Index of articles by category

Beyond the Book Articles
Places, Cultures & Identities

Page 1 of 9

Order books by:
Note: The key icon indicates member-only content.Learn more about membership.
Ting Hua: Obedience and Filial Piety in Chinese American Parental Relationships (08/21)
Of all the demands made of Susie Yang's character Ivy in her debut novel White Ivy, few are more pernicious than the constant demand that she be ting hua, or a 'good' girl. For Ivy, to be ting hua means, more than anything else, obscuring her individuality and right to self-determination so that her family can see the version of her they ...
A History of the Appalachian Region (08/21)
The Appalachian region of the United States (not to be confused with the entirety of the Appalachian Mountains, which extend into Canada) stretches over 1,000 miles from southern New York to northeastern Mississippi. A mountainous crossroads, the area is defined by disparities and variety in its history, economics and culture. Today, ...
Artifacts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (08/21)
The three-tiered National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. embraces the rich history of slaves and their descendants. The museum opened in 2016, displaying thousands of artifacts illustrating the experience of the unfree, and the emancipated, including Ashley's Sack (which will be on display ...
The Bolla in Albanian Folklore (08/21)
Pajtim Statovci's novel Bolla takes its name from a creature in Albanian folklore. The narrative is interspersed with a reimagined version of this feared monster's origins, with thematic parallels to his characters' lives that enhance the emotional impact of their story while commenting on the importance of storytelling as a means of ...
West Windsor and Plainsboro, New Jersey (08/21)
As Fabian Nicieza comments in an author's note for Suburban Dicks, 'fiction means it is not real.' But that said, the two towns he uses as the setting for the novel—West Windsor and Plainsboro—are definitely real places. Let's take a trip to explore these suburban paradises, shall we?

The area where West Windsor and ...
The Musée Rodin (07/21)
Several important scenes in Louise Penny's mystery, All the Devils Are Here, take place in the gardens of the Musée Rodin. Located in Paris, just south of the River Seine and about a mile east of the Eiffel Tower, the museum and its grounds boast thousands of Auguste Rodin's sculptures, casts and drawings, as well as thousands of...
Purim (06/21)
In The Book of V., Lily is a wife and mother living in modern-day Brooklyn and struggling to find her purpose in life. As she works to manage her relational roles, she is also working to understand her Jewish heritage and particularly the story of Esther, a young Jewish woman in ancient Persia who became queen and used her influence ...
Vietnamese Amerasians (06/21)
When U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the 1.3 million lives lost would prove to be only the beginning of the war's lasting impact on both countries, especially for many of the children born in Vietnam amid the bloodshed.

Initially coined by Pearl S. Buck and later legitimized by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service...
Somali Resettlement in the United States (11/20)
Amid ongoing civil war, more than a million Somalis have fled their homeland in recent decades and now live somewhere else. According to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Kenya is host to the largest number of Somali refugees, with 256,186, followed by Yemen with 250,500 and Ethiopia with 192,082. Many Somali ...
The Significance of Black Hair in the United States (06/21)
In her debut thriller, The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris includes but does not explain certain concepts linked to Black life. This may be an intentional choice to move past the expectation that racialized and other marginalized authors should clarify concepts and issues that aren't commonplace in mainstream white society for ...
The Origins of Islam in Pakistan (06/21)
In Homeland Elegies, author Ayad Akhtar explores Pakistani characters' relationships to Islam. The roots of Islam in the area now known as Pakistan can be traced back almost as far as the birth of the religion itself. As early as the 7th century, Arab armies attempted to spread Islam to the Indian subcontinent, but it took centuries ...
Why Hindu Gods Have Multiple Arms (06/21)
While investigating a series of missing children taken from an unnamed Indian slum, Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz, the central protagonists in Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, come across many pictures and iconography depicting Hindu gods. Here are some brief insights into the mythology surrounding a handful of these deities.

...
Black Americans in Paris (06/21)
In The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, Opal Jewel finds solace in Paris when her music partner, Nev Charles, has become increasingly unreliable due to an opioid addiction.

