Please join us for dinner, a book discussion and a holiday gift exchange. The December book is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It was awarded both the Orange Prize for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. It was placed on several top book lists, including Amazon's Best Books of the Year (2001).
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
Bel Canto is based upon the 1996/97 Lima Crisis in which 14 members of the Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA) took hostage hundreds of high-level diplomats, government and military officials and business executives who were attending a Birthday celebration for Japan's Emperor Akihoto. This occurred at the official residence of Japan's ambassador to Peru and is also known as the Japanese embassy hostage crisis. Most of the hostages were quickly released however 72 hostages were held for 126 days. Among the hostages were Peruvian foreign minister Francisco Tudela and the Japanese ambassador Morihita Aoki. For a historical reference, you might watch this 1997 news clip about the Lima Crisis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H18UbJVMZQo
The Howard County Public Library has 10 copies of Bel Canto and as of November 20 all copies are checked out so if you are getting this from the Library, make your book request early.
For the December Meeting we will be meeting at a different date and location than normal. Normally we meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month but for December we are meeting on the 2nd Thursday of the month, December 13. The earlier meeting will hopefully give people time to enjoy their Holiday. Normally we meet at the Columbia Mall but to avoid the Holiday shopping traffic at the Mall, we are instead meeting at Houlihan's in Columbia/Elkridge ( http://www.houlihans.com/home.aspx ). To make this a more festive event, we will be enjoying dinner and a small gift exchange. Please bring an inexpensive (less than $10) wrapped gift.