Reading Around the World - Historical Fiction/Fiction Edition


I've toyed with the idea of Reading Around the World several times, but my taste for historical fiction has complicated the prospect and I’ve always chickened out. As a sort of intermediary step toward that goal, I decided to compile the following reading list, just to see if it were possible to read one’s way around the world via my favorite genre. 

Unfortunately for me, it's not currently possible to read an English-language historical novel from every nation. To the best of my knowledge, it's not even possible to read an English-language fiction from every nation. I can get close, but some nations proved impossible to pin down.

Notes on this list: 

Many nations have no historical titles available, but I found workarounds in selecting contemporary novels/classics that have aged into reflecting historical events. Though I tried to focus on novels set prior to 1960, I also broke with traditional guidelines to include stories of the late 20th-century. I realize this sort of flexibility might frustrate diehard genre readers, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. 

There a few nations, however, where the lack of English-language titles necessitate greater sacrifice. I’ve nothing against historical romance, but I’m fairly sure the Harlequin Intrigue I’ve listed for Andorra does not do justice to the culture or history of the nation. The scarcity of English-language titles set in Comoros and Mauritania also required me to accept 21st-century fiction, but needs must. 

Finally, I want to note that I’m human. I sourced titles from free databases, I've yet to read the majority of them, and I’ve likely overlooked relevant stories and writers because of my limited knowledge base. It very possible that I’ve listed a non-native author where a native author could be represented. Please understand these instances are unintentional.

On that note, this is probably a good place to note I also consider this list a living document. If you have a title you can confidently recommend as a better fit than the one I’ve listed, a recommendation for a country I am missing, or you see an error in need of correction, please email me via my Submission Guidelines and Contact page. I’d love to learn and welcome your input. 

Thank you and happy reading, 

Erin

✮ - Title by native-born author

✧ - 21st-century fiction

COUNTRY

HISTORICAL FICTION

Continent

Afghanistan

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ✮                                   

Asia

Albania

Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare 

Europe

Algeria

Nedjma by Kateb Yacine 

Africa

Andorra

The Basque Swallow by Leigh Daniels 

Europe

Angola

Rainy Season by José Eduardo Agualusa ✮

Africa

Antigua and Barbuda

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid ✮

Latin America

Argentina

Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez ✮

Latin America

Armenia

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Asia

Australia

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey 

Oceania

Austria

Wittgenstein's Nephew: A Novel by Thomas Bernhard 

Europe

Azerbaijan

Ali and Nino by Kurban Said

Asia

Bahamas

Out from Nassau by Fia B. Scheyer

Latin America

Bahrain

Yummah by Sarah A. Al Shafei ✮ 

Asia

Bangladesh

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam ✮

Asia

Barbados

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan 

Latin America

Belarus

Wave of Terror by Theodore Odrach 

Europe

Belgium

The Master of Bruges by Terence Morgan

Europe

Belize

Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell 

Latin America

Benin

Thread of Gold Beads by Nike Campbell-Fatoki

Africa

Bhutan

Cressida's Bed by Desmond Barry 

Asia

Bolivia

Andean Express by Juan De Recacoechea ✮

Latin America

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić ✮

Europe

Botswana

White Dog Fell from the Sky by Eleanor Morse  

Africa

Brazil

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles ✮

Latin America

Brunei

Kalimantaan by C.S. Godshalk

Asia

Bulgaria

Under the Yoke by Ivan Vazov 

Europe

Burkina Faso

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson 

Africa

Burundi

The Violets of Usambara by Mary Soderstrom 

Africa

Cabo Verde

The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida

Africa

Cambodia

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel by Vaddey Ratner ✮

Asia

Cameroon

Mount Pleasant by Patrice Nganang 

Africa

Canada

The Trade by Fred Stenson 

North America

Central African Republic

Batouala by René Maran 

Africa

Chad

The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary 

Africa

Chile

Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende

Latin America

China

Empress Orchid by Anchee Min 

Asia

Colombia

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabrial García Márquez 

Latin America

Comoros

The Kaffir of Karthala by Mohamed Toihiri ✮✧ 

Africa

Congo

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou ✮

Africa

Costa Rica

Years Like Brief Days by Fabián Dobles ✮

Latin America

Côte d'Ivoire

Aya by Marguerite Abouet ✮

Africa

Croatia

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Europe

Cuba

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Latin America

Cyprus

The Cypriot by Andreas Koumi

Asia

Czech Republic (Czechia)

The Fifth Servant by K.J.A. Wishnia

Europe

Denmark

The Fall of the King by Johannes V. Jensen

Europe

Djibouti

The Last Train From Djibouti by Otis L. Lee Jr.

