Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, BY ANTHONY DOERR

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014 AT 1:00 PM
"From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work"--. (novelistplus) 
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Reviews

BookList:
/* Starred Review */ A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long— narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.High-Demand Backstory: A multipronged marketing campaign will make the author’s many fans aware of his newest book, and extensive review coverage is bound to enlist many new fans. -- Hooper, Brad (Reviewed 04-15-2014) (Booklist, vol 110, number 16, p23)
Publishers Weekly:
/* Starred Review */ In 1944, the U.S. Air Force bombed the Nazi-occupied French coastal town of St. Malo. Doerr (Memory Wall ) starts his story just before the bombing, then goes back to 1934 to describe two childhoods: those of Werner and Marie-Laure. We meet Werner as a tow-headed German orphan whose math skills earn him a place in an elite Nazi training school—saving him from a life in the mines, but forcing him to continually choose between opportunity and morality. Marie-Laure is blind and grows up in Paris, where her father is a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, until the fall of Paris forces them to St. Malo, the home of Marie-Laure’s eccentric great-uncle, who, along with his longtime housekeeper, joins the Resistance. Doerr throws in a possibly cursed sapphire and the Nazi gemologist searching for it, and weaves in radio, German propaganda, coded partisan messages, scientific facts, and Jules Verne. Eventually, the bombs fall, and the characters’ paths converge, before diverging in the long aftermath that is the rest of the 20th century. If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize–winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war—despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices—cannot negate the pleasures of the world. (May) --Staff (Reviewed February 17, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 07, p)
Library Journal:
/* Starred Review */ Shifting among multiple viewpoints but focusing mostly on blind French teenager Marie-Laure and Werner, a brilliant German soldier just a few years older than she, this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece. The main protagonists are brave, sensitive, and intellectually curious, and in another time they might have been a couple. But they are on opposite sides of the horrors of World War II, and their fates ultimately collide in connection with the radio—a means of resistance for the Allies and just one more avenue of annihilation for the Nazis. Set mostly in the final year of the war but moving back to the 1930s and forward to the present, the novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending. Marie-Laure and Werner both suffer crushing losses and struggle to survive with dignity amid Hitler's swath of cruelty and destruction. VERDICT Doerr (The Shell Collector ) has received multiple honors for his fiction, including four O. Henry Prizes and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His latest is highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's similarly haunting The English Patient .— Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC --Evelyn Beck (Reviewed February 1, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 2, p62)
Kirkus:
/* Starred Review */ Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect. In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She's taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure's father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children's House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he's put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she's broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure's father's having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major. Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.(Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2014)



Thursday, August 14, 2014

SWEET TOOTH, BY IAN McEWAN

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME:  MONDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 AT 1:00 PM.


Cambridge student Serena Frome's beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for M15. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England's legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named "Sweet Tooth." Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves the stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one. (Random House)



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014 LONGLIST ANNOUNCED

LONDON — Karen Joy Fowler and Joshua Ferris were among four American novelists who made it onto the 13-strong longlist of the 2014 Man Booker Prize, which for the first time is open to all novels originally written in English and published in Britain.  http://nyti.ms/1luyBOZ


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE, BY ADAOBI TRICIA NWAUBANI

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: TUESDAY, AUGUST12, 2014 AT 11:00 AM



Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani was born in Enugu, Nigeria. She earned her