Travel the World in 6 Books

Woman staring at plane at airport with back facing camera - Travel the World in 6 Books

Are you craving some international travel? If so, you’re in luck because the Toronto International Festival of Authors has just planned your next round-the-world trip. It traverses three continents, stops in six countries, and won’t cost you a cent in airfare or accommodation. You won’t even need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

As we prepare for takeoff please sit back, relax and enjoy your trip.  

Touch down in London [England] with Louise Hare’s This Lovely City

Louise Hare is a London-based writer and editor with an M.A. in Creative Writing. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, conjures up the experiences of the Windrush generation in 1950s London.  

With the war over and the city still rebuilding, Jamaican immigrant and jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labour. Lawrie plays clarinet in Soho’s jazz clubs by night and paces the streets as a postman by day, pouring his heart into his new home, which is alive with possibility. Until one morning, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery. Before long, London’s newest arrival becomes the prime suspect in a tragedy that threatens to tear the city apart. 

Next stop: Italy via Donatella DiPietrantonio’s A Girl Returned 

Born in Teramo Province, Abruzzo, Donatella Di Pietrantonio completed her studies in the provincial capital, Aquila, and now lives in Penne. Her award-winning novel A Girl Returned, is set against the ruggedly beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy and tells the story of an unnamed 13-year-old girl who is sent away from the family she has always thought of as her own, to live with her birth family. This is a compelling novel about mothers and daughters, about responsibility, siblings and caregiving. 

Uncover Iran through Shokoofeh Azar’s The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

Shokoofeh Azar moved to Australia as a political refugee in 2011. She is the author of essays, articles and children’s books, and is the first Iranian woman to hitchhike the entire length of the Silk Road.  

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, originally-written in Farsi, is set in Iran in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and is Azar’s first novel to be translated into English. She weaves a timely and timeless story that juxtaposes the beauty of an ancient, vibrant culture with the brutality of an oppressive political regime. 

Explore China in Janie Chang’s Library of Legends 

Janie Chang was born in Taiwan and has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, New Zealand and Canada. She writes historical fiction with a personal connection, drawing from family history and ancestral stories. In her book Library of Legends, Chang takes readers on a 1,000-mile walk to the western provinces of China, a journey marred by the constant threat of aerial attacks during the Japanese invasion of 1937.  

“Janie Chang's The Library of Legends is a delicious mix of history, myth and romance. Chang deftly intertwines Chinese folklore and historical detail to create a magical, heartfelt read.”—Jean Kwok 

Travel to Tokyo through Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami 

Japanese author Mieko Kawakami exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist. Her newly expanded Breasts and Eggs is her first novel to be published in English and paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan.  

“I can never forget the sense of pure astonishment I felt when I first read Mieko Kawakami’s novella Breasts and Eggs... Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving.”—Haruki Murakami 

 Trek through Colombia via Magdalena: River of Dreams by Wade Davis 

Only in Colombia can a traveller wash ashore in a coastal desert, follow waterways through wetlands as broad as the sky, ascend narrow tracks through dense tropical forests, and reach verdant Andean valleys rising to soaring ice-clad summits.  

Few people can interpret Colombia like Wade Davis. He was the Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society for more than a decade and became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia in 2018. In his upcoming Magdalena: River of Dreams Davis brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present and future.