Read Around the World: Kazakhstan to Lesotho

We’re well into our blog series now, storming through the world alphabetically as we read around the world, featuring a book from every country in the world. We’ll work alphabetically through all the countries in the world and add in some smaller countries and islands too, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe!

We’ll work alphabetically and the last list ended at Japan, with more than one hundred countries down now, we’re starting this list at Kazakhstan.

Join us on our literary world trip as we read around the world in more than 200 books.


Once in Kazakhstan – Keith Rosten

In Once in Kazakhstan, Rosten draws a sometimes humorous portrait of a critical period in the emergence of this Central Asian country, interweaving the challenges and exhilaration of living in Kazakhstan with the historical backdrop of a nation grappling with its independence.

Once in Kazakhstan

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A Grain of Wheat – wa Thiong’o, Ngugi

Set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya’s independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency. At the center of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village’s chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret.

A Grain of Wheat

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The Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals

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The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo – Paula Huntley

The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo isn’t just a story of Kosovo, it’s a tale of how literature can bridge gaps and bring people together even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo

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The Bamboo Stalk – Saud Alsanousi

Josephine Mendoza escapes poverty by coming to Kuwait from the Philippines to work as a maid, where she meets Rashid, an idealistic only son with literary aspirations. Josephine, with all the wide-eyed naivety of youth, believes she has found true love. But when she becomes pregnant, and with the rumble of war growing ever louder, Rashid bows to family and social pressure, and sends her back home with her baby son, José.

The Bamboo Stalk

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Jamila – Chingiz Aitmatov

A story of love as a young Kyrgyz woman who in spite of obsolete patriarchal customs and traditions boldly goes towards love, written in a way that will interest those who are keen to learn more about this Central Asian country.


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The Merit Birds – Kelley Powell

Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He’s angry about his absent dad, he’s angry about being angry, and he’s angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam’s anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged “merit birds” until tragedy strikes.

The Merit Birds

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With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows – Sandra Kalniete

Sandra Kalniete was born in a Siberian village in 1952 to Latvian parents who had been banished by the Soviet regime. After Stalin’s death, she and her family were allowed to return to Latvia in 1957. This is her story.

With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows

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An Unnecessary Woman – Rabih Almaddine

Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family’s ‘unnecessary appendage’. Every year, she translates a new favourite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read – by anyone.

An Unnecessary Woman

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She Plays with the Darkness – Zakes Mda

In a remote mountain village in Lesotho, the beautiful Dikosha lives for dancing and for song, setting herself apart from her fellow villagers. Her twin brother, Radisene, works in the lowland capital of Maseru, struggling amid political upheaval to find a life for himself away from the hills. As the years pass, Radisene’s fortunes rise and fall in the city, while Dikosha remains in the village, never leaving and never aging. And through it all, the community watches, comments, and passes judgment.

She Plays with the Darkness

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We hope you’re enjoying this new blog series, we’ll be back with the next journey through literature in a few days, starting with Liberia.

As the series continues, you can try this search to find the rest of the blogs in this series. Alternatively if you’re looking for a specific country so far we have covered:

Afghanistan to Aruba

Australia to Belize

Benin to British Virgin Islands

Brunei to Central African Republic

Chad to Cuba

Curaçao to Egypt

El Salvador to Finland

France to Greece

Grenada to Hungary

Iceland to Japan

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