Books for a better cultural understanding

Five books that helped Andreas Salcher to understand other cultures

1. Ivo Andric: “The Bridge over the Drina
In contrast to a classic novel with the usual principal characters, this book is a chronicle of the Balkans, artfully blending myths and legends, tales and farces in an intricate pattern. Just like an oriental storyteller, Andric blends a series of human fates with reflections on time, conflating all in the notion of the bridge as a symbol for joining opposites.

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2. Ryszard Kapuscinski: “The Emperor
The legendary polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski managed to show just that in his extraordinary parable about absolute power with his portrait of the “King of Kings”, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

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3. Nelson Mandela: “Long Walk to Freedom
This is a book about man’s greatness and capacity for suffering that leaves the readers finding themselves putting their own problems humbly into perspective when they look at the story of a man who had to spend most of his life in prison. In addition, Mandela touches his readers with an impressively high literary quality.

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4. Kiran Nagarkar: “God’s Little Soldier
Indian writer Kiran Nagarkar created a magnificent novel about the nature of fundamentalism in all religions. The readers are seduced into slipping into the mind of an ingenious terrorist and sharing his adventures in Mumbai, London, California, or Kabul.

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5. David van Reybrouck: “Congo
Van Reybrouck tells the history of the Congo in an engrossing and spectacular way – like we have never seen it before. Covering the epoch from Leopold II’s colonial terror regime through the 32 years of Mobutu’s dictatorship up until the present day, the author takes the impressive perspective of the people who spend their lives suffering and fighting in that country: The focus is on the dreams, hopes and hardships of the so-called common people.