The best non-western books according to TiU students
At European universities, non-western literature is often neglected. That’s why The Guardian recently decided to compile a list of African, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern books that every student should read. The titles on that list were hand-picked by successful contemporary authors. But what do students think? Univers asked students of Tilburg University which works they believe should be on the list of non-western must-reads.
Absent by Betool Khedairi, So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba and Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz are all considered masterpieces. But in the Netherlands and other western countries, these books are not part of the traditional canon – and, as a result, they are missing from most students’ bookshelves. The Guardian recently published a list of 9 non-western books that every student should read. But according to students of Tilburg University, this list compiled by contemporary authors is far from complete. Here are some of the works they believe deserve to be added.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
In October 2012, a Taliban fighter jumped onto a school bus and shouted “Who is Malala?”. He shot a 14-year-old girl named Malala Yousafzai in the head for speaking out in favor of education for girls. She survived, and wrote a compelling memoir about her life in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley of Pakistan: I am Malala. The book was published in 2013 and received acclaim from all corners of the world. At the age of 17, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner for her struggle against the oppression of girls and women.
Suggested by Dóra Zupka
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood revolves around a university student named Toru Watanabe, whose life is shattered by the suicide of his one true friend. Set in Japan in the 1960s, Haruki Murakami’s novel is a beautiful story about youth, love and loss. It was first published in 1987, and made into a movie in 2010.
Suggested by Heleen Dijkhuizen
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah is the third novel authored by Chimamamanda Ngozi Adichie. It tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who moves to the United States to study, where she is confronted with her blackness. It’s a hundreds of pages long interrogation of race, identity, gender, love and ‘good hair’, written with tremendous pace and energy. Americanah is gripping, funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Suggested by Bruna Brilhante
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The Art of War is a two-thousand-year-old book, reputedly written by the ancient Chinese military leader Sun Tzu. In Asia, rulers consulted The Art of War for centuries in times of war or imperial conquest. But this ancient guide to military strategy remains a classic. Today, it’s particularly popular in the world of business. Managers and CEOs from all parts of the world look to The Art of War for advice on leadership and strategy. After all, business is war.
Suggested by Vlad Neaçsu
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
The Glass Palace is a historical novel set in south-central Asia, written by Indian author Amitav Ghosh. The novel spans over a century, taking the reader on a journey through India, Burma, Bengal and Malay from the collapse of the Konbaung Dynasty in the late 1800s to modern times. It took Ghosh five years to write The Glass Palace. It was published in 2000 and translated into more than 25 languages.
Suggested by Lydia Ry
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The Famished Road by Nigerian author Ben Okri tells the story of Azaro. Azaro is an ‘abiku’, or spirit child, from the ghetto of an unnamed city in Africa. Shifting between a magical dream world and the harsh reality of the African slums, The Famished Road is a compelling page-turner that addresses social and political issues in a brilliant way.
Suggested by Annalisa Smirnova
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshun Hamid
In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a bearded Pakistani tells his life story to an American stranger in a cafe in Lahore. Author Moshun Hamid addresses issues of cultural identity, belonging, xenophobia and the September 11 attacks, while at the same time telling a beautifully written love story. The 2007 novel was made into a film in 2010.
Suggested by Yasir Dewan
The Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana
The Kama Sutra is an ancient text written by the Indian philosopher Vatsyayana. It dates back 1600 years, but it’s still a well-known book. Most people know the Kama Sutra as a sex manual that teaches positions for those seeking to spice up their love lives. But if you actually read this ancient text, you will find that the Kama Sutra is much more than a sex guide. Although sexuality holds a central place in this ancient work, the Kama Sutra is primarily a guide to a virtuous life and harmonious relationships.
Suggested by Camiel Kuijpers