Culturosity® Learning Center > Articles > Stranger in a Strange Land - Book List

Article Options

Printable Version (PDF)
Back to Articles


Stranger in a Strange Land – Book List


Books that are insightful portrayals of cultures seen through the eyes of someone not from those cultures, or books that represent an interaction of contrasting cultures due to immigration, colonization, travel, and other experiences.



Compiled by Patti Digh, with input from members of the Intercultural Insights list serve and others…

  1. "Small Island" by Andrea Levy. (set before and around 1948. It is written from different view points, Jamaican and British and is a very enjoyable and insightful read.)

  2. The Zulu and the Zeide,” a short story by Don Jacobson, from a collection of the same name published in 1959. (An amazing piece about a young man arriving in Johsannesburg from his village and becoming the servant of an elderly Lithuanian Jewish man in apartheid South Africa. Two strangers lost in the same strange land who can't even communicate with each other. Excellent and heartbreaking on many levels.

  3. 1984 by George Orwell

  4. A Blessing On The Moon by Joseph Skibel

  5. A Martyr’s Crossing by Amy Wilentz  (American Jew marries an Israeli Jew and finds herself crossing the border between Israel and Palestine with a desperately ill son while her husband is in prison for political activity.)

  6. A Street in Marrakech by Elizabeth Fernea (an anthropologist who lived in the Arabic quarters of Marrakech for a year. Wonderful insights into women in an Arabic country.

  7. A Year in Provence, Toujours Provence and French Lessons – all by Peter Mayle

  8. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou (About her pilgrimage to Ghana and her experience there as an African-American)

  9. Peripheral Visions Learning Along the Way by Mary Catherine Bateson

  10. The Best American Travel Writing edited by Pico Iyer

  11. Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull (a light-hearted and insightful look at the experiences of an Australian reporter who goes to Paris to live with a
    Frenchman she met on holiday.)

  12. An American Brat by Bapsi Sidhwa.  (An adolescent is sent from Pakistan to the US for an education & confronts US values, etc.)

  13. Audrey Hepburn’s Neck by Alan Brown (unique perspective into modern Japan and its wartime past, also a shrewd study of cross-cultural obsessions, and of erotic, romantic and familial love.)
    Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott (published in 1880, imagines a two-dimensional world inhabited by sentient geometric shapes who think their planar world is all there is.)

  14. Becoming American: Personal Essays By First Generation Immigrant Women by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

  15. Blindness by Jose Saramago (A grim but incredible story about what happens when a man becomes blind and the blindness becomes contagious.... A different culture, living without sight -- but also fascinating in what people do when they fear they, too, may become blind).

  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  17. Ciao Pratola, Hello America by Elsa S. Cavallaro (A family of Italians in the U.S.) 
  18. Cousins by Patricia Grace. (Three Maori women negotiating in different ways the modern world and their Maori heritage).

  19. Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

  20. Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb (European Woman in Japan) 
  21. Giphantie by de la Roche (1720)

  22. Global Soul by Pico Iyer

  23. I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (Describes his return to the U.S. after 20 yrs in the U.K.)

  24. American Chica by Marie Arana

  25. True North by Jill Ker Conway (Includes her move from Australia to the US to study and then to Canada.  She observes particularly gender and academic cultural differences.)

  26. The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski  (Polish journalist who spent his career in Africa)

  27. A Poet's Bazaar by Hans Christian Andersen  (His travels in Turkey and up the Danube in 1840.)

  28. Edge of Daylight by Eddie Askew.  (His memoirs of years he (a Brit) spent with his family working with a leprosy mission in India.)

  29. The Devil that Danced on the Water by Aminatta Forna.  This book is many things:  a daughter's search for the truth, a family's memoirs, a history of Sierra Leone, a political science lesson on Africa, a story.

  30. Gulliver’s Travels by Dafoe

  31. Heaven Lake by John Dalton (Young missionary in Taiwan and China)

  32. House of Sand & Fog by Andre Dubus III (Each chapter told from culturally influenced perspectives on the same situation).

  33. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahri (Indians living in the U.S.)

