Gramnet Book Club: reading across worlds
‘It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained’ (Salman Rushdie).
‘It began to dawn on me that although fiction was undoubtedly fictitious it could also be true or false, not with the truth or falsehood of a news item but as to its disinterestedness, its intention, its integrity’ (Chinua Achebe).
At the Gramnet Book Club we read and discuss stories which are, in important respects, about migration – about the experiences of travelling across and between the borders of nations, languages and cultures. These might be historical in focus, or contemporary; they are usually fictional but sometimes autobiographical. Or they may be a complicated mixture of the literary and the journalistic. What the books we have read all have in common is that they use the creativity of literary writing to reflect on, to grapple with, to try to understand, the experience of migrant individuals and peoples.
We meet about 4 times a year, usually in the warm and welcoming surroundings of Cafe Phoenix. No expertise necessary: please feel free to join us for a friendly and relaxed chat about books which are wonderful (mostly) and interesting (always).
If you have any questions, or would like to start coming along, you can contact the organizer, Andy Smith.
The book club will meet on Monday 10th October to discuss Meg Vandermerwe’s ‘Zebra Crossing’, a novel about Zimbabwean migrants in Cape Town during the World Cup. The club meets in Cafe Bennu, on Woodlands Road, from 17.00-19.00.
The books that we’ve read so far in the Book Club are listed below.
They’ve taken us from Ethiopia to Ireland to the Dominican Republic, to Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Brazil, Hungary, Iran, the Congo, via all kinds of stopping-off points, cross-overs as well as all kinds of other places that would, should or could exist, from the twenty-first century back to the seventeenth.
Sweetness in the Belly (Camilla Gibb);
Brick Lane (Monica Ali);
The Speckled People (Hugo Hamilton);
The Hare with Amber Eyes (Edmund de Waal);
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz);
Songlines (Bruce Chatwin);
Voyageurs (Margaret Elphinstone);
Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie);
The Lonely Londoners (Sam Selvon);
Beer in the Snooker Club (Waguih Ghali);
The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton);
Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese);
Budapest (Chico Buarque);
Creole (Jose Eduardo Agualusa);
The Blood of Flowers (Anita Amirrezvani);
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver);
Season of Migration to the North (Tayeb Salih);
Amy Foster (Joseph Conrad);
The Arrival (Shaun Tan);
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