Choose Your Own Adventure
By Christine Thomas
Lei Chic, August 6, 2008

Who needs planes, trains and automobiles? You can still get away this summer by traveling through these new novels’ imagined worlds. Ticket prices are low, security’s a breeze, and you still get to select your dream destination:

Where: China

Turn to
: The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Why: Because every seductive detail of famous 20th century painter Pan Yuliang’s life story—from being sold into a brothel at 14 to fleeing for Paris because of her controversial painted nudes—makes your life melt away.


Where
: Japan

Turn to: Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Why
: Her unflinching depiction of five Tokyo teens unravels the truth about Japan’s youth—why they aren’t merely obsessed with cartoon characters and murder can seem like joyful escape.

Where: Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Sicily

Turn to
: The Size of the World by Joan Silber

Why
: Just because you’re not leaving familiar digs to shack up in a foreign country doesn’t mean reading about characters who do—uncovering an extraordinary impression of the world, religion, love and corporate culture—won’t be just as transformative.

Where: North Africa, Europe and America

Turn to
: Theft by N.S. Koenings

Why
: These five entrancing stories leap across continents, collide with global cultures, and illuminate desires we all share, whether a Belgian socialite awakened by her American goddaughter, British medium haunted by an African ghost, or you—local girl with nose in a book.


Where
: Philippines

Turn to
: Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis

Why
: Spirited twelve-year-old Nenita will make you eat the heart of the matter, too, as she searches for love, life and opportunity in food, friends, her Nana’s stories, and more food.

Where: 1930s Honolulu

Turn to: Murder Casts a Shadow: A Hawaiæi Mystery by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl

Why
: As fireworks crash into the sky during champagne-filled New Year’s celebrations, Bishop Museum’s portrait of King Kalakaua is stolen, its curator murdered, and a reporter and playwright sent to investigate—and you’ll beg to be along for the ride from the first intriguing and unconventional lines.

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