Michelle Jana Chan's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Michelle Jana Chan recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Michelle Jana Chan's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Moor's Last Sigh

Time Magazine's Best Book of the Year

Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie combines a ferociously witty family saga with a surreally imagined and sometimes blasphemous chronicle of modern India and flavors the mixture with peppery soliloquies on art, ethnicity, religious fanaticism, and the terrifying power of love. Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords, is also a compulsive storyteller and an exile. As he travels a route that takes him from India to Spain, he leaves behind a tale of mad passions and...
Recommended by Michelle Jana Chan, and 1 others.

Michelle Jana ChanThis book is one of my favourites of his, a real family saga with strong connective tissue between generations, an ambitious and brave story; it’s exuberant with colour and passion, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. (Source)

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Half of a Yellow Sun

A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as “the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe,” Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for...
Recommended by Michelle Jana Chan, Michael Peel, and 2 others.

Michelle Jana ChanHer story is told by three powerful, self-aware and intellectually upright characters who are swept up in the struggle to establish an independent Nigeria. It’s a call to arms. (Source)

Michael PeelChimamanda Adichie broke the ice in writing about the Biafran war. (Source)

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Running in the Family

Twenty-five years after leaving his native Sri Lanka for the winters of Canada, a dream of tropical heat and barking dogs lures Michael Ondaatje to return home and revisit a childhood and a family he never fully understood. Ondaatje gathers anecdotes, poems and memories to piece together this portrait of the colourful stories and secrets of his ancestors. less
Recommended by Michelle Jana Chan, and 1 others.

Michelle Jana ChanIt would be impossible for me to draw the lines of where Ondaatje transitions from fact to fiction. Maybe even for him it would be impossible. He himself says: ‘Truth disappears with history and gossip tells us in the end nothing of personal relationships.' (Source)

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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. less
Recommended by Brigid Keenan, Michelle Jana Chan, and 2 others.

Brigid KeenanThis is about everything that can go wrong when you are in another country and faced with another culture. It’s about a family – primarily it centres on a father and his four daughters – who move to the Congo from America as missionaries. The book is tragic because the father has the best intentions of making a good life for his family, but he’s too closed-minded and set in his American ways. I... (Source)

Michelle Jana ChanIt’s quite an old-fashioned story of sin and redemption, yet a hugely ambitious tale for Kingsolver to take on. It’s about filial responsibility as a wife and as daughters and sisters; it’s about guilt, bitterness and revenge. (Source)

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Heart of Darkness

& Other Stories

Designed to appeal to the book lover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautifully bound pocket-sized gift editions of much loved classic titles. Bound in real cloth, printed on high quality paper, and featuring ribbon markers and gilt edges, Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.

One night on the Thames, Charles Marlowe tells his fellow sailors the vivid and brutal tale of his time as a riverboat captain in the Belgian Congo. From the mists of London we are whisked to the darkness of Africa's colonial heart - and into the thrall of the...

Barack ObamaIn November 2014, Obama took a trip to D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose to honor small businesses and add to his personal library. Accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha, POTUS picked up novels from the Redwall fantasy series by Brian Jacques, as well as some from the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. He also added these titles to his heavy bags: Brown Girl Dreaming,... (Source)

Michelle Jana ChanEnglish was not Conrad’s first language but he wrote better in English than almost any of us can. I sense that the way he’s written this is very much in sympathy of an artificial colonial administrative structure that is foisted on another culture and then what horrors unfold as a consequence. (Source)

Martin BellIt’s a marvellous novella. I’ve worked in the Congo and I’m now an ambassador for UNICEF and went on a trip there four or five years ago which was pure Conrad. The main highway in the Congo is the river. This is a book about the river, about the ivory trade, about the rapacity of the white man, it’s about the things that happen to the white man. Its enduring strength is that it’s very ambivalent... (Source)

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