Morning book clubbers!
Gosh, last night was fun! We had five newcomers (hiya Bad Kelly, Southern Lauren, Scottish Laura, Tatiana who used to work with me, and Mountain Louise). It was also lovely to see Sophia from last month (glad we didn’t scare you too much!) and the usual suspects in the form of Sarah, Jess, Little Kelly, and Courtney. Oh, and me, of course.
Americanah was the first book in ages that there was heated and prolonged discussion. There were a couple of dissenters who didn’t like the book (we felt the writing was too slow and didn’t convey much… story. As someone succinctly put it, “it’s like you could see she wanted to go somewhere, but she just never got there”.) However, despite that, everyone could get very animated about the various themes in the novel.
While we pretty much all hated the narrative style, we did feel that it echoed the feeling of uncertainty and not belonging that ran through the book. The blog posts were the one redeeming feature of the style. We all wished there were more of these – they seemed to give a much needed commentary to the story the author was trying to tell.
There was a long discussion about race, about being new to a country, about being an immigrant. Something that most of us sitting round the table could empathise with, most of us being immigrants into Switzerland. There were discussions about how far someone should go to assimilate into their new culture, and whether some of the situations in the novel were indicative of the US in particular, or whether it happened in all cultures.
We then descended into a long protracted discussion on the various men in Ifemelu’s life. We dissected each one and examined her treatment of each. We then ordered another bottle of wine.
After a surprisingly close vote, this month we’re ready Sally O’s recommendation of The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, the newest winner of the Man Booker Prize.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a love story unfolding over half a century between a doctor and his uncle’s wife.
Taking its title from one of the most famous books in Japanese literature, written by the great haiku poet Basho, Flanagan’s novel has as its heart one of the most infamous episodes of Japanese history, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.
In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.