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Bookshelf Nominations > Bookshelf Nominations: IN THE TROPICS

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message 1: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Just was browsing the February GR newsletter, and saw Alexander McCall-Smith's list of Books Set In The Tropics: https://www.goodreads.com/interviews/...

I think we can do better than this list. I think we can build a better bookshelf.

It's a topic that's close to my heart for obvious reasons. When I moved up here to Townsville, I brought every book I could find with a tropical theme with me. I have to admit that I've ended up reading very few of them. Lord of the Flies was about as far as I got, and it wouldn't be my recommendation (though it might be someone else's).

Any suggestions for best books set in the tropics?

I think we'll assume The Comedians is a given.


message 2: by Mari (new)

Mari (silvicultrix) Some suggestions, on the assumptions that a) the tropics is defined as more or less the region between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, and b) it's ok if the book is set at least in part in this region:

Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide, set in the Sundarbans (Bengal)

John le Carré's The Constant Gardener, set in part in part in Kenya, (and, of course, The Tailor of Panama)

Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, set in part in Mexico

And if poetry is ok too:
David Dabydeen's amazing Turner: New and Selected Poems, with a Middle Passage setting

Derek Walcott's Omeros, set in part on St. Lucia

This is a very broad category though, and many of the classics set in India, Africa and Latin America would also fit the bill.


message 3: by Mari (last edited Feb 11, 2014 08:03AM) (new)

Mari (silvicultrix) And of course Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible (set in the Congo) has to be on this list too!


message 4: by CD (new)

CD  | 121 comments Graham Greene in Our Man in Havana produces a story that many prefer to The Comedians.

The Year of Living Dangerously is one of my favorites and is set in Indonesia. Politics, heat, love, hate, prejudice, death, and gin. What else do you need??

A non-fiction memoir type of book that I recently read that combines the culture clash of 'the tropics' with travellers and explorers on a humanitarian mission is
Eleanor Stanford's História, História: Two Years in the Cape Verde Islands.

There is of course the old standard, James A. Michener's Hawaii. And then there is the modern story from the islands, The Descendants from author Kaui Hart Hemmings. Hemmings has a collection of Hawaiian short stories that is sitting in my to read pile, House of Thieves.

There is another classic that has that tropical flavor in Treasure Island.

The Mosquito Coast and State of Wonder are tropical jungle adventures with more than slight elements of psychological intrigue.

Then there is the book that for the English language may be the finest written 'tropical' work, Joseph Conrad's , yes, wait for it ....

Heart of Darkness.

That's all for now.


message 5: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Some great picks there, and yes - I think it's fine to take a really loose definition of both "the tropics" and "set in".


message 6: by Mari (new)

Mari (silvicultrix) The Grass is Singing is set in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe); some of Doris Lessing's other novels and short stories are also set here.

Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is definitely worth a read and this list would be incomplete without some African classics, but I don't know which of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o or Chinua Achebe's great novels to choose. Then there's of course Nervous Conditions, as well as books by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie, Dambudzo Marechera, etc. etc.


message 7: by Richard (new)

Richard Any Carl Hiaasen books are worth throwing in there, sweaty mangroves, bizarre comedy and strippers. haven't read him for years but used to enjoy him a lot.


message 8: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
These are great - I'm going to have to have a proper browse through all those booklinks.

I'm also going to have to ask that people stick their necks out & nominate specific books though, please, instead of mentioning authors. I can't put an author on the group's bookshelf! :)


message 9: by Richard (new)

Richard Native Tongue
Skin Tight
Strip Tease

the 3 best Hiaasen books as far as I recall. All nice and sweaty and slippery.

Skin Tight was turned into a pretty bland movie that Demi Moore was paid a fortune for and Burt Reynolds and Ving Rhames embarassed themselves in


message 10: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
I figure my life is complete since The Comedians made the early cut. And Native tongue is my favorite Hiaasen, so down with that, and I also loved God of Small Things. (Basically, I'm not needed here.)

For Marechera, my recommendation would be The House of Hunger, and I'd also like to add My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.


message 11: by Richard (new)

Richard Mental note, must get around to reading The God of Small Things one of these days


message 12: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Maybe The Drowned World: A Novel....its very hot, lots of water....the whole planet is rather...tropical...


message 13: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "Maybe The Drowned World: A Novel....its very hot, lots of water....the whole planet is rather...tropical..."

Great outside the box nomination!


message 14: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "Maybe The Drowned World: A Novel....its very hot, lots of water....the whole planet is rather...tropical..."

That's the way. If you can't get to the tropics, bring 'em to you!


message 15: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Whitney wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "Maybe The Drowned World: A Novel....its very hot, lots of water....the whole planet is rather...tropical..."

Great outside the box nomination!"


It the closest I could come up with.


message 16: by Ed (new)

Ed (swampyankee) | 19 comments Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Certainly dated in many of the attitudes portrayed, but still rather critical of the "civilizing" influence of Europeans.

I'm not sure if South Africa counts as tropical, but Cry, The Beloved Country, by Alan Paton.

Parts of Mexico are tropical, although not where Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquival, was set.

I don't read much current mainstream literature, so that puts a severe constraint on my choices ;)


message 17: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "I don't read much current mainstream literature, so that puts a severe constraint on my choices ;) ..."

Ouch! I'm not sure there are that many of us who would consider ourselves to read "current mainstream literature" either!

Oh, and please use book title links in group posts. (see "add book/author" link above the comments field)


message 18: by Doug (new)

Doug Hendrie (doughendrie) | 6 comments What about KAPUSCINSKI RYSZARD? Pretty much all his work is tropical-based - and the best reportage I've ever read.


message 19: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "What about KAPUSCINSKI RYSZARD? Pretty much all his work is tropical-based - and the best reportage I've ever read."

Nice. But dear gods why is his name in all caps?! I'd edit it myself, but I don't trust my spelling of Polish names. And I don't know how to make all those punctuation marks.


message 20: by Doug (new)

Doug Hendrie (doughendrie) | 6 comments Oh. Some kind of magic Goodreads spell has capped him up and swapped his name. Lemme try again: The Shadow of the Sun


message 21: by Doug (new)

Doug Hendrie (doughendrie) | 6 comments That's my fave of his.


message 22: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "That's my fave of his."

Reading his wiki page, he seems like an interesting character.


message 23: by Doug (new)

Doug Hendrie (doughendrie) | 6 comments Yeah - the only Polish correspondent for decades, with a knack for getting to places where riots or revolutions were taking place.


message 24: by Doug (new)

Doug Hendrie (doughendrie) | 6 comments Plus an extraordinary writer.


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