Monday, July 25, 2011

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Let's take a ride towarsd Nigeria in our next book selection: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Here's a book summary:
With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor's beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna's twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and they must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all.

We will be meeting at Simple Pleasures Cafe in the Richmond neighborhood on Sunday August 21 at 2pm.

Life in prison sounds like a low budget retreat!

This book did not receive positive feedback from book club members - much of it had to do with a lack of being able to engage with the main protagonist Piper Kerman, whose memoir resembled more of a diary than providing insightful stories and descriptions of hardship prison life. She reminded us of her privilege, as she was able to have a job waiting for her at the end of her sentence as well as having a devoted boyfriend who visited her every week. 

There was frustration in figuring out her relationships with the different characters in the book, whom all seem to share a far more interesting story as Piper. Why didn't she talk about them in full details? Weren't there any hardships in even being able to bond within the prison? Everything seemed to have always worked out, but in reality, relationships are always complicated and one would assume that this is enhanced within prison. Yet, we just get a more surface telling of Piper's experiences in jail. 

Some commented that the story seem to get quite interesting towards the end of the book when she started to describe the conditions of Oklahoma City and Chicago. Danbury just seem too rosy in comparison. It is safe to say that Piper hasn't shared her whole story and maybe that's why we all felt robbed. The unsung hero of the story is actually Larry, her devoted boyfriend, which made Piper sound quite a whiner when she would complaint and miss him. It didn't seem to she really ever took responsibility of her actions, and literally thought she was going to get away with her drug-smuggling activities. The book was troublesome, but it was her story to share.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Thanks to all who came out on Gay Pride weekend to discuss our book set in Iraq. Now we're coming back to the US and read Orange is the New Black, My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman.

Here's a book summary:

When federal agents knocked on her door with an indictment in hand, Piper Kerman barely resembled the reckless young woman she was shortly after graduating Smith College. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, Piper was forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

Following a plea deal for her 10-year-old crime, Piper spent a year in the infamous women’s correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, which she found to be no “Club Fed.” In Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison , Piper takes readers into B-Dorm, a community of colorful, eccentric, vividly drawn women. Their stories raise issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison.

We'll be meeting at Rose Tea at 549 Irving Street in the Inner Sunset neighborhood on Sunday July 24.