Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

Next book club we're discussing about women from Russia with The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.

Here's a book summary:
Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America, she cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—yet her distant past is miraculously preserved in her mind's eye.

Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army's approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city.

Join us in Nob Hill on Sunday February 12 at 2pm at La Galleria Cafe.

Next Book:
The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War by Giaconda Belli

The Lacuna - Mexico and US not blending in each other

Let's start the new year in Mexico City and discuss the book The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.

Here's a book summary:
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.
Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.
Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own.
With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. 

We will meet in Portrero Hill neighborhood on Saturday January 21, 2012 at 2pm.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Come join our last book club discussion of the year! We will be discussing our December WOW Book Club on The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. 

Here's a book summary:
The double bind that torques women’s lives is Divakaruni’s key theme in lambent novels and short stories about women who immigrate to America from India, and the curious ways the deep past seeps into the present. Divakaruni often weaves glimmering threads from the Hindu sagas into her fiction. 

Now, in her twelfth book, she goes directly to the source, the Mahabharat, India’s most magnificent epic, and boldly retells this Homeric tale of a battle for supremacy between two branches of a ruling dynasty––and dramatization of the internal war between emotion and reason––from the point of view of its central female character. Smart, resilient, and courageous Panchaali, born of fire, marries all five of the famously heroic Pandava brothers, harbors a secret love, endures a long exile in the wilderness, instigates a catastrophic war, and slowly learns the truth about Krishna, her mysterious friend.
By rendering the women characters as complexly as the men, and fully illuminating the “insanity of war” and the fragility of civilization, Divakaruni’s historic and transporting variation adds new and truly revelatory psychological and social dimensions to the great epic’s indelible story of sacrifice and spiritual awakening. Divakaruni has triumphantly fulfilled a profound mission. 

We'll be meeting at the Haight neighborhood!
Happy Reading!

Sky Burial - A love story of Tibet

Reading a short book (161 pages), as we have short time to read for November - Sky Burial, an Epic Love story of Tibet by Xinran.

Here's a book summary:
It was 1994 when Xinran, a journalist and the author of The Good Women of China, received a telephone call asking her to travel four hours to meet an oddly dressed woman who had just crossed the border from Tibet into China. Xinran made the trip and met the woman, called Shu Wen, who recounted the story of her thirty-year odyssey in the vast landscape of Tibet.
In the haunting Sky Burial, Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love loss, loyalty, and survival.

We'll be meeting in the Folsom/Mission area at Stable Cafe on Saturday (not Sunday) Nov 12 @ 2pm.