Arts & Culture

Last updated: 14 december, 2010 - 10:49 GMT

Read my country

If you had to recommend three books or poems that would deepen a visitor's understanding of your country and culture, what would they be?

We asked this question on The Strand and compiled a list of listeners' responses. click Click here to listen to them.

The programme has spoken to some of the world's finest writers to uncover their personal literary guides to the countries they call home.

Elif Shafak: Turkey

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Best-selling novelist Elif Shafak is the author of The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love.

  • The Clown and His Daughter by Halide Edip Adivar

Halide Edip Adivar was both a novelist and an activist and was especially interested in women's rights. This novel was first published in English in 1935 and is set in the world of the theatre.

  • Subjects of the Sultan by Suraiya Farogh

A look at the daily lives of ordinary people living under Ottoman rule.

  • Fragments of Culture, edited by Deniz Kandiyoti

Focusing on all aspects of modern Turkey, from the lives of trans-sexuals in Istanbul to politcal cartoons and Turkish humour.

Anne Holt: Norway

Anne Holt

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Anne Holt is a Norwegian crime writer and a former lawyer, Minister of Justice, journalist and television news presenter. She currently lives in Oslo.

  • Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen's epic drama about the life of fantasist Peer Gynt which Anne Holt sees as an accurate depiction of the Norwegian character.

  • The Skyscraper Quartet by Tove Nilsen

Norwegian life in the 1960s seen through the eyes of a teenage girl.

  • Verdensmestrene (The World Champions) by Henrik Langeland

The story of four families in Oslo in the 1980s which opens at the 1982 ski-ing world championships when, famously, Norwegian ski-er Oddvar Bra 's pole broke in the closing stages of the relay race - a moment which has become part of Norway's national memory.

For more information, visit Anne Holt's click publisher's website.

Anjali Joseph: India

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Anjali Joseph is an Indian author and journalist. Saraswati Park is her first novel.

Her three choices are:

  • Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay
  • The Bachelor of Arts by R K Narayan
  • English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee

click Follow Anjali on Twitter

Thomas Keneally: Australia

thomas keneally

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The Booker prize-winning author of Schindler's Ark, Thomas Keneally, chooses books about the character and culture of Australia.

His three choices are:

  • A History of Australia by Manning Clark
  • Voss by Patrick White
  • Poetry by Kenneth Slessor and Judith Wright

Colm Toibin: Ireland

Colm Toibin

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Colm Toibin is a multi-award-winning Irish novelist, short story writer and critic. His new collection of short stories, The Empty Family, is published by Penguin.

His three choices are:

  • Making Love outside Áras an Uachtaráin by Paul Durkin
  • Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth
  • The Aran Islands by J M Synge

click Visit Colm Toibin's website

Kei Miller: Jamaica

Kei Miller is a Jamaican poet and novelist and also teaches creative writing at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Interview with Kei Miller coming soon.

click Visit Kei Miller's facebook page

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ListenDuration: 07:38

'They capture the transition from traditional to modern'

ListenDuration: 07:36

'Something in the heat over there boils people's minds'

ListenDuration: 07:29

'Longing and yearning are very Iraqi traits'

ListenDuration: 07:21

'Kenya has its own sense of humour'

ListenDuration: 09:44

'Poetry was the central form of Chinese literature'

ListenDuration: 07:31

'There are three books that chart Philippine history'

ListenDuration: 08:21

'I picked three books about the different worlds in Peru'

ListenDuration: 07:24

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