With many travel restrictions still far from lifting, this summer may look bleak - but it doesn’t have to be.
From magical realism to war stories and romances, the following books are set in sunny destinations across the world. With each book a rich world unto its own, these are perfect for escapism as you lie in your garden with a cold drink in hand this summer.
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
A magical realist modern classic, Rushdie’s novel follows the stories of children born on the night of India’s independence.
These children are endowed with powers of telepathy and more, with their lives charted against the early years of their young nation, through Partition and the Indira Gandhi era.
The novel balances the beauty and rich cultures of India with its fraught history, making for a holistic reading experience.
A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Widely considered Marquez’s most recognisable novel, A Hundred Years of Solitude follows the multi-generational story of the Buendia dynasty.
Set in the fictional town of Macondo in Colombia, the story goes from the town’s conception to its fall. Another magic realist novel, it goes from triumph and love to loss and grief, a gorgeous rendition of the human experience.
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre has been a classic for over a century. It’s the story of an orphaned girl who escapes her abusive aunt to become the governess at a wealthy manor house, only to fall in love with its master and find his mentally unstable wife locked in the attic.
While Jane Eyre skims over the story of this original wife, Bertha, Rhys reimagines her tale in the West Indies. A tale of race and resentment post-abolition, Wide Sargasso Sea’s idyllic setting is key to its twisting of perspectives.
An Ice Cream War, William Boyd
Mention of World War One often brings to mind men in trenches in mainland Europe. In An Ice Cream War, Boyd turns this on its head, looking at the war in East Africa with humour and brutal honesty, presenting horrific loss with a human face.
The novel interweaves multiple narratives, from an English family to Kenyan farmers and a German couple. At the heart of the story lies brotherly love and mercy, striking a balance between darkness and hope.
Love in Colour, Bolu Babalola
Bolu Babalola’s literary debut, Love in Colour, is a collection of short stories about love and romance.
The collection includes stories from across the world, from West Africa to Greece. With its format making it easy to dip in and out of, each story is a vivid microcosm of multiple worlds, perfect for escapism.
Some Prefer Nettles, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Some Prefer Nettles follows the story of a family in a post-war Japan being pulled to and fro by the forces of Westernisation and the country’s strong traditional history. Two central characters, Kaname and Misako, realise that their marriage is drifting towards divorce.
As they grapple with their future, their son, Hiroshi, remains blissfully unaware. Preoccupied with performance and bunraku theatre, a form of Japanese puppetry, the tale examines culture and identity as a performance in and of itself, from the domestic sphere to the wider social stage.
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