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The daughter of a Greenlandic Inuit mother and an established, Danish physician father, Smilla Qaaviqaaq Jaspersen is an outsider caught between two cultures in Copenhagen. When her young neighbor, a fellow Greenlander, plunges from a rooftop to his death, Smilla suspects foul play. Despite the police ruling that the boy died from an accidental fall, Smilla pushes on, relying on her world-class expertise of ice and innate understanding of snow to seek out the truth, regardless of where it takes her. Danish author Peter Høeg’s 1992 debut became an instant sensation, and, when an English translation by Tiina Nunnally was published in 1993, it spent multiple weeks on the New York Times best-seller list before being named TIME’s novel of the year—an impressive feat for a murder mystery that examines Denmark’s colonial past. —Meg Zukin

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