”—“our thing.”

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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Seven Houses in France
by Bernardo Atxaga

Originally written in Basque, this novel loses nothing in translation. Set in the Belgian Congo around 1903, it is the story of two warped but compelling love stories. One is the story of a new colonial recruit’s fascination with a beautiful African girl whom his commander wishes to rape. The other is the story of the commander and his wife, whose homes in France fuel this distant tragedy.

Seven Houses in France
Bernardo Atxaga

Originally written in Basque, this novel loses nothing in translation. Set in the Belgian Congo around 1903, it is the story of two warped but compelling love stories. One is the story of a new colonial recruit’s fascination with a beautiful African girl whom his commander wishes to rape. The other is the story of the commander and his wife, whose homes in France fuel this distant tragedy.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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Purge
by Sofi Oksanen

A brilliant Scandinavian noir thriller by Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen, PURGE is set during the early 1990s, in the first year following the liberation of Estonia from decades of Soviet occupation. In it, a young woman flees organized Russian crime and sexual slavery and returns to the rural farm where her grandmother and great-aunt have buried a dangerous family secret.

Purge
Sofi Oksanen

A brilliant Scandinavian noir thriller by Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen, PURGE is set during the early 1990s, in the first year following the liberation of Estonia from decades of Soviet occupation. In it, a young woman flees organized Russian crime and sexual slavery and returns to the rural farm where her grandmother and great-aunt have buried a dangerous family secret.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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The Shape of Water
by Andrea Camilleri

THE SHAPE OF WATER is one of the wittiest of the always-superb Montalbano series by Italian author Andrea Camilleri. He manages to swing from rollicking dark comedy to wry tenderness, all the while crafting one of the best detectives in contemporary literature and writing what is arguably the best introduction to Sicily out there.

The Shape of Water
Andrea Camilleri

THE SHAPE OF WATER is one of the wittiest of the always-superb Montalbano series by Italian author Andrea Camilleri. He manages to swing from rollicking dark comedy to wry tenderness, all the while crafting one of the best detectives in contemporary literature and writing what is arguably the best introduction to Sicily out there.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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Upon a Dark Night
by Peter Lovesey

Set in picturesque Bath, England, it’s a marvel that Peter Lovesey’s cleverly plotted detective novels featuring investigator Peter Diamond haven’t yet been turned into a BBC television series. Reminiscent of the novels of Agatha Christie, UPON A DARK NIGHT is one of the most classically perfect of the series: two seemingly unconnected murders drawn together by a thread that tightens.

Upon a Dark Night
Peter Lovesey

Set in picturesque Bath, England, it’s a marvel that Peter Lovesey’s cleverly plotted detective novels featuring investigator Peter Diamond haven’t yet been turned into a BBC television series. Reminiscent of the novels of Agatha Christie, UPON A DARK NIGHT is one of the most classically perfect of the series: two seemingly unconnected murders drawn together by a thread that tightens.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

Close

Measuring the World
by Daniel Kehlmann

A surprisingly urgent and luminous novel by German author Daniel Kehlmann about the shared South American journey of geographer Alexander von Humboldt and mathematician Carl Gauss, each consumed with private dreams of what it might mean to symbolize and map the limits of knowledge and our world.

Measuring the World
Daniel Kehlmann

A surprisingly urgent and luminous novel by German author Daniel Kehlmann about the shared South American journey of geographer Alexander von Humboldt and mathematician Carl Gauss, each consumed with private dreams of what it might mean to symbolize and map the limits of knowledge and our world.

MENTIONED IN:

Stamp Your Literary Passport: 7 Great Books to Take You Around the World

By Tilar J. Mazzeo | November 21, 2016

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