November Book Discussion: The Sparrow


The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell


Come join us in November to read The Sparrow nominated by Tom Gorlin. We will be meeting at Cafe Allegro again this month. We will be in the downstairs side room again, because of the upstairs renovation. The cafe' is accessed from the alley behind Magus Bookstore. Brownies and fruit/veggies will be provided :-) See below for information about parking. Cafe Allegro is not charging us to rent the room. Please purchase a beverage if you can, to help support the establishment and keep it free.


Book Overview

"In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being "human." When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong." introduction


"One of 1996′s ten best novels. Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. The Sparrow is one of them.

--Entertainment Weekly

"A NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT . . . Russell shows herself to be a skillful storyteller who subtly and expertly builds suspense."
--USA Today

"AN EXPERIENCE NOT TO BE MISSED . . . If you have to send a group of people to a newly discovered planet to contact a totally unknown species, whom would you choose? How about four Jesuit priests, a young astronomer, a physician, her engineer husband, and a child prostitute-turned-computer-expert? That's who Mary Doria Russell sends in her new novel, The Sparrow. This motley combination of agnostics, true believers, and misfits becomes the first to explore the Alpha Centuri world of Rakhat with both enlightening and disastrous results. . . . Vivid and engaging . . . An incredible novel."
--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"POWERFUL . . . Father Emilio Sandoz [is] the only survivor of a Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat, 'a soul . . . looking for God.' We first meet him in Italy . . . sullen and bitter. . . . But he was not always this way, as we learn through flashbacks that tell the story of the ill-fated trip. . . . The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and intelligence."
--San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author:

Russell was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were both in the military: her father was a Marine Corps drill instructor, and her mother was a Navynurse. She was raised as a Catholic but left the church at age fifteen, and her struggles to figure out how much of that culture to pass on to her children fueled the prominence of religion in her work. She graduated from Glenbard East High School and later she earned a Ph.D in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Parking and Getting There: When classes are in session at UW, parking can be difficult in the U. District. Please allow extra time for parking and for finding our meeting room which is accessed from the alley behind Magus Bookstore. If you can't find parking on the street, keep in mind that parking on campus is free on Sundays, including the Burke Museum, which is only a short walk away. The Burke Museum is at the corner of 17th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street.

Waiting List: If this meetup is full, do not despair! We almost always have room for everyone who wants to come, but you might not be notified until the last day or two. Here's what you should do:

1) Go ahead and get on the waiting list.

2) Start reading the book.

3) When a spot opens up, everyone on the waiting list will receive an email and you must confirm that you want to come before your RSVP is changed to YES.

If you have signed up and later find that you will not be coming, please be considerate and CANCEL your RSVP as soon as possible (at least one week ahead if you can) so that those on the waiting list will have more notice.

No-Show Policy: Seattle Book Club has implemented the three-strike policy. Members will only be allowed to no-show to three events before they are removed from the group. Please see the "Pages" tab on our website for more details. We've set up a Goodreads group for  Seattle Book Club members to connect with each other and share book reviews/ideas online. Here is the link:

Meetup Donations: Please bring a donation of $1-2 to help with the meetup expenses and keep this group going. Of course, it isn't a requirement for participation. Pay if you can and if you can't, that's okay too! We hope you find this group worthwhile.

Next Book: Bring book ideas so that we can vote on what to read next. You can bring the actual book and we'll pass it around, or just print out a synopsis and read it to the group.

Join or login to comment.

  • Martin

    Hi everyone. The Meetup for our January selection, Moo, is now available:

    1 · November 11, 2013

  • Debbie M.

    Very lively discussion, loved it!!

    2 · November 4, 2013

  • Joy

    Thanks to Tom for nominating a book that generated some interesting discussion points! Thanks also to Nile for bringing veggies. It was great to see everyone, as usual :)

    1 · November 3, 2013

  • Sherry

    I'm planning to go but changed to a "no" because other plans might go later than expected.

    November 3, 2013

  • Joy

    We have some people on the wait list, so be sure to cancel your RSVP if you can't make it. Anyone want to volunteer to bring fruit and/or veggies? We have ordered brownies as usual :)

    October 28, 2013

    • Nile

      I can bring them this time :]. Thanks Joy for putting in the brownie order.

      1 · October 29, 2013

  • denise f.

    i have heard good things about ms. russell! i am currently on the "wait list," but i do hope that an opening occurs, so that i will join you folks! will also be reading this book just in case!

    October 15, 2013

    • Kristin

      Hi Denise, you should definitely come anyway! Even if the attendance list is completely full (which it won't be by the event), we've never gotten 100% attendance. :) Hope to see you there!

      October 15, 2013

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