Africa

Dominica

Pharcel: Runaway Slave by Alick Lazare ✮

Latin America

Dominican Republic

In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Latin America

DR Congo

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Africa

Ecuador

The Villagers (Huasipungo) by Jorge Icaza ✮

Latin America

Egypt

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz ✮

Africa

El Salvador

Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez

Latin America

Equatorial Guinea

Shadows of Your Black Memory by Donato Ndongo ✮

Africa

Eritrea

The Good Italian by Stephen Burke

Africa

Estonia

Purge by Sofi Oksanen

Europe

Eswatini

The Bird of Heaven by Peter Dunseith

Africa

Ethiopia

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese ✮

Africa

Fiji

Kalyana by Rajni Mala Khlawan 

Oceania

Finland

Under the North Star by Väinö Linna ✮

Europe

France

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Europe

Gabon

Gabon by Marius Gabriel

Africa

Gambia

Chaff on the Wind by Ebou Dibba 

Africa

Georgia

The Girl King by Meg Clothier 

Asia

Germany

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 

Europe

Ghana

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah 

Africa

Greece

Freedom or Death by Nikos Kazantzakis 

Europe

Grenada

Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali

Latin America

Guatemala

Red Midnight by Ben Mikaelsen

Latin America

Guinea

The King of Kahel by Tierno Monénembo 

Africa

Guinea-Bissau

The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye 

Africa

Guyana

The Sugar Planter's Daughter by Sharon Maas 

Latin America

Haiti

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat ✮ 

Latin America

Holy See

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross 

Europe

Honduras

Mercenary by David M. Gaughran 

Latin America

Hungary

Embers by Sándor Márai ✮

Europe

Iceland

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Europe

India

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

Asia

Indonesia

The Girl from the Coast by Pramoedya Ananta Toer 

Asia

Iran

The Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji ✮ 

Asia

Iraq

The Watermelon Boys by Ruqaya Izzidien

Asia

Ireland

Famine by Liam O'Flaherty 

Europe

Israel

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi 

Asia

Italy

A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell

Europe

Jamaica

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

Latin America

Japan

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro ✮

Asia

Jordan

Staircase of a Thousand Steps by Marsha Hamilton

Asia

Kazakhstan

The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov 

Asia

Kenya

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor ✮

Africa

Kiribati

Dodging Tides by Edward Theriot 

Oceania

Kuwait

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Asia

Kyrgyzstan

Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov 

Asia

Laos

Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong

Asia

Latvia

The Ghastly Year by Diana Mathur 

Europe

Lebanon

A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi 

Asia

Lesotho

Thoughts in a Makeshift Mortuary by Jenny Hobbs 

Africa

Liberia

She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore ✮

Africa

Libya

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar ✮ 

Africa

Liechtenstein

 

Europe

Lithuania

Stalemate by Iccokas Meras ✮ 

Europe

Luxembourg

 

Europe

Madagascar

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo 

Africa

Malawi

No Easy Task by Aubrey Kachingwe ✮

Africa

Malaysia

Evening Is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarsan ✮ 

Asia

Maldives

Dhon Hiyala aai Alifulhu by Abdoulla Sadiq

Asia

Mali

Segu By Maryse Condé

Africa

Malta

The Kappillian of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat 

Europe

Marshall Islands

The Bomb by Theodore Taylor 

Oceania

Mauritania

The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk ✮✧

Africa

Mauritius

The Prisoner of Paradise by Romesh Gunesekera

Africa

Mexico

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel ✮

Latin America

Micronesia

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara 

Oceania

Moldova

 

