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Casandra has very generously volunteered to lead us in a discussion of "Girl, Woman, Other", the award-winning novel written by British author Bernardine Evaristo. Thank you, Casandra, so much for selecting this great novel and for leading our June discussion!
The book was the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize alongside Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, and has received over 30 Book of the Year and Decade honors, alongside recognition as one of Barack Obama's Top 19 Books for 2019 and Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2019. Its prizes include Fiction Book of the Year at the 2020 British Book Awards where she also won Author of the Year. It also won the Indie Book Award for Fiction, the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage and it received many nominations including being a finalist for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, Australia Book Industry Awards and the Women's Prize for Fiction.
The central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.
Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving style that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of modern life most rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.
"Girl, Woman, Other" is told from the point of view of 12 British women of color who range in age from 19 to 93. The women represent a diversity of classes, cultures and sexual identities.
A nuanced and entertaining novel about women of color in contemporary Britain, the novel is structured around the opening night of a play called "The Last Amazon Of Dahomey", it's written by a woman named Amma, who's made a name for herself mostly in radical experimental theater. But this new play about African women warriors in the 18th and 19th centuries is debuting not in some fringe theater space, but at the mainstream National Theatre in London. It turns out to be a hit.
Evaristo presents their stories in a free-flowing fragmented style that she calls fusion fiction, all of which can make "Girl, Woman, Other" sound like, if not agitprop, a call to duty rather than pleasure. But as the novel moves along, something wonderful happens - humor materializes. As seriously as Evaristo's characters take themselves and the issues like racism that intrude on their lives, there's also a witty dimension to their stories. Many of these women are onto themselves and each other.
Please join us if you can for our June discussion of this important new novel.
(The above brief description of this novel was adapted from the NPR Fresh Air, Booker Prize and Wikipedia websites.)
UPDATE 6/9/2021 - new outdoor location
This meeting will be held in person at Balboa Park Boulevard and Presidents Way Lawn. Please bring something to sit on if you wish.
Mating (1991) is a novel by American author Norman Rush. It is a first-person narrative by an unnamed American anthropology graduate student in Botswana around 1980. It focuses on her relationship with Nelson Denoon, a controversial American anthropologist who has founded an experimental matriarchal village in the Kalahari desert.
Mating won the 1991 National Book Award for Fiction.
Wikipedia's page also contains numerous excerpts of reviews that you may find helpful.
Summary from San Diego City Library
The narrator of this splendidly expansive novel of high intellect and grand passion is an American anthropologist at loose ends in the South African republic of Botswana. She has a noble and exacting mind, a good waist, and a busted thesis project. She also has a yen for Nelson Denoon, a charismatic intellectual who is rumored to have founded a secretive and unorthodox utopian society in a remote corner of the Kalahari--one in which he is virtually the only man. What ensues is both a quest and an exuberant comedy of manners, a book that explores the deepest canyons of eros even as it asks large questions about the good society, the geopolitics of poverty, and the baffling mystery of what men and women really want.
The 14th episode of Ulysses is very long, and we have decided to give ourselves an entire month to complete the reading. Therefore, the meeting has been scheduled for July 15th.
The Circe episode starts with "The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown"; and ends with "A white lambkin peeps out of his waistcoat pocket.)"
Ann Melia will be your host for this meeting.
The Zoom link will be visible to the attendees. If you follow this link, it will not be necessary to enter the password.
Here is a link to Ulysses.
Here is a link to The Odyssey (the translation that Joyce reportedly used).
If you prefer to use a different translation that's fine but using the same one might be easier to follow.
Here are links to Joyce's two schemas for Ulysses and to a key to the corresponding books in The Odyssey.
Regina has very kindly arranged for a July online discussion with Reneé Weissenburger of J.D. Salinger's classic coming-of-age novel "The Catcher in the Rye". Many of you will remember Reneé from the great discussions of "Mrs Dalloway" she led for us last year. Thank you so much, Reneé, for once again helping us out, and thank you, Regina for your initiative in organizing all of this!
The Catcher in the Rye was partially published in serial form in 1945–1946 and as a novel in 1951. Since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has become one of the most widely read post-World War II American novels. It was originally intended for adults but is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst, alienation, and as a critique on superficiality in society. It has been translated widely. Most of us probably first encountered this novel as teenagers. As the novel turns 70, about one million copies are still being sold each year, with total sales to date of over 65 million books.
The novel's protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion, for its poignant, contemporary treatment of complex human issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, sex, and depression.
"The Catcher in the Rye" was included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, it was listed at number 15 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
If you've ever met Reneé, you will know she is deeply interested in both art and literature. She has been teaching both in various locations in San Diego for many years.
Please join us if you can for our July online discussion of this milestone work of 20th century fiction.
* Note: The above brief summary was excerpted from online sources.