What can I read while waiting for the next Ibis Trilogy book?
May 18, 2014 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I want to read novels about migration, trade, and globalization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries -- I especially loved Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (and its sequel River of Smoke) and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell and would love to find more novels along these lines.

Novels FROM this period are also good, if they focus on those elements -- so Moby Dick is good, but Jane Austen less so (for the purposes of this question! Love u Jane!). I'm especially interested in explorations of colonialism and the meeting of cultures, so pure nautical novels (a la Patrick O'Brian) don't quite scratch the itch. Finally, I'd like the historical facts to be well-researched and the writing itself to be engaging. A focus on the Caribbean would be a bonus!
posted by EmilyFlew to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" leaps out here. Not one of my favorites, but it's based on Conrad's experiences for a French firm in Africa. "Lord Jim" might also work; it's about a sailor who, on the run from a youthful act of cowardice, has headed east to find people who don't know him. I find his writing rich and engaging, but it's also thick and chewy. Easier to read, I've found, when it's not assigned reading.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:52 PM on May 18, 2014

Eleanor Catton's "The Luminaries."
posted by nkknkk at 1:05 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doesn't have quite the poetry perhaps of someone like David Mitchell, but the sort of canonical novels about Scandinavian migration is Moberg's The Emigrants. (I really enjoyed them)
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:12 PM on May 18, 2014

The English Passengers by Matthew Kneale, and Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan.
posted by greycap at 1:27 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perry of London A Family and a Firm on the Seaborne Frontier.
Of course anything transatlantic in this period is related to the slave trade so try Hugh Thomas.
Going in the other direction you have the East India Company. and the Dutch East India Company.
posted by adamvasco at 2:14 PM on May 18, 2014

The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson is what you're looking for, but it is vast-- three huge, complex doorstop-sized novels (Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System Of the World). Still, it is incredibly well-researched and delves deeply into trade, economy and globalisation. I love Stephenson's writing, though some find it overly dense.

Also, The Coffee Trader by David Liss may interest you.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:51 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might also like Cutting for Stone.
posted by SallyHitMeOntheHead at 6:43 PM on May 18, 2014

Thanks all! I marked as best answer the ones I ordered on Amazon right away, but all the answers are great and I look forward to a summer of reading!
posted by EmilyFlew at 6:22 AM on May 19, 2014

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