Anthony Marra Recommends Far-Flung Fiction

Explore these books and travel the world without leaving your reading chair.

Anthony Marra

From Brazil to Japan to Czechoslovakia, the settings of these novels will capture your imagination and expand your sense of the world.

Bestselling novelist Anthony Marra – author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena – shares some of this favorite far-flung novels.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Brazil). A perfectly constructed and beautifully told story of ambition and loss in the Amazon.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India). Roy invents a peculiar and dazzling poetry to tell a story of twins in southern India.

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The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (North Korea). In a feat of imagination, research, and empathy, Adam Johnson takes the reader into the dark heart of the North Korean ruling class.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). Bulawayo tells the story of a Zimbabwean childhood in language that sizzles with energy.

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain (Haiti, Colombia, Myanmar, Sierra Leone). A collection of short stories, each of which packs the punch of a four-hundred- page novel. By turns comic and tragic, these stories are every bit as wonderful as Fountain’s brilliant novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li (China). Li’s novel presents a bleak portrait of life in provincial China through a wide range of characters.

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (Dominican Republic). A harrowing and meticulously orchestrated look at the assassination of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and its aftermath.

The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan). In spare, evocative language, Kawabata captures the rhythms of family life in postwar Tokyo.

To the End of the Land by David Grossman (Israel). A mother begins walking when her son goes to war, resulting in a novel that is glacier-like in size, pace, and ultimate power.

I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal (Czechoslovakia). Hrabal, an unjustly under-read novelist, takes the reader on a trip through twentieth-century Czech history with the often hilarious story of a hotel waiter.

Featured Image: AnastasiaNess/

ANTHONY MARRA is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and appeared on over twenty year-end lists. Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and France’s Prix Medicis. He received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where he teaches as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, California. His story collection, The Tsar of Love and Techno, is forthcoming from Hogarth (Fall 2015). Visit

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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