- May Meetup: Disoriental
RSVPs for this meetup will open up on Sunday, April 21 at 8:00 PM. For our May Meetup, we will be reading Disoriental by Negar Djavadi. The book was first published in 2016. It runs 320 pages. The GoodReads blurb: The story of a young girl and her family, at the core of an exploration of Iranian history. WINNER: Prix du Style, Prix de la Porte Dorée, Lire Best Debut Novel, Le Prix du Roman News. Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five, with a new life and the prospect of a child, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which reach her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them. In this high-spirited, kaleidoscopic story, key moments of Iranian history, politics, and culture punctuate stories of family drama and triumph. Yet it is Kimiâ herself—punk-rock aficionado, storyteller extraordinaire, a Scheherazade of our time, and above all a modern woman divided between family traditions and her own “disorientalization”—who forms the heart of this bestselling and beloved novel.
- April Meetup: We Hope for Better Things
RSVPs for this meetup will open up on Sunday, March 24 at 8:00 PM. For our April Meetup, we will be reading We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels. Just published this year, this novel runs 400 pages. This meetup takes place on Easter and we may have a change in the venue or time. If St. Elmo's closes early, we might meet in the two hour block before it closes. Or, if St. Elmo's is closed all together, we may meet at another nearby venue. I will update as we have more clarity closer to the event. The GoodReads blurb is: When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request--that she look up a relative she didn't know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos--seems like it isn't worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time. At her great-aunt's 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think. Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time--from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War--to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.
- March Meetup: Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Note: RSVPs open for this meetup on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 8:00 PM. For our March meetup, we will be reading Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin. Published in 1953, one version of it runs 240 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
- Feb Meetup: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Note: RSVPs open for this meetup on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 8pm. For our February meetup, we will be reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, the novel runs 496 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story. Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.
- Jan Meetup: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Note: RSVPs open for this meetup on Sunday, December 23,[masked]:00 PM. For our January 2019 meetup, we will be reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Published in 2018, the hardcover version runs 308 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-illusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.
- Dec Meetup: Nutshell by Ian McEwan
Note: RSVPs for this meetup open on Sunday, November 18th at 8pm. For December, we will be reading Nutshell by Ian McEwan. The hardcover version of this novel is only 208 pages. It was first published in 2016. The GoodReads blurb is Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home--a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse--but not with John. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy's womb. Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshellis a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.
- Nov Meetup: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Note: RSVPs open for this meetup on Sunday, October 21st at 8pm. For our November meetup, we will be reading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Published in 2010, the novel runs 341 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
- Oct Meetup: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Note: RSVPs for this meeup open on Sunday, September 23 at 8pm. For our October meetup, we will be reading Warlight by Michael Ondaatje. Just published this year, the novel runs 304 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.
- Sept Meetup: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Note: RSVPs for this meetup open Sunday, August 19th at 8pm. For our September meetup, we will be reading "The Power" by Naomi Alderman. It was first published in 2016 and the hardcover version runs 341 pages. The GoodReads blurb is: In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly. This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
- August Meetup: Sing, Unburied, Sing
Note: RSVPs for this meetup open Sunday, July 22, 2018, 8:00 PM. For our August meetup, we will be reading "Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward. The hardcover runs 285 pages and it was first published in 2017. The GoodReads blurb is: An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds. Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author.