It begins at Versailles with a charity fashion show designed to raise money for the palace's restoration, where celebrity attendees include Stephen Burrows, one of the ...
The Quaker Clearness Committee (05/21)
Throughout What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins, Isaac Balch meditates on how his Quaker religion might help him come to terms with the murder of his son, Daniel. Paramount in Quakerism is the belief that a person's relationship with God is an independent matter. In keeping with this, much of the community's spiritual work is carried out ...
Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon (05/21)
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, tiny Lebanon has the highest per capita population of Syrian refugees in the world, hosting an estimated 1.5 million who have fled from its war-torn neighbor. To put this in perspective, Lebanon is about half the size of Massachusetts with a population of just under eight million as of 2019. It has long ...
Ariadne in Greek Mythology (05/21)
In her novel Ariadne, Jennifer Saint retells events from the life of the mythological title figure. In Greek mythology, Ariadne is known for helping the hero Theseus slay the Minotaur — a beast who was the offspring of Ariadne's mother and a bull — and find his way out of the Labyrinth, the maze beneath her father's palace. In...
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran (05/21)
Dalia Sofer's novel Man of My Time spans from the mid-20th century to the present day. Set in both Tehran and New York City, it encompasses the decades leading up to the 1979 Iranian Revolution—when Iranians from both Islamist and leftist organizations overthrew the Western-backed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi—as well as the...
Rhinebeck, New York (05/21)
Clapham, the idyllic Hudson Valley town in which Emma Straub sets All Adults Here, is fictional, but the author places it in a very real geographical setting. Her characters mention real places, including Rhinebeck, 'one town north' along the Hudson River, which bears some resemblance to Straub's description of Clapham.

Rhinebeck is a ...
"Women Who Survived" from Classical Mythology (05/21)
In Starling Days, Mina mulls over an idea for an academic work that she dubs 'The Women Who Survived.' Her starting point is a list of female characters in classical mythology who survive the stories in which they appear. She observes that most women in Greek and Roman myths are ultimately killed or transformed in some way, and that few ...
Tigers in Chinese History and Culture (05/21)
In C Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills Is Gold, signs of and references to tigers consistently appear around its characters, although they are presumed to be in the American West where (at least in the real world) native tigers don't exist. For example, Lucy, the main character, mentions that her mother draws a tiger in the doorway of ...
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) (05/21)
In his memoir Buses Are a Comin', Charles Person explains that he got involved with the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s through fellow students at his school, Morehouse College, which is one of the country's oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The HBCU designation was created by the ...
Muskiiki: The Four Sacred Ojibwe Medicines (05/21)
In Firekeeper's Daughter, Daunis is interested in how her fellow Ojibwe tribe members use medicinal herbs. She chooses to study pre-med courses and plant biology at college so that she may go on to study ethnobotany through an indigenous lens, and also learns directly from her tribe's Elders.

Traditional medicine is an important part ...
The Segregation of St. Louis (04/21)
In Marilynne Robinson's novel Jack, the title character, a white man, meets and falls in love with a Black woman named Della. However, America's racism, segregation and anti-miscegenation laws in the 1950s present a nearly insurmountable obstacle for the couple. One of their specific concerns is how and where they will live together as ...
Mosul Before, During and After ISIS Occupation (04/21)
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city after Baghdad, lies on the banks of the Tigris River. Mosul's current boundaries encompass the remains of the old Assyrian city of Nineveh, and signs of civilization in the area date back as far as 8,000 years ago. From the 8th century onward, Mosul was considered a key cultural and economic hub, and it ...
Perth (04/21)
Perth features as the primary location in Rebecca Handler's debut novel Edie Richter Is Not Alone, about an American expatriate who relocates to Perth following the death of her father.

Located on the southwest coast, Perth is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of around two million in the greater metropolitan ...
Gentrification and Historic Racism in Portland (04/21)
In Willy Vlautin's novel, The Night Always Comes, a family in Portland, Oregan find themselves struggling to afford the cost of living in their neighborhood because of gentrification.

