The Edmonton Heritage Festival is one of the most popular summer festivals in our great festival city! In the past, it has featured about 60 pavilions representing more than 75 cultures. Since its inception, attendance at the festival has steadily increased with a record of up to 420,000 people in 2006. Of course, the biggest draw is the wide variety of tasty food from cultures across the globe.
If you want to explore cultures in other ways, try reading books and literature from different countries. Check out this selection of books by international writers, from classic novels that have stood the test of time to new voices by young authors.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
An unforgettable story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority.
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, 2001, The Idea of Perfection is a witty and tender romance about two people who have given up on love. Set in the eccentric backwater of Karakarook, Australia (population 1,374), it tells the story of Douglas Cheeseman, a gawky engineer with jug-handle ears, and Harley Savage, a woman altogether too big and too abrupt for comfort.
The Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The first volume in Mahfouz Naguib's Cairo Trilogy, The Palace Walk examines middle-class life just after World War I, following the joys and sorrows of the Abd al-Ahmad family during the revolutionary years 1917-19.
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire's mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother's grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life.
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, an "elegant and haunting novel of war, art and memory" (The Independent) from critically acclaimed author Tan Twan Eng. Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes.”
In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.
The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
In Soviet Moscow, God is dead, but the devil…is very much alive. As death and destruction spread through the city like wildfire, condemning Moscow's cultural elite to prison cells and body bags, only a madman, the Master, and Margarita, his beautiful, courageous lover, can hope to end the chaos. Both a satirical romp and a daring analysis of the nature of good and evil, innocence and guilt, The Master and the Margarita is the crowning achievement of one of the greatest Russian writers of the twentieth century.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets—an epic story of murder, madness and doomed love.
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
In sixteenth-century Istanbul, a furor erupts when the Sultan hires a group of artists to illuminate a great book in the European style at a time in which all figurative art is considered Islamic heresy, but the situation becomes worse when one of the miniaturists vanishes.
I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali
Nujood Ali's childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband's hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom—an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married under the legal age.
If you're inspired to read even more around the world, check out these book lists: