You wouldn’t think that an online travel company could pitch me something I would absolutely want to share with you, however TravelBird pulled it off. They reached out to ambassadors around the world asking which book they believe best represents their country. Clever, right? The answers are part of a larger study. The larger project began by contacting embassies in over 50 countries around the world, asking ambassadors several simple yet revealing questions about their homeland. Their answers offer cultural insights and unique insider tips on how to experience their country how locals do. The questions were as follows:

If a person is visiting your country for 48 hours, where should they go? What should they see? What should they eat?

Is there a common cliche about people in your country which you believe is misrepresentative or untrue?

Which book, fiction or non-fiction, best represents your country?

You can check out the full results here. But I’m here to talk about the books. The results were interesting, but a lot of them are not in English. This just reminds me that I wish I was fluent in other languages. Sigh.

Facundo Vila, Argentina’s ambassador to Finland: Martín Fierro by José Hernández, 1872

Betina Pasquali Fonseca, Argentina’s ambassador to Norway: El Aleph by Luís Borges, 1945

Nélida María Cintreras de Ecke, Argentina’s ambassador to Sweden: El Aleph by Luís Borges, 1945

Dr. Peter Huber, Austria’s ambassador to Germany: Der Trafikant (English title, ‘The Tobacconist’) by Robert Seethaler, 2012

Elizabeth Ellison-Kramer, Austria’s ambassador to Hungary: Das Buch Österreich: Texte, die man kennen muss (translates in English to ‘The Book of Austria. The text you have to know’) by Hans Rauscher, 2005 and The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig, 1942

Dr. Phil. Heidemaria Gürer, Austria’s ambassador to Netherlands: Die gute Küche: Das österreichische Standardkochbuch (translates in English to ‘The good kitchen’: The Austrian Standard Cookbook) by Ewald Plachutta & Christoph Wagner, 1993

Thomas Stelzer, Austria’s ambassador to Portugal: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (English title, ‘The Man without Qualities’) by Robert Musil, 1930-1943

Matthias Radosztics, Austria’s ambassador to South Africa: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (English title, ‘The Man without Qualities’) by Robert Musil, 1930-1943, Das Augenspiel (English title, ‘The Play of the Eyes’) by Elias Canetti, 1985, Die Dämonen (translates in English as ‘The Demons’) by Heimito von Doderer, 1956, Die Tante Jolesch: oder Der Untergang des Abendlandes in Anekdoten (English title, ‘Tante Jolesch: Or, The Decline of the West in Anecdotes’) by Friedrich Torberg, 1975

Susan Bincoletto, Canada’s ambassador to Switzerland: The Promise of Canade by Charlotte Gray, 2016

Juan José Quintana, Colombia’s ambassador to Netherlands: Cien Años de Soledad (English title, ‘One hundred Years of Solitude’) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, 1967

Jorge Leyva, Colombia’s ambassador to Norway: El amor en tiempos de guerra (English title, ‘Love in Times of War’) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985

Román Macaya, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States: Cuentos de mi tía Panchita (translates in English to ‘Stories of my Aunt Panchita’) by Carmen Lyra, 1920

Tomislav Bošnjak, Croatia’s ambassador to Egypt: Gricka vjestica (English title, ‘The Witch of Grič’) by Marija Zagorka, 1913

Jetter Nordam, Denmark’s ambassador to Finland: Den afrikanske farm (English title, ‘Out of Africa’) by Karen Blixen, 1937 or Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, 1835

Aníbal de Castro, Dominican Republic ambassador to Belgium: Cuentos escritos en el Exilio (translates in English as ‘Tales written in exile’) by Juan Bosch, 1964 or Más cuentos escritos en el Exilio (translates in English as ‘More tales in exile’) by Juan Bosch, 1964

Julio Simon Castaños Z., Dominica Republic ambassador to Switzerland: La Mañosa (no English translation) by Juan Bosch, 1935

Fernando Bucheli, Ecuador’s ambassador to Netherlands: Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga (translates in English to ‘Memoir of Andrés Chiliquinga’) by Carlos Arcos Cabrera, 2013

Hannu Kyröläinen, Finland’s ambassador to Austria: Putkinotko (no English translation) by Joel Lehtonen, 1919

Timo Ranta, Finland’s ambassador to Belgium: Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot, 1849

Vesa Vasara, Finland’s ambassador to Denmark: Tuntematon sotilas (English title, ‘The Unknown Soldier’) by Väinö Linna, 1954

Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Finland’s ambassador to Germany: A History of Finland by Henrik Meinander, 2011

Erik Lundberg, Finland’s ambassador to Norway: Trollvinter (English title, ‘Moominland Midwinter’) by Tove Jansson, 1957

Nicolas Protonotarios, Greece’s ambassador to Slovenia: Odyssey by Homer, approx. 8th century BC

Luis F. Carranza, Guatemala’s ambassador to Switzerland: Hombres de Maíz (English title, ‘Men of Maize’) by Miguel Ángel Asturias, 1949

Nagy Zoltán, Hungary’s ambassador to Belgium: A Pál utcai fiúk (English title, ‘The Paul Street Boys’) by Ferenc Molnar, 1906

Dr László Zsolt Szabó, Hungary’s ambassador to New Zealand: A gyertyák csonkig égnek (English title, ‘Embers’) by Sándor Márai, 1942

Tom Hanney, Ireland’s ambassador to Austria: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, 2016

Jacob Keidar, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland: The Bible, The Old Testament

Giorgio Novello, Italy’s ambassador to Norway: Il nome della Rosa (English title, ‘The name of the Rose’), Umberto Eco, 1980

Keith Azzopardi, Malta’s ambassador to Italy: The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973

Dr. Albert Friggieri, Malta’s ambassador to Germany: The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973

Joseph Cole, Malta’s ambassador to Netherlands: The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat, 1973

Y. Ramjanally, Mauritius ambassador to Belgium: Paul et Virginie by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, 1788

Eloy Cantú Segovia, Mexico’s ambassador to Belgium: Pedro Páramo (no English translation) by Juan Rulfo, 1955

Carlos Pujante, Mexico’s ambassador to Denmark: Pedro Páramo (no English translation) by Juan Rulfo, 1955

Jorge-Castro Valle, Mexico’s ambassador to Norway: El Laberinto de la soledad (English title, ‘The Labyrinth of Solitude’) by Octavio Paz, 1950 or La Región más Transparente (English title, ‘Where the Air is Clear’) by Carlos Fuentes, 1958

Agustín Gasca Pliego, Mexico’s ambassador to Sweden: Como Agua para Chocolate (English title, ‘Like Water for Chocolate’) by Laura Esquivel, 1989

Lamia Radi, Morocco’s ambassador to Norway: Le Petit Prince (English title, ‘The Little Prince’) by Antoina de Saint Exupery, 1943

Matthijs van Bonzel, Netherlands’ ambassador to Spain: Nijntje (English title, ‘Miffy’) by Dick Bruna, 1955

Nicole Roberton, New Zealand’s ambassador to Austria: Māori Myths and Legends by Alexander Wyclif Reed, 1964

Jørn Eugene Gjelstad, Norway’s ambassador to Greece: Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mytting, 2015

Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portugal’s ambassador to the United Kingdom: Mensagem (translates in English to ‘Message’) by Fernando Pessoa, 1934

Manuel de la Cámara Hermoso, Spain’s ambassador to Finland: Don Quijote de la Mancha (English title, ‘Don Quixote’) by Miguel de Cervantes, 1615

Fredrik Jörgensen, Sweden’s ambassador to Denmark: Ett drömspel (English title, ‘A Dream Play’) by August Strindberg, 1902, Nils Holgerssons (English title, ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils’) by Selma Lagerlöf, 1907, Pippi Långstrump (English title, ‘Pippi Longstocking’) by Astrid Lindgren, 1945, Rid i Natt (English title, ‘Ride this Night’) by Vilhelm Moberg, 1941 or I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2011

Walter Haffner, Switzerland’s ambassador to Austria: Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost (translates in English to ‘The calf in front of the Gotthardpost’) by Peter von Matt, 2012

Andrej Motyl, Switzerland’s ambassador to Poland: Die Physiker (English title, ‘The Physicists’) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, 1961 or Homo Faber (no English translation) by Max Frisch, 1957

Cèsar Mèndez Gonzàlez, Venezuela’s ambassador to Switzerland: Doña Barbara (translates in English to ‘Ms Barbara’) by Ròmulo Gallegos, 1929

Ngo Thi Hoa, Vietnam’s ambassador to Netherlands: Truyện Kiều (English title ‘The Tale of Kieu’) by Nguyen Du, 1820






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