The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - Saint Augustine
The books are a passport, and those who read travel the world from the comfort of their couch! - NO Saint Me
I have traveled many new countries, worlds, towns and villages and without complications of Visa and tickets. I have traveled periods and time zones without a time machine. I have met and known dead characters and personalities without the black magic. I have visited prohibited places, high security jails, concentration camps, secret passages and tunnels at no cost or risk to life. This is possible in the world of books! A free passport to go around the world in a few pages!
Here are my travelogues thru my bibliography!!
Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and EM Forster took me to the classic world of the rich British society.
Charles dickens and William Golding showed me a difficult childhood and survival of the fittest.
JR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, JK Rowling (or do I say Robert Galbraith) and Douglas Adams showed me how fantasy is more grand and beautiful than reality.
Jerome Jerome and Rudyard Kipling told me why making people laugh is such an important thing.
Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and HH Munro's (Saki) tongue in cheek short stories and satires please me as ever.
Arthur Conan Doyle immortalised Mr Sherlock Holmes making every detective fiction look like cheap imitation.
George Orwell and Virginia Woolf showed me the ugly underbelly of the society.
Gerald Durrell made me fall in love with family and animals and other crazy things.
The neighbourhood too has it's brand of Irish authors with Frank McCourt and George Bernard Shaw who got more popularity once they left their natives.
So much is written about France that I can not wait to get there. Till then I satisfy myself with literary interpretations. Gaston's 'The Phantom of the Opera' gives a masterpiece to the theatre world.
There are many authors who belong to another but come to Paris and fall in love with it. Taslima Nasreen talks about a story 'French Lover' she found in Paris.
'Before sunrise' and 'Before sunset' (film to book) takes you through love found in conversations and streets of Vienna and Paris - a tribute to these beautiful cities and of course love.
Da Vinci Code has it's roots in the art and architecture of Paris and Rome.
Its regrettable that other than books on role and state of Germany in WWII, I have not read much about this country. 'Anne Frank', 'The Book Theif' by Marcus Zysk and 'Two lives' by Vikram Seth deal with the treatment of Jews in a Nazi Germany and the after effects of holocaust. 'Grimm's fairy tales' derived from German folklore is probably the most read children book and is a major influence over children literature across the world.
Come towards east to Czech world as it emerges from the impact of world war and communism. Milan Kundera's 'Unbearable lightness of being' is probably a classic in a way only romantics can understand. The journey of a nation, of an author and a lover. We are privileged to have an English translation of the works of this magnificent author.
Talking about Prague we can not miss Kafka and his statements on society and life. Simple stories but so hard hitting you only wonder about the multiple interpretations of his stories clouding your head.
Gogol, Chekhov and Dostoyevsky create the romantic mystic images of Russia for me. I have been transported many a times to the winter chill, snow outside the window, empty cobbled streets, the wait and the loneliness clogging the heart, with fear of love and loss growing stronger.
Clearly very less is written about Middle East in the English fiction. The local authors have not been translated or haven't reached the international market. Isn't it important to listen to the other side rather than those of travellers or those who managed to get out. Those living there too have their stories to tell. Their simple lives and problems like any other part of the world. Though not much but you get a sight of fiction by Middle East authors who moved to west and they present their stories the way west likes it.
Marjaane Satrapi the graphic novelist brings an emotional yet quirky tale of a nation in a political turmoil. Her books 'Persepolis', 'Embroideries' and 'Chicken with plums' brings the nostalgia of Persian food, culture and traditions. 'Rooftops of Tehran' by Mahbod Seraji again caters to Western audience.
'Kite runner' by Khaled Houssini is probably the most popular book on the political impact on culture and people of Afghanistan. He continues his story with 'A thousand splendid suns'.
'My name is Red' by Orhan Pamuk is an intriguing crime fiction with heavy dosage of ancient history, art and culture of Turkey. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how to write magnificently and to make the critics eat out of your hands.
Clearly the continent of Africa has been my least visited place. It being huge with multiple countries, languages and cultures has not reached the global platform with the help of universal language akka English translations. My interpretations are borrowed from western authors who had their roots in Africa. Adichie's 'Americannah', 'Purple hibiscus' and 'Half of a Yellow Son' and limited outsiders view of Naipaul's acclaimed yet critical writing calls for some exploration and experimentation from my side.
In Asia we have already covered the vast sub-continental Indian literature, covering whole of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (read here - http://storywala.blogspot.com/2014/09/indian-subcontinent.html). Kunal Basu's short stories - 'The Japanese Wife' took me to Philippines, Indonesia, all over India and some other countries in Africa and Europe. But have to read more about Asia.
I have been to Japan thru detective eyes of 'The devotion of suspect X' and Murakami's 'The wind up bird chronicle'. Glimpse of WWII and Japanese geisha culture can be seen in 'Memories of a geisha' although later reports suggest it could be American author Arthur Golden's outsider view and narration.
Sadly only 'Thorn birds' comes to my mind for Australian authors. Got to read some more!
Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Gabo as he is fondly called is probably one of the most brilliant fiction writer representing most of South American literature. He is closely followed by Paulo Coelho's not so much fiction writing.
If you count Che Guevara's 'The Motorcycle Diaries' then I have traveled with him through his Latin American journey. But I admit this is not even a scratch on the vast continent and it's literature or history.
Finally comes the biggest market of books - USA. Mark Twain and Harper Lee remind me of the transition from carefree childhood to the realistic adulthood.
'Catcher in the rye' and 'Perks of being a wallflower' are the coming of age sagas too but in a more modern world.
'Curious incident of dog in the night time' and 'Memory keeper's daughter' show a different type of growing up.
Ayn Rand tells you how the world and men should be. O Henry's beautiful love story moves me every time I think of.
'Americannah' gives me the Afro American version of America.
'Love stories of Nathenial P' shows the empty literary world of educated middle class of USA.
Irving Wallace and Dan Brown showcase the thriller writers in political or historical landscape. These genres are probably best selling but have never tempted me so forgive me if I don't list the lot of prominent authors here.
Erich Segal and Richard Bach show love transcending time and life.
'Fifty shades of Grey', 'Sex and the City' and many other chiclit books have given me a nice breezy holiday in the modern America obsessed I with good looks, sex, and Austen's version of love - Mr Big, Mr Grey, Mr Darcy, get it.
So traveling is easy - just enter the world of books, feed your imagination and see it fly!