Cultural Reads 68: India’s Bandit Queen, Korean Spies, Brazilian Books

Good morning, 

And welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with worldwide book, music, and movie recommendations. 

In today’s newsletter: India’s Bandit Queen, Skip Schiphol Airport Line,  Korean Spies, Best Brazilian Books, 10 Argentinian Movies, Somewhere Soul & Best Movie per Country.

10 Stunning Brazilian Reads

📗 10 Stunning Brazilian Reads

I went on a work trip to Brazil last week. And what better way to know a culture than through its literature? 

That’s why I’m sharing the ten best Brazilian books to read today!

Brazil is also the first complete country profile with posts about books, movies, and music, including a personally designed Spotify playlist.

🎞️ Best Argentinian Movies | Top 10

One of my first posts in 2021 was about the best 5 Argentinian movies.

Three years later (and hopefully more experienced), I did a remake and turned it into a top 10.

Argentina has a vast movie scene, one of the best Latin actors in the world, and a fantastic list of great movies. 

Check out the best Argentinian movies!

📕 India's Bandit Queen (I, Phoolan Devi)

I randomly ran into I Phoolan Devi in a secondhand bookstore. Several Goodreads readers mentioned it as their all-time favorite book, so I decided to pick it up.

Phoolan Devi grew up in a poor rural Indian family and married a much older man at eleven. She was raped, abused, and almost died several times. 

She eventually got kidnapped by a gang of bandits and ended up becoming their leader. 

This unbelievable true story makes your blood boil with the injustice of the system and the amount of human suffering, but it is also incredibly adventurous and courageous. 

It’s incredible how much women have suffered throughout history. If you’re interested in this theme, you should also consider reading Womaning in IndiaWhat We Talk About When We Talk About RapeSong of KieuWoman at Point Zero, and The Sex Lives of African Women.

India's Bandit Queen

🍿 Best Movie Per Country (Worldwide)

What is the best movie per country? You can find out on this map.

Some options are a little strange, so I’m still determining the accuracy, but there are several interesting new names on there!

🎙️ Somewhere Soul Music

I recently discovered an Instagram account called Somewhere Soul that helps you find new music and upcoming artists. 

The guy who set it up also has great Spotify playlists like Under the Radar Gems and Top 50 Jazz Albums of 2023

✈️ Skip The Airport Line (Amsterdam)

If you ever travel through Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, use this website to skip the security line. 

It’s fully free and by picking a timeslot you’re boarding process will be much faster. 

🎬 Hunt (South Korea)

If you like a good action thriller or Korean moviesHunt should be on your watch list. 

After an unsuccessful attempt to kill the Korean president in the United States, the two departments of the South Korean secret police are set up against each other to find a North Korean spy in their midst. The result is an intriguing emotional rollercoaster where everyone is a suspect. 

It’s good to have some historical background to understand this movie better.

  • South Korea was split into two after WWII.
  • This split led to the Korean War from 1950-53. 
  • The South had a military dictatorship in the 60s and 70s.
  • In the 80s, protests and student uprisings led to the end of the dictatorship and free elections. 
  • The most famous of these protests is the Gwangju Uprising, which led to an estimated massacre of 600-2300 people. This event is shown in the movie, but also the theme of the film A Taxi Driver.

In Hunt, you can see the tensions between the two Koreas, the protests, the defection of North Korean pilot Lee Woong-pyung (1983), and the Aung San terrorist attack (1983).

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