Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

Books About 20 of the World’s Great Cities

And more reads on fiction and foreign policy.

Rows of colorful books are pictured on wooden shelves.
Rows of colorful books are pictured on wooden shelves.
Books sit on shelves in the library in Bletchley Park Mansion in Milton Keynes, England, on Sept. 3, 2017. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

In 2016, we asked luminaries to recommend their favorite books about cities worldwide; they picked everything from an absurdist Chinese novel about a plot to buy former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed corpse to a deeply human short story collection set amid the Siege of Sarajevo.

As many of us dig into fiction this holiday season, we thought it was time to revisit that list for inspiration, along with more of our thoughtful, and often surprising, reads on the intersections between foreign policy and fiction, whether in the form of sci-fi, crime novels, or theater. —Chloe Hadavas

Around the World in 40 Books

We asked distinguished writers and thinkers to pick their favorite books about 20 of the world’s great cities.

In 2016, we asked luminaries to recommend their favorite books about cities worldwide; they picked everything from an absurdist Chinese novel about a plot to buy former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed corpse to a deeply human short story collection set amid the Siege of Sarajevo.

As many of us dig into fiction this holiday season, we thought it was time to revisit that list for inspiration, along with more of our thoughtful, and often surprising, reads on the intersections between foreign policy and fiction, whether in the form of sci-fi, crime novels, or theater. —Chloe Hadavas


Foreign Policy illustration

Around the World in 40 Books

We asked distinguished writers and thinkers to pick their favorite books about 20 of the world’s great cities.


A woman looks at a futuristic rendition of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong displayed at the Convention and Exhibition center in Hong Kong on Nov. 21, 2005.
A woman looks at a futuristic rendition of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong displayed at the Convention and Exhibition center in Hong Kong on Nov. 21, 2005.

A woman looks at a futuristic rendition of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong displayed at the Convention and Exhibition center in Hong Kong on Nov. 21, 2005.TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images

How China Became a Sci-Fi Powerhouse

Would-be superstar authors once toiled in obscurity. Online publishing changed all that, Emily Feng writes.


Foreign Policy illustration/Das Erste photo

Germany’s Love Affair With Crime Fiction

The genre is a potent mirror for a country still coming to terms with itself, Thomas Kniesche writes.


People visit the Bund in Shanghai
People visit the Bund in Shanghai

People visit the Bund along the Huangpu River in Shanghai on Aug. 29, 2020.Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Seeking Truth From Fiction

The provocative short stories in Land of Big Numbers offer a window into ordinary life in China with rich material from a reporter’s notebook, Alexa Olesen writes.


Foreign Policy illustration

The Tragedy of Stopping Climate Change

The race is on to tell—or sell—the right story about global warming, Jessi Jezewska Stevens writes.

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.