Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 9

Finally ready to get to the second to the last ear lobe of our journey. These countries are getting more remote and difficult to find books set there. Lots of work ahead! You tip the Sky Captain this time, will you?

161. Congo. As far as settings for novels, there seems to be little difference between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the plain Republic of Congo. (map on page two of this linked document shows that they are two separate countries. And I had found several books that interested me when I looked at the Congo as a location. The Witch Doctor’s Wife (Amanda Brown series #1) by Tamar Myers has everything you expect from Africa: daring rescues, diamonds, mystery, diamonds, intrigue, and diamonds.

162. Sao Tome & Principe. Slavery has been around as long as people found it worth while to subjugate weaker people to do what needed to be done. America has no copyright on the process, but we certainly helped make it profitable for many. In Sao Tome: Journey to the Abyss – Portugal’s Stolen Children, Paul D. Cohn explores the time in history when the Portuguese royals and the Catholic Church “exported” Jewish children to the sugar cane fields on Sao Tome. It’s 1485 when this practise begins, and soon the discovery of The New World impacts slavery, sugar production, and exploration of the Americas. Told from the point of view of a young boy and his sister, taken from their synagogue in Lisbon, this emotionally charged drama is historical fiction at its finest.

163. Benin. Is it the heat that makes stories in Africa and South America grim? I know that’s not true, it’s the basic human nature unchecked by love or kindness at work. Slavery and war and making money from the suffering of others is the basic story behind The Viceroy of Ouidan by Bruce Chatwin. Yes, that Bruce Chatwin. One reviewer liked the ‘multitude of minutia” in this novel.

164. Togo. In my youth, a friend of the family had a baby out of wedlock (this was not done in those days, or if done, was not talked about). The friend left the baby to be raised by her parents while she went off with the Peace Corp to do some growing up. I can’t imagine what her life was like, but this book can bring to me a sense of her adventures. Greetings From Jungleland by Michael Fortner recounts his adventures, and the best part is, some of the profits from book sales will go to the specific village where he worked.

165. Ghana. More series books! If you are like me, you hate to come to the end of a good book. So authors invented series! The trilogy came first, but now we are less constrained by that arbitrary number. I think Douglas Adams had something to do with that. Kwei Quartey writes the Darko Dawson stories, and after I got over thinking his name was just a typographic error, I found the idea of a motherless child growing up to be a detective fascinating. Wife of the Gods.

166. Cote d’Ivoire. On first glance at the summary of this book, I thought it was only about a white man in Africa trying to get laid. But that seems to be just one theme running through this rich tapestry of reasons people have to hate each other. One review says it’s “raw, interesting, tragic, beautiful, and funny.” Something for the whole family. Whiteman by Tony D’Souza.

167. Burkina Faso. Yes, this is the first time I have ever heard of this country. So a story about a self-involved 15-year-old boy being sent there for misbehavior at school, and getting into a major scrape sounds like a good way to get to know the history and personality of this desert country. Outlaw by Stephen Davies is described by one reviewer as “Robin Hood with technology.”

168. Liberia. Kids books can be great reading for adults, especially in learning about far-away places. Mamba Point by Kurtis Scarletta has an awesome premise. That which you fear most can become your greatest asset.

169. Sierra Leone. Probably the country most likely to be wrongly assigned to South America, Sierra Leone is actually in Africa. And is in the heart of some of the worst military aggressions on the planet. This is the story of one boy who became a soldier against his will. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is told through glimpses he shares of his life with his American schoolmates. None of whom can guess at the true scope of his stolen life. One reviewer said, “I will never. Never. Complain about my childhood again.”

170. Guinea. Touted as a classic of African literature, The Dark Child by Camara Laye is another boyhood story from the continent that is least understood and most exploited throughout history. An autobiography, it stands out as an excellent work of literature.

171. Senegal. We can all use nonjudgmental friends. And who more than a widow whose heart overflows with sorrow? Told in the form of a letter to a friend, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ recounts the struggle of one woman through emotional turmoil for basic survival. Originally written in French, I imagine it will be best in that language, but still makes an impact as translated. Sadly, the author passed away in 1981.

172. Mali. Here we see 13th century assassins and heros, theives and conspirators, and actual history used to craft a story that deals with the continuation of life. An oath or pact made by warrior brothers continues on through their lives, the need to have an heir continues on through the lives of the children of these warriors. Sanakhou by Elizabeth Evans. I think this book will really take off once it is “discovered.”

173. Mauritania. A close contender for the geographical challenge, as it sounds like a country that should be in Europe somewhere. However, Travels in Mauritania by Peter Hudson is firmly set in that African nation, and is an excellent recounting of his travels. Not an adventure book as such, it is an adventure of the widely traveled author in meeting the world at large.

174. Western Sahara. This country challenged me to find a book that took place there. As I learned, this is disputed land, with Morocco and Mauritania as chief players. In Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate, Erik Jensen takes a close look at all the players, and recounts the history of the struggle toward sovereignty. One of these days, I am going to write a romance in that setting.

175. Cape Verde. So many of the books set in Cape Verde are about people getting the heck out of there. So I was pleased to find The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida. Leading a secret life on a small island country isn’t easy, and I can’t wait to read how this was accomplished.

176. Gibraltar. This is on my to read SOON list! The writers I hang out with on Scribophile and in RWA talk about the characters taking over the story. I’ve had the same thing happen when one of my characters revealed something about her past that blew me away. Now imagine that a character expects you to rewrite the story and have things work out with less conflict and stress. Tumbling Through Time by Gwyn Cready is right up my reading alley.

177. Malta. The past is never what it seems. That makes perfect sense, because history is written by the winners. In The Sea of Forgotten Memories (A Maltese Thriller), Federico Chini explores a family where a death occurs in each generation. Murder or accident?

178. Faroe Islands. Another place I had never heard of before, and now can’t wait to visit some day. In the meantime, I want to read The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson. The story delivers on every level. And here’s a great article by the author on why he picked this location.

179. Hawaii. Much as I love America, the annexing of Hawaii and the destruction of the Hawaiian culture will always shame me. People like to say the country has gotten worse, but greed has always been a motivational force. However, the book I picked is a fluffy romance, because I feel the subject of Hawaiian independence has not been properly told yet. The Ross Siblings series book #1, Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn looks at what happens when a man’s best friend’s husband runs off with his fiance. Oh, just read it.

180. Macau. So many stories to choose here, but I thought ending this lobe on a happy note would be best. The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is filled with conflict and stress, but in the end there is all the tea in China. “A scrumptious story of love, friendship, and renewal.”

Have a few macaroons and buy a few post cards. We have a couple more weeks of fun travel by book. And on Wednesday, something silly this way comes.

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