  34. La Davina Comedia by Dante Alighieri

  35. Land Below The Wind by Agnes Newton Keith
    (The story of American born Agnes and her British, Parks Department husband. It covers the first years, pre-WW2, of their life in Sabah, Borneo - her two subsequent novels: 'Three Came Home' and 'Return of the White Man' are also wonderfully compelling).

  36. Lord of the Flies by William Golding 

  37. Metropolis by Fritz Lang

  38. Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen (Chinese in America)

  39. Nein by Walter Jens

  40. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Rhodesian girls caught between two cultures)

  41. Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody, William Hoffer  (An American woman marries an Islamic Iranian and her and her daughter fight to get out or Iran (illegally).  Not uplifting—and could reinforce stereotypes about fundamental Islam so would use it carefully.)

  42. Ourika by Claire de Duras (Set in France during the French Revoluation, published in 1923. Based on a true account of a Senegalese girl rescued from slavery and raised by an aristocratic French family.)

  43. Passage to India by E.M. Forster

  44. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian immigrant to the U.S.) 
  45. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Southern Baptist missionary family in the Congo in 1959)

  46. Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures by Kyoko Mori (Japanese woman in U.S. culture)

  47. Postville by Stephen Bloom (a Kosher slaughterhouse run by ultra-religious Jews sets up shop in the middle of Iowa - true story

  48. R.U.R. by Karel Capek  (a play - introduced the word "robot" into English and looks to a future in which all workers are automatons. They revolt when they acquire souls (i.e., when they gain the ability to hate) and the resulting catastrophe make for a powerful and deeply moving theatrical experience.)

  49. Second Class Citizen by Erica Bauermeister (An autobiographical novel, Second Class Citizen follows its main character, Adah, through her years in Nigeria and England.)

  50. She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan (Biographical story by a professor at Colby College about living life in a man's body, but feeling that s/he is really a woman inside - a different angle of immersion in another culture)

  51. The Aleph by Jorge Borges

  52. The Bend in the River by V S Naipaul (Indians in Africa)

  53. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Orthodox Jews living in the U.S., where their religious ways clash with the ways of other American Jewish communities, e.g. the Reform and Conservative Jews).

  54. The Enigma of Arrival by V. S. Naipaul (a journey across cultural borders, a journey from one of the more marginal outposts of a former empire to the once-imperial center)

  55. The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It by Mark Twain. Also by Mark Twain: "Tom Sawyer Abroad: By Huck Finn", "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur)", "A Tramp Abroad", and “Following the Equator”

  56. The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur (Indian student in the U.S.)

  57. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (thought provoking prose on a different cross cultural experience that can occur in our own minds)

  58. The Names by Don De Lillo (The book that seemed to me the most realistically intercultural – at least with regard to US expatriates. Also a curiously rambling mystery in a mystery and, as the title indicates, a reflection on language, languages and identity. None of this is too explicit but it’s all there. The novel also contains a nice and suitably ambiguous mix of business and politics. Places concerned: Greece, Israel and India.)

  59. The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer (White African woman/Black African man.  She picks him up and their worlds collide…)

  60. The Stranger by Alfred Schutz

  61. Time Machine by Jules Verne

  62. Typical American by Gish Jen (Chinese in America)

  63. Utopia by Sir Thomas More


A list of 80 books that portray cultures in fiction from Marcella Simon




African American/ Caribbean American

1.       Terry Mc Millan, Mama

2.       Marita Golden, A Long Distance Life

3.       Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler (memoirs)

4.       Gloria Naylor, Mama Day

5.       Breena Clarke, River Cross My Heart (family in DC)

6.       Bebe Moore Campbell, Brothers and Sisters (interracial relationships)

7.       Toni Cade Bambara, These Bones Are Not My Child (Atlanta child murders)

8.       Eric Jerome Dickey, Milk in My Coffee (interracial romance)

9.       Nelson George, Urban Romance (Buppies in NYC)

10.   Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy (West Indian immigrant to US)


11.   .Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street

12.   Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban (Cubans in NY, Miami)

13.   Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Dominicans in US)

