Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Books that accurately depict the culture

I recently read two incredible books that stunned me with how well they capture the culture of the characters on the page.

The two books I read are Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson and Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan. (Khan blogs at Khanversations.)

Blessing's Bead is set in Alaska in the Inupiaq culture and Wanting Mor is set in Afghanistan. Both liberally sprinkle foreign words in the text, but the reader will never be confused. Both books let me experience culture and life I am unfamiliar with.

Writers often talk about setting. Culture includes setting and characters and action. It is vitally important to get the culture correct, as readers will believe that details inside fictional stories are fact.

In both of these books, each author is very familiar with the culture depicted and has lived either within the culture or has much of the same cultural background. Both authors asked those who live inside the culture they depict to read their stories so everything would be accurate. (Mentioned on their acknowledgment pages.)

I strongly recommend both of these books. They are extremely well crafted, and tell good stories about realistic characters.

I have lived in six very different cultures, ranging from Brazil to Finland to China. Because of my experiences I appreciate books that accurately deal with a variety of cultures, books that allow readers to travel somewhere they can't go in real life.


Vonna said...

I love books that introduce me to different cultures, but only when the depiction is authentic. Thanks for introducing two such books.

Sarah Blake Johnson said...

You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I was blown away by both of these books.

Another author you should check out who writes authentic stories set in another culture is Uma Krishnaswami.

Anne M Leone said...

Great recommendations, thank you!