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Books and movies to check out before you relocate overseas, and after you arrive. Expert advice or just plain funny; for expats, ambassadors, parents and travelers. Chosen by GSGI editors.

Diplomatic and Expat Adventures

Antrobus Complete by Lawrence Durrell - Fall-out-of-bed, tears-running-down-your-face, don't-read-on-tube-or-you-will-look-like-a-lunatic funny. After reading Alexandria Quartet etc, you will not believe he is such a scream. Friends in the diplomatic corps say they reread it whenever they are nostalgic for the old days of the foreign office. 

Parting Shots by Matthew Parris - Originally a series on BBC4 a few years ago, then turned into this amazing book. Carefully chosen and terrific final dispatches when diplomats were heading to their next posts, or retiring. With ever less trustworthy leaders blithely creating their own truths around the world, readers will appreciate the intellectually honest, non PC, often funny as well as disturbing, fly-on-the-wall descriptions of countries, their people and the historic times in which they were written. 

Parenting and Third Culture Kids

Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World
by Robin Pascoe

The author examines the challenges of parenting abroad, shares hard lessons learned, and recounts--with honesty and her trademark humour--what worked for her family.

Wives Abroad: Now and Through History

Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives
by Katie Hickman

300 years of untold stories of women in the British diplomatic corps - sisters, wives, daughters - whose letters and journals weren't usually considered worthy of official archiving. Yet they were the ones who hauled entire households across the world, at their own expense, to set up the mission at each new post. They braved disease, war, leaving children behind never to be seen again, sometimes not seeing another woman who spoke their language for years at a time; in fact sometimes not seeing people outside their homes for years except through items handed through a fire in the front hall so as to avoid the Bubonic plague outside. A must-read for all expatriates anywhere.

Off the Beaten Path by Laura Stoddard 

Diplomatic Baggage: Adventures of a Trailing Spouse

Packing Up: Further Adventures of a Trailing Spouse

Full Marks for Trying: An Unlikely Journey From the Raj to the Rag Trade 

The three above books are all by Brigid Keenan. Mostly hilarious, always, honest, very insightful, occaisionally sad and once in a while appalling (the content, not the writing), she's a career ambassador's wife who was born in India (father in British army) and writes in Full Marks for Trying all about the good and bad (snakes) of growing up in India, which she loved. Left when she was 8 when the British left.  Her adjustments and humour in move after move, with children at various stages and domestic help of various ability, are very funny; her father's letters back to her mother when he was in the border patrol (briefly) during the horrors of Hindus and Muslims trading places and resettling in new homelands after Pakistan was partitioned off are some of the most vivid and appalling accounts this editor has ever seen of that catastrophe.

Reading (or Watching!) Your Way to...


Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


     Far and Beyon' by Unity Dow

     The Heavens May Fall by Unity Dow

     A Marriage of Inconvenience by Michael Dutfield

     Maru by Bessie Head

     Memoirs of an African Democrat by Quett Ketumile Masire and Stephen R. Lewis, Jr.

     The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

     Seretse and Ruth by Wilf and Trish Mbanga

     Seretse Khama 1921-1980 by Neil Parsons, Willie Henderson, and Thomas Tlou

     When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head


     The White Swan


     Living in the Sun (1967) by Souafief

     The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsim Hamid

     The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (also available on DVD)


     Etre Avoir (film)

     Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Hong Kong

     Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood by Martin Booth

     Mao by Jung Change and John Halliday


     The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy


     Art of Jordan by Piotr Bienkowski (editor)

     The old Fodors Guide by Eugene Fodor

     Insight Guide to Jordan by Dorothy Stannard (editor), APA Publications

     Jordan by Ken Mizuuchi

     Last Act in Palmyra by Lindsey Davis

     The Lonely Planet Guide


     The Battle for Haditha

     The Holy Family (GSGI Editor Edwina Issa is in it!)

     Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

     Lawrence of Arabia

     Mission to Mars

     The Mummy Returns

     Passion in the Desert

     Raiders of the Lost Ark


     Sinbad and the Dark Nights/Eye of the Tiger (for children)


     The Good Women of China by Xinran

     My Favourite Wife by Tony Parsons

     Shanghai Baby by Zhou Wei Hui

     Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken

     Time Out Shanghai by Time Out Guides Ltd.

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