Gentrification is the process in which wealthy individuals and businesses converge on a previously working-class or low-income neighborhood. (The word ...
Challah (04/21)
In "Birdsong from the Radio," a story in Elizabeth McCracken's collection The Souvenir Museum, the main character fills the void of her missing children by consuming a loaf of challah daily. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread that is usually braided. It can come in many different forms, but it is often made as a soft...
The Lost (and Found) Community of Weeksville (04/21)
Greenidge's character Dr. Cathy Sampson in Libertie is based on the real-life story of Dr. Susan McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to become a medical doctor in New York State. The novel's setting, meanwhile, is based on the historical settlement of Weeksville, which was located in what is now the Crown Heights neighborhood in the ...
The Flying African in the Americas (04/21)
The story of the flying African is as old as the history of Africans in the Americas. Thus, it is no surprise that this trope finds its way into Afia Atakora's debut novel, Conjure Women.

The basic notion behind the folktale lies in a secret power, a secret magic known to a select few. This power allows a person to grow wings, or in ...
Feminist Movements in South Korea (03/21)
South Korean society has long been profoundly patriarchal, with traditional expectations that designate men as breadwinners and women as homemakers remaining intact even as more women have entered the workforce. According to a 2017 report, Korea has the highest gender pay gap among all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and ...
The Muisca (03/21)
In Patricia Engel's novel Infinite Country, several of the main characters draw inspiration from their Muisca ancestors and legends. The Muisca, also known as the Chibcha, are an indigenous civilization that thrived in present-day Colombia before Europeans colonized the area. Bogotá, Colombia's capital city, is situated on an ancient...
The Women of ISIS (03/21)
Known for its brutal track record of executions and torture of hostages and civilians (including women and children), some may find it surprising that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group attracts a fair number of female recruits. While there are mitigating factors that vary for each woman, for many the appeal seems ...
How Drug Cartels Became a Potent Force in Mexico (03/21)
One of the main areas of focus in Blood Gun Money is the role of drug cartels in criminal activity in Mexico. In particular, two organizations are cited multiple times: Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Both are known for the number of enemies they've dispatched and their brutal methods of doing so. As stated in the book, guns, many of ...
Indian Casinos: Who Profits? (02/21)
When most people hear the word 'casino,' they think of slot machines trilling and the tinny crashing of coins. But there is a deeper significance to gambling, especially as it pertains to casinos located on federal Indian reservations. While a fun pastime for many, casinos are the lifeblood for the Native American tribes across the ...
Circassian Ethnic Identity and History (02/21)
In All-American Muslim Girl, Allie Abraham's family is ethnically Circassian, which accounts in part for her fair, reddish blonde hair. As Allie observes, few Americans have ever heard of Circassians, so in the novel she gives a very cursory background that only begins to describe the history and struggles of this group of people. Author ...
The Legacy of Ireland's Curses (02/21)
In Ruth Gilligan's novel The Butchers' Blessing, we meet a small yet devoted group of people who strive to uphold historic, ritualistic methods of cattle slaughter in 1990s Ireland. They do this in accordance with their continued belief in the power of the so-called 'Curse of the Farmer's Widow.' Born of an ancient folktale of unknown ...
A Brief History of Cienfuegos, Cuba (01/21)
The Black Cathedral by Marcial Gala is set in a run-down neighborhood known as Punta Gotica in the real Cuban city of Cienfuegos, where an architecturally unique cathedral is planned for the Church of the Holy Sacrament. This may be all the more significant considering that Cienfuegos is known for its own particular brand of architecture ...
East Asian Populations in Plano, Texas (01/21)
Simon Han's debut novel Nights When Nothing Happened is set in Plano, Texas, located about 20 miles north of Dallas and 50 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The Chengs, who are Chinese American, have chosen to live in Plano because it is a safe community with good schools, but what's not stated overtly is that the city and surrounding area ...
Megiddo (01/21)
In To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss, a character in the story 'End Days' is an archaeologist working at Tel Megiddo, the site of the ancient Palestinian city of Megiddo, which is situated near present-day Haifa, Israel. 'Tel' refers to the 'mound' on the site in which excavations have uncovered 26 layers of remains of ancient ...
Lamorna Cove (01/21)
Found on the Cornish coast, five miles from the port town of Penzance in Southwestern Britain, Lamorna Cove is a picture-perfect beauty spot. Adored by locals and much admired by visitors from far and wide, its charm has made it a sought-after location for TV and movies, perhaps most notably in the 2013 film Summer in February starring ...
India's Street Children (08/20)
Jayant Kaikini's short story collection, No Presents Please, does some of its best work exploring Mumbai's marginalized communities, including the prominently featured community of the city's street children, many of whom roam the streets alone, neglected, undernourished and with few prospects for the future. Stories like 'A Spare Pair of...
A History of Acapulco and Ongoing Cartel Control (12/20)
Acapulco de Juárez, commonly known as Acapulco, is a city located on the coast of Mexico in the southwestern state of Guerrero. The name 'Acapulco' is believed to come from a word in the Náhuatl (Aztec) language meaning 'place of the reeds.' Once considered a desirable vacation spot and bustling resort town, Acapulco has in ...
The Legend of Pardes (11/20)
In David Hopen's novel, The Orchard, the main action is set in motion by a discussion of the Jewish legend of Pardes. In the tale, four celebrated sages enter the orchard, but only one emerges unscathed by his encounter with the divine.

The word 'Pardes' comes from the ancient Persian word pairidaeza, which refers to an enclosed garden...
The Spirituality and Symbolism of Buddhist Art (11/20)
In today's world, art therapy has become an increasingly popular option. According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), this experiential treatment 'is used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and ...
Pre-Columbian Religion in the Americas (11/20)
One of the most spectacular elements of Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun is its deep dive into pre-Columbian culture and beliefs. In a stark departure from the usual medieval European landscape used as a foundation in fantasy novels, Roanhorse instead uses the ancient landscape and religions of the Americas as the blueprint for her work. In ...
Café Loup (10/20)
In Zadie Smith's story 'Downtown,' characters mourn the closing of Café Loup. The West Village restaurant and bar, founded in 1977, had become a beloved institution to its loyal patrons when it was suddenly seized in September 2018 for over $100,000 in unpaid taxes. The tributes poured in immediately, as did the accounts of the spot'...
Stolpersteine (10/20)
In Those Who Forget, author Géraldine Schwarz relates a visit her father paid to his parents' former home in Mannheim, Germany, looking for a specific 'Stolperstein' installed outside the apartment.

The word 'Stolperstein' (plural 'Stolpersteine') means 'stumbling stone' or 'stumbling block' in German. These small ...
Mendocino, California (10/20)
Even amidst ghosts; a loving, family-centered farm; and the courageous Mila trying to face horrible memories from her past, Nina LaCour's description of Mendocino, California in Watch Over Me stands out when Mila gets her chance to go there as part of a farmer's market:

Mendocino greeted us with its tiny business district, its ...

Inis Meáin (Inishmaan) (10/20)
Inis Óg, the island home of the Moone family in The Dazzling Truth, might be a fictional location, but exploring the real small coastal islands of Ireland can offer an idea of what it would be like to live where the characters do. Well-known examples include the Aran Islands, three limestone islands known individually as Inis M&#...
Iceland and the Catholic Church (09/20)
One of the main characters in The Sacrament is truly its setting: Iceland. Serving as the emotional nexus for multiple characters in the novel, it stamps the narrative with an authoritative and unyielding presence.

Iceland is a Nordic country located in the North Atlantic, an island that is the 18th largest in the world and Europe's ...
Order books by:

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: All That She Carried
    All That She Carried
    by Tiya Miles
    For Rose of Charleston, South Carolina, it was an ordinary day until it wasn't. When it turned out ...
  • Book Jacket
    Migrations
    by Charlotte McConaghy
    Migrations, Australian author Charlotte McConaghy's literary fiction debut, earned a notably high ...
  • Book Jacket: The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel
    Kristin Harmel's historical novel The Forest of Vanishing Stars was very well-received by our First ...
  • Book Jacket: African Europeans
    African Europeans
    by Olivette Otele
    The nexus of Africans and Europeans is not a recent historical development. Rather, the peoples of ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Little Hopes
by Leah Weiss
A Southern story of friendship forged by books and bees, in the murky shadows of World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Sunset Route
    by Carrot Quinn

    A beautiful memoir about forgiveness, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of nature.

Win This Book!
Win The Debt Trap

The Debt Trap
by Josh Mitchell

"A meticulous, eye-opening history of the US student debt crisis."
—Publishers Weekly

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A T I A Teapot

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.