Europe

Monaco

White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby

Europe

Mongolia

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton

Asia

Montenegro

Montenegro by Starling Lawrence 

Europe

Morocco

The Saffron Gate by Kinda Holeman 

Africa

Mozambique

Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto 

Africa

Myanmar (Burma)

Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

Asia

Namibia

Mama Namibia by Mari Serebrov

Africa

Nauru

 

Oceania

Nepal

Buddha's Orphans by Samrat Upadhyay ✮ 

Asia

Netherlands

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Europe

New Zealand

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Oceania

Nicaragua

Only the River by Anne Raff

Latin America

Niger 

Africa

Nigeria

Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ✮

Africa

North Korea

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews 

Asia

North Macedonia

 

Europe

Norway

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Europe

Oman

Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan 

Asia

Pakistan

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie 

Asia

Palau

 

Oceania

Panama

Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer 

Latin America

Papua New Guinea

Euphoria by Lily King 

Oceania

Paraguay

The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck

Latin America

Peru

The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright

Latin America

Philippines

When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe

Asia

Poland

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin

Europe

Portugal

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

Europe

Qatar

The Corsair by Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud 

Asia

Romania

Zaziban dih by Herta Müller ✮

Europe

Russia

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pastenak ✮

Europe

Rwanda

The Past Ahead by Gilbert Gatore ✮ 

Africa

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Receive Me Falling by Erika Robuck 

Latin America

Saint Lucia

Omeros by Derek Walcott 

Latin America

Samoa

Leaves of the Banyan Tree by Albert Wendt 

Oceania

San Marino

 

Europe

Sao Tome & Principe

Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares 

Africa

Saudi Arabia

My Thousand & One Nights: A Novel of Mecca by Raja Alem ✮ 

Asia

Senegal

God's Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène ✮

Africa

Serbia

A Tomb for Boris Davidovich by Danilo Kiš ✮

Europe

Seychelles

Brothers of the Seas by D.R. Sherman 

Africa

Sierra Leone

Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna

Africa

Singapore

The Bondmaid by Catherina Lim

Asia

Slovakia

Katarina by Kathryn Winter 

Europe

Slovenia

I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar ✮

Europe

Solomon Islands

Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors

Oceania

Somalia

The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed 

Africa

South Africa

Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer 

Africa

South Korea

Human Acts by Han Kang 

Asia

South Sudan

 

Africa

Spain

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 

Europe

Sri Lanka

Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan 

Asia

St. Vincent & Grenadines

Spirits in the Dark by H. Nigel Thomas 

Latin America

State of Palestine

Morning in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa 

Asia

Sudan

Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo 

Africa

Suriname

The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod 

Latin America

Sweden

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson 

Europe

Switzerland

The Bells by Richard Harvell 

Europe

Syria

The Dark Side of Love by Rafik Schami 

Asia

Tajikistan

Hurramabad by Andrei Volos ✮ 

Asia

Tanzania

Paradise by Adbulrazak Gurnah 

Africa

Thailand

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad 

Asia

Timor-Leste

The Canal House by Mark Lee 

Asia

Togo

 

Africa

Tonga

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener 

Oceania

Trinidad and Tobago

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey 

Latin America

Tunisia

The Pillar of Salt by Albert Memmi 

Africa

Turkey

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk ✮

Asia

Turkmenistan

The Tale of Aypi by Ak Welsapar ✮ 

Asia

Tuvalu

 

Oceania

Uganda

Where the Air is Sweet by Tasneen Jamal 

Africa

Ukraine

All That Is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon 

Europe

United Arab Emirates

The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash 

Asia

United Kingdom

The Handfasted Wife by Carol McGrath 

Europe

United States

Creek Mary's Blood by Dee Brown ✮

North America

Uruguay

The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis 

Latin America

Uzbekistan

The Railway by Hamid Ismailov 

Asia

Vanuatu

Pacific by Judy Nunn 

Oceania

Venezuela

Doña Barbara by Rómulo Gallegos ✮

Latin America

Vietnam

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Asia

Yemen

The Hostage by  Zayd Mutee' Dammaj ✮

Asia

Zambia

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell 

Africa

Zimbabwe

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini 

Africa

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