Like to combine reading and travel? We've got just the picks for you. The editors at Condé Nast Traveler recently asked foreign ambassadors to the US for the one book they would recommend visitors to their home countries read before their trip. Their answers range from historical classics to modern thrillers. Where will you read next?
“The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop. Its quiet wisdom and sincerity resonated with me very deeply." —His Excellency Wolfgang A. Waldner
His Excellency Elin Suleymanov recommends Ali and Nino, written in 1937 by Kurban Said, which tells the love story of a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku from 1918 to 1920.
“War and Turpentine is a book about three generations of Belgians, focusing on the legacy of WWI and Belgium’s exceptional painters. Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, War and Turpentine is the absolute companion book for any art and history lover traveling to Belgium.” —His Excellency Dirk Wouters
“La Casa de Los Espíritus [The House of the Spirits] depicts the recent past and memories from a landowner’s point of view, and his daughter’s, mingled with social and political issues of the 1970s." —His Excellency Juan Gabriel Valdés
His Excellency Juan Carlos Pinzón recommends 1967's One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family.
“Smilla’s Sense of Snow is a fictional mystery set in Copenhagen. It is a book that touches on issues such as Danish culture versus Greenlandic and the related issues of language and identity." —His Excellency Lars Gert Lose
“The Man Who Spoke Snakish is an exploration of alternative history by a well-loved contemporary author." —His Excellency Eerik Marmei
His Excellency Geir H. Haarde recommends Independent People, which tells the story of sheep farmer Guðbjartur Jónsson and his struggle for independence.
Her Excellency Anne Anderson recommends Colum McCann's TransAtlantic, which tells the intertwined stories of the first non-stop transatlantic fliers in 1919; the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland in 1845/46; and the story of the 1998 Irish peace process.
“The Harry Hole series is about the “anti-hero" Harry Hole, a dedicated but disillusioned police detective." —His Excellency Kåre R. Aas
His Excellency Božo Cerar recommends Drago Jančar's 2010 book I Saw Her That Night, which explores the disappearance of a young bourgeois woman from Ljubljana during a turbulent period in history.
“Nordic Ways is a new anthology of essays, edited by Debra Cagan. It came out last fall and is representative of all five Nordic countries. It describes life in the North from different perspectives." —His Excellency Björn Lyrvall
"Published in 2001, this is a literary tour de force, set in three time periods: 1935 England, the Second World War, and the turn of the millennium. The story is constructed around a half-innocent lie, told by a 13-year-old girl, that destroys lives and shatters a family. It addresses momentous themes—love, war, the hold of the past over the present—while capturing to perfection moments from Britain’s recent past, whether an English country house summer between the wars, or the horrors of the retreat from Dunkirk." —His Excellency Kim Darroch