Valentino Achak Deng

3 Novels that Show the World

In my life, I’ve had a desire to learn what life is like outside of the Americas. I haven’t been able to leave the continent, but I’ve searched for the next best thing; and that is reading about experiences people have in different parts of the world. If you’ve ever wanted to read books that have alternative views on life and leave the reader in amazement then I recommend these three influential books as a good place to start.


1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram explores and exposes life in an Australian maximum security prison, the slums of Bombay, the rural towns in India, 5 star hotels, and the seedy underbelly of the city.  Filled with themes of friendship, escape, love, and agony, Shataram’s 933 pages fly by and leave the reader inspired and dignified. Shantaram is a fiction novel that is currently being worked into a movie.


2. What is the What by Dave Eggers

This novel of fiction follows Valentino Achak Deng’s escape from Sudan on foot, followed by militias and government bombers. The search for freedom is accomplished for Deng and his group, the Lost Boys, and they eventually make it to the United States. The story highlights the challenge, heartache, and promise of living in the United States and Sudan. The mixture of humor and trial throughout the novel lead to a feeling of enlightenment for the reader.


In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

In the Country of Men follows the life of nine year old Suleiman in Libya during the Qaddafi reign. Suleiman gets caught in the whirlwind of parental issues where his fathers anti-Qaddafi actions lead to terror, while his mothers drug abuse leaves him turning to others. The books depiction of a child caught in a nightmare highlights the anguish of trying to live through political oppression.

If you have any books to add to the list feel free to share in the comments below.