3 novels from around the world.

When I moved to Haarlem in 2013, one of my biggest goals was to make local friends. I wanted my life to be Dutch and for a period I avoided things I considered not to be Dutch enough like meeting with expats or watching tv in English or Spanish. Because of this, I spent my first months in Holland being lonely while watching Boer zoekt vrouw.

Today, I have some good Dutch friends, but I mostly socialize with other expats. As a matter of fact, there are more Australians than Haarlemmers in my social circle. And I could not be happier.

Meeting people from different nationalities have been one of the most enriching experiences in my life. Among other things, it has given me the possibility to discuss novels with people from other countries and opened my literary horizons to non-Anglo-Saxon literature.

Below are 3 of my favourites translated-to-English-novels, recommended by expats I have met in Haarlem, that have helped me to get to know other cultures and broken-down the prejudices I had.

Like water for chocolate. By Laura Esquivel.

This Mexican novel, written in twelve instalments, tells the story of Tita and her family in the early years of the 20th Century in Mexico.

The book is not only a magical story about passionate love and families but is also a unique culinary novel and the perfect book to get familiar with Magic Realism.

The reader. By Bernhard Schlink

In this dazzling novel about love, horror and forgiveness. Bernhard Schlink tells the story of Michael Berg, a 15-year-old German student and Hannah, a woman in her thirties. They fall in love until one day she disappears without a trace. Seven years later, Michael sees Hanna as part of his law studies in a courtroom. She is accused of voluntarily going to the SS and working there as a guard in the concentration camps.

Beneath the Mountain. By Luca D’Andrea.

This is the story of Jeremiah Salinger, a young New York television author who moves to Siebenhoch, a small town in the South Tyrol where his wife, Annelies, grew up. While filming a documentary, Salinger is involved in an accident where one of the crew members dies. While Jeremiah tries to forget his experience and recover, he finds out about an old crime which has haunted the town of Siebenhoch for decades.

This Italian mystery novel is much more than a mystery novel, Luca D’Andrea uses the ‘whodunnit’ structure to explore the relationships of the town inhabitants and how challenging adapting to a new culture can be.

Read novels to better understand the Dutch.

What about you? Have you read any interesting novels recommended by expats friends?  Do you have any book recommendation from your homeland?

Let us know in the comments!