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Upcoming events (5)
This month, we will be reading an Indian author, but a different kind of Indian author: the most famous of American-Indian/Native American writers - Sherman Alexie (I am going to do one non-Asian-but-still-somehow-related book a year and this is the pick for 2019). Topping the list of books Americans wanted censored in 2014 (it was one of the books readers tried hardest to remove from the shelves of America’s libraries), this is a young adult novel that tells the story of Junior, a young boy who wants to be a cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on 'the rez' to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, candid, frank and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is based on the author's own experiences, chronicling the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
From Trump's proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome. In this much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling UK edition, hailed by Zadie Smith as 'lively and vital', editors Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman hand the microphone to an incredible range of writers whose humanity and right to be in the US is under attack. Chigozie Obioma unpacks an Igbo proverb that helped him navigate his journey to America from Nigeria. Jenny Zhang analyzes cultural appropriation in nineties fashion, recalling her own pain and confusion as a teenager trying to fit in. Fatimah Asghar describes the flood of memory and emotion triggered by an encounter with an Uber driver from Kashmir. Alexander Chee writes of a visit to Korea that changed his relationship to his heritage. These writers, and the many others in this singular collection, share powerful personal stories of living between cultures and languages while struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, troubling and uplifting, the essays in The Good Immigrant USA come together to create a provocative, conversation-sparking, multivocal portrait of America now. This meetup will be a joint meetup with the African Caribbean Book Club.
Our annual trip to the Hay Literary Festival (hayfestival.org). We will stay in a hotel within easy travel range to the site. Cars will leave London at 9am Sat 25th May and we will be back by 7pm on Bank Holiday Monday 27th May 2019. Approx cost £250 per person for accommodation and travel.
"My stories, my family's stories, were not stories in India. They were just life. When I left and made new friends in a new country, only then did the things that happened to my family, the things we had done, become stories. Stories worth telling, stories worth writing down." Like one in six people in India, Sujatha Gidla was born an untouchable. Her mother and uncles were born in the last days of British colonial rule. They grew up in a world marked by poverty and injustice, but also full of possibility. In the slums where they lived, everyone had a political allegiance. Rallies, agitations and arrests were commonplace. The independence movement promised freedom but for untouchables and other poor and working people, little changed. In candid, rich, novelistic prose, Ants Among Elephants tells Gidla's remarkable family story, detailing her uncle's emergence as a poet and revolutionary and her mother's struggle for emancipation through education. A moving portrait of love, hardship and struggle, Ants Among Elephants is a personal history of modern India, told from the bottom up. 'Outstanding in the intensity and scale of its revelations... Gidla's book achieves the emotional power of V.S. Naipaul's great novel A House for Mr Biswas.' --Pankaj Mishra, New York Review of Books 'The most striking work of non-fiction set in India since Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.' -- Economist 'The story Gidla recounts is so urgent and affecting that it is easy to overlook the extraordinary literary skill with which she tells it.' Literary Review 'Unsentimental, deeply poignant... Gidla writes with quiet, fierce conviction.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Book Review 'This is a vital and illuminating book. Sujatha Gidla tells it like it is. She rips the pious mask off a society that institutionalises injustice and inhumanity in the name of ancient culture and religious practice. We need libraries full of books like hers.' --Arundhati Roy