14.   Ana Castillo, So Far From God

15.   Daniel Revelez, Salsa and Chips

16.   Francisco Jimenez, The Circuit: Stories of a Migrant Child

17.   Marcos McPeck Villatoro, The Holy Spirit of My Uncle’s Cojones

18.   John Nichols, The Milagro Beanfield War (SW US)

Asian American

19.   Gus Lee, China Boy

20.   Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land

21.   Maxine Hong Kingston, Warrior Woman

22.   Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses

23.   John Okada, No-No Boy (Japanese WWII era)

24.   Cynthia Kadohata, The Floating World (Japanese)

25.   Chang Rae Lee, Native Speaker

Native American

26.   Emily Benedek, Beyond the 4 Corners of the World (Navajo)

27.   Michael Dorris, Yellow Raft on Blue Water

28.   Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

29.   Frank Waters, The Man Who Shot The Deer

30.   Susan Power, The Grass Dancer

European American

31.   Catherine Temma Davidson, The Priest Fainted (Greek-American goes to Greece)

32.   Frank McCourt, ‘Tis (Irish immigrant in US)

33.   Ursula Hegi, The Vision of Emma Blau (German immigrants in US)

Sub-Saharan Africa

34.   Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Nigerian classic)

35.   Buchi Emecheta, The Moonlight Bride

36.   Ben Okri, The Famished Road (Nigeria)

37.   Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy or Kaffir Boy in America (S. African student in US)

38.   Maryse Conde, Segu (historical drama, pan-Africa)

39.   Nazipo Maraire, Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter (Zimbabwean student in UK)

Middle East/North Africa

40.   Naguib Mafouz, Midaq Alley (Egypt)

41.   Ahdaf Soueif, In the Eye of the Sun (Egyptian student in UK)

42.   Yashar Kemal, Memed, My Hawk (Turkey)

43.   Gina Barkhordar Nahai, Cry of the Peacock (Jews in Iran)

44.   Hilary Mantel, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (Saudi Arabia)

45.   Abdelrahman Munif, Cities of Salt (Saudi Arabia)

46.   Amos Oz, Don’t Call It Night (Israel)

47.   Batya Goor, Murder on a Kibbutz (Israel) 



48.   Miyuke Miyabe, All She Was Worth (Japanese detective novel)

49.   Haruki Murakami, The Windup Bird Chronicle

50.   Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen (younger generation in Japan)

51.   Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills (Japanese in UK)


52.   Jung Chang, Wild Swans (4 generations of Chinese women)

53.   Timothy Mo, Sour Sweet (Chinese immigrants in UK)

54.   Yang Gang, Daughter

55.   Han Suyin, Till Morning Comes (US-China Romamce)

SE Asia

56.   Anthony Burgess, The Long Day Wanes: Malayan Trilogy (last days of empire)

57.   Pramoedya Ananta Toer, House of Glass (Indonesia under Dutch rule)

58.   Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters (Philippines)

South Asia

59.   Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (Pakistani immigrants to UK)

60.   Bapsi Sidwa, An American Brat (Pakistani student in US)

61.   Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine (Indian immigrant to US)

62.   Bharti Kirchner, Sharmila’s Book (Indian-American goes to India)

63.   Bhargavi Mandava, Where the Oceans Meet

Australia/ New Zealand

64.   Keri Hulme, The Bone People (Maoris in New Zealand)

65.   Alan Duff, Once Were Warriors (Maoris in New Zealand)

66.   Alice Nannup, When the Pelican Laughed (Australian natives)

67.   Jill Ker Conway, The Road From Coorain (memoirs from the outback to the US)

Latin America/ Caribbean

68.   Ariel Dorfman, Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey (memoirs of a playwright)

69.   Harriet Doerr, Consider This Senora (US Americans in Mexico)

70.   Tony Cohan, On Mexican Time (US Americans in Mexico)

71.   Francisco Goldman, The Long Night of White Chickens

72.   Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

73.   Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman

74.   Isabel Allende, House of the Spirits (Chile)

75.   Jorge Amado, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

76.   Manlio Argueta, Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District

77.   Roberto Quesada, The Big Banana

78.   Andrea Levy, Never Far From Nowhere (West Indians in UK)


79.   Peter Hoeg, Smilia’s Sense of Snow (Iceland immigrants in Denmark)

80.   Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation (memoirs, Polish immigrant to Canada)


 This article may be reprinted with the author’s permission. Please contact us with reprinting requests.

<back to top>


Copyright © 2003-2007 / All rights reserved.
Last modified: 02-Nov-2007 - Sitemap