Expatina's Secret Pleasures

These wonderful books aren't well known, or in many cases, as well-known as the author's other books, but they're some of my favorites. Each one is deliciously quirky. 



by Philip Hensher

Now that he's been short-listed for the Booker Prize for The Northern Clemency, fans might discover Hensher's other literate and humorous novels. Pleasured is set not long before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The plot is a funny one: can the East German government be brought down by handing out free Ecstasy? But the themes — loss and connection — are serious.


Voyage to the End of the Room

by Tibor Fischer

Best known for Under the Frog, his hilarious yet stirring novel of the Hungarian Revolution experienced by a men's basketball team, Tibor Fischer here writes what few would dare, a comic novel about agoraphobia. And how great a title is that?


The Rings of Saturn

by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse

Austerlitz is considered Sebald's masterpiece and deservedly so, but this novel by the late, great German novelist/British professor is charming and poignant, with precise, incandescent prose. What begins as the story of a walking tour of Suffolk ends as a meditation on mortality.



by Andrew Miller

All I need to decide not to read a book as a rule is a cover note that it involves someone who's dying — but this funny, moving, shocking novel is the exception to the rule and I've read it several times.


The Fall

by Simon Mawer

I couldn't believe I bought a book about rock climbers, something about which I knew little and cared less. But I did, because I like Mawer. And I found a jewel: is an un-put-down-able mystery, a celebral yet emotional tale of love and betrayal.


These Foolish Things

by Deborah Moggach

How to get pesky elderly British relatives out of the way? Set up a retirement home that reeks of the Raj and is in farway Bangalore. A delightful book about never giving up.


My Golden Trades

by Ivan Klima

A novel in the form of short stories about how one man (Klima's alter ego) gets by in Communist Prague when he is no longer allowed to teach at the university. It's all the more devastating for Klima's gentle tone.


Music, in a Foreign Language

by Andrew Crumey

A marvellous journey through circular tales as a young man tries to find out the truth about his father. Crumey is that strange bird, an extremely intellectual writer who's also inventive and witty. The first novel of his I read was the engagingly titled Mobius Dick.