The future of international travel remains uncertain. And while we’re all missing the immersive experience of traveling to foreign countries, discovering commonalities with strangers, and embracing new perspectives, we can look to our most treasured souvenirs—the stories we learned and the stories we told—to tide us over.
So while you’re staying home (or closer to home, at least) immerse yourself in these 14 tales of human experience, each featuring diverse voices and stories from around the world.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Set in modern-day Kolkata, India, A Burning—Megha Majumdar’s debut novel—follows three characters as their lives converge in the wake of a catastrophe.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
12 Black British women. Their tales of tragedy and triumph; sisterhood; love and loss. Winner of the Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other captures the complexities of what it means to be a Black woman in modern-day Britain, while masterfully peeling back the curtain on Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Echoing the tensions of the early 1990s in LA, Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay portrays two families that, decades later, are forced to face their dark history amidst unrest returning to their city.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
FBI agent Marie Mitchell is a young Black woman in an old boys’ club. Bored with pushing papers, she joins a task force aimed at undermining the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso—a decision that will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.
American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel, was inspired by true events.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
The daughter of Cypriot refugees, Christy Lefteri weaves this fictitious account of a family’s journey across Syria, Turkey, Greece, and, ultimately, the UK. At once heart-wrenching and inspiring, The Beekeeper of Aleppo illuminates the power of the human spirit in the face of tragedy and loss.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half presents a multi-generational family saga, featuring two identical sisters born in the Jim Crow-era South. Bennett explores race and identity in America as she details the sisters’ divergent fates when one sister decides to pass for white.
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
This graphic memoir illustrates the complexities of answering a young son’s questions about race, religion, color, and more. Mira Jacob’s Good Talk does just that—with levity and, of course, love.
There There by Tommy Orange
12 members of the Native community converge at the Big Oakland Powwow, just not in the way many of them anticipated. Tommy Orange’s There There illuminates the urban Native American experience in a tale you won’t soon forget.
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
Spanning Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and New York, You Exist Too Much follows a young Palestinian-American woman’s journey in search of acceptance, love, and a place to belong.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Set in the Mexican countryside, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic weaves Mexican folklore with the tale of an unlikely heroine tasked with rescuing her cousin from her new husband’s dark past—and the horrors inflicted by a haunted house.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong’s debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous captures the complex intersections of the modern-day American Dream. Raised by a single mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam, the narrator writes her a letter (in a language she’ll never understand) about the realities of his young American life: addiction, abuse, and the loss of his first love.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer follows two women pushing the boundaries of sisterhood—and blurring the lines of morality.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys is based on the true story of a Tallahassee, FL reform school that operated for 111 years and forever damaged the lives of thousands of children.
Elwood Curtis, a Black boy growing up in the 1960s, is unfairly sentenced to The Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school. The story follows Elwood, and his friend Turner, as they navigate the nightmarish school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Set in affluent Shaker Heights, Ohio, Little Fires Everywhere explores the tremendous power of motherhood, the suffocating expectations of perfection, and the unpredictability of disrupting the status quo.