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This is our editors’ pick of best books that spin the concept of class and cultural identification around to show you the world from a more grounded and hyper realistic point of view

Words: Emily Georgieva

Photography: Sincerely Media

22 March 2020

There are hundreds of books out there, but the good ones are those that you know you’ll come back to and reread after some time has passed so you can see the story from a different point of view. We learn something new from each of those books we read, and our team wanted to suggest some of our top-pick intriguing reads to help you get through these times of self-isolation.

We take a look at the novels that follow the topics of class and culture and let them shape the stories of the protagonists. Pick your journey – from the land of opportunity that is USA to the ice-cold debris of Russia; from the little-known territories of Vietnam, to the borders of Mexico and America those are the books that redefine the meaning of cultural identification and we couldn’t put them down.  


Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A masterpiece…. This is how this book has been described since it was published for the first time in 1952 and this is the word that seems to define it best all those years later. Although it was published nearly seventy years ago, the book still resonates today with the same power. The writing reshapes the way a novel is perceived and structured. Ellison gives a peak into the American reality for black men and the journey he takes us one is one that changed literature forever. As the protagonists faces challenges that are almost impossible to imagine, the reader gets to connect to a world that is a parallel to what America still seams to be.



On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Meet Little Dog. He is the speaker in this story. When he’s in his late twenties, he takes a look at his life from a distanced point of view. The story seems to go on beyond personal level, as it seems more elegant, more complex and real. Little Dog writes to his mother, who cannot read and reflects on a story about his family that began in Vietnam before he was born. The book is a niche exploration of masculinity, class and race and goes to show an incredible strength – one that the speaker must have to tell his story in all honesty in every traumatic, inspiring and memorable detail that he had lived through. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a book you must re-read in your lifetime.



Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillphs

Set in Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia we follow the story of two sisters that go missing. The book is an astonishing emotional rollercoaster. The characters are drawn together by one event that will change their life for good. From the majestic volcanoes, to the embrace of the tundra and the icy seas that border Japan and Alaska, the path this story follows will introduce a different side of Russia as represented by the characters and their story.



Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Austine

This captivating collection of stories explores the belonging to a homeland, the relationship between mothers and daughters and the power of friendships. There are four stories in total: "Sugar Babies", “Any Further West”, "Tomi" and “Sabrina & Corina”. Each one follows the life of Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West of Denver, Colorado. As they go through life and learn how to deal with a set of challenges such as abandoning, belonging and search of freedom, the characters teach us not just about heir cultural ancestry, but also paint a engaging picture of the place they belong to. 

The book is a finalist for The Short Story Prize, finalist for The Pen/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection and a finalist for The National Book Award finalist.


Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

An entire generation is represented in this brilliant read. Published three decades ago, the book still captures the essence of the American life today. The story is set in the late 1960’s in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the Mojave Desert. Maria Wyeth, a Hollywood actress, struggles to understand the society she’s part of. A place set in crisis with superficial values, a woman who is supposed to represent its ideals and the American Dream lived in a way that leaves the readers feeling haunted, this novel is a must-read.



Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

This Booker Prize-winning novel will leave you thinking about it for a long time after you put it down. The storyline follows the life of 12, mostly women of colour in the UK across few decades. During this time, each of them is on the hunt to find what is most meaningful to them. This touching story reveals around the complexity of womanhood and what it means to be a woman living in the UK at those times.



Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

The novel resonates with recent cultural shifts forced by factors of economy, class and division. The two-time NBCC Finalist sets her book around the storyline around the immigration crisis at the southwestern Mexican-American border. A family drives from Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas. Their destination – Apacheria. They are trying to reach this place, their home, as they are “the last of something”. But the ongoing immigration crisis in the country turns the direction of their journey. This vulnerable story is deafening because it shows the reality we live in – a world where children have been separated from their parents at a border of a country that is not their own. Inspired by true events, the book is not only impactful because of the storyline, but also because the empathy of the writing is unforgettable.




NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.



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