The Austin Contemporary Fiction Book Club Message Board › Christine's group book selection
Happy New Year!
As Peter mentioned, we will be doing polls for the books we will read this year.
Below I have the list of books for my group with a brief description for each. I will be doing the poll later today. As you will see we have a great list! I am excited to start reading. Also, I took the time of writing out the description to each book vs sending out links to amazon etc. however once I tried to copy here, I had exceeded my character limit. Grumble.... So this is why I had to post this in two discussions. My apologies but since I had done the work, I felt I had to get this all in :)
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children, a masterly new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own.
Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, long ago compromised her dream to be a successful artist, mother and lover. She has instead become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Then into her life arrives the glamorous and cosmopolitan Shahids—her new student Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale, and his parents: Skandar, a dashing Lebanese professor who has come to Boston for a fellowship at Harvard, and Sirena, an effortlessly alluring Italian artist.
When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies, Nora is drawn deep into the complex world of the Shahid family; she finds herself falling in love with them, separately and together. Nora’s happiness explodes her boundaries, and she discovers in herself an unprecedented ferocity—one that puts her beliefs and her sense of self at stake.
Told with urgency, intimacy and piercing emotion, this brilliant novel of passion and artistic fulfillment explores the intensity, thrill—and the devastating
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
A “finely wrought, flawlessly written” novel (New York Times Book Review), set on a small island in the Puget Sound, that is “at various moments a courtroom drama, an interracial love story, and a war chronicle” (San Francisco Chronicle). “Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true” (Pico Iyer, Time). Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. A fall 1999 major motion picture.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by: Heidi W. Durrow
Rachel, the daughter of a danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.
Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity.
This searing and heartwrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society’s ideas of race and class is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis
Renowned through four award-winning books for his gritty and revelatory visions of the Caribbean, Bob Shacochis returns to occupied Haiti in The Woman Who Lost Her Soul before sweeping across time and continents to unravel tangled knots of romance, espionage, and vengeance. In riveting prose, Shacochis builds a complex and disturbing story about the coming of age of America in a pre-9/11 world.
When humanitarian lawyer Tom Harrington travels to Haiti to investigate the murder of a beautiful and seductive photojournalist, he is confronted with a dangerous landscape riddled with poverty, corruption, and voodoo. It’s the late 1990s, a time of brutal guerrilla warfare and civilian kidnappings, and everyone has secrets. The journalist, whom he knew years before as Jackie Scott, had a bigger investment in Haiti than it seemed, and to make sense of her death, Tom must plunge back into a thorny past and his complicated ties to both Jackie and Eville Burnette, a member of Special Forces who has been assigned to protect her.
From the violent, bandit-dominated terrain of World War II Dubrovnik to the exquisitely rendered Istanbul in the 1980s, Shacochis brandishes Jackie’s shadowy family history with daring agility. Caught between her first love and the
The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that winter night long ago.
A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.
Housekeeping: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, the eccentric and remote sister of their dead mother. The family house is in the small town of Fingerbone on a glacial lake in the Far West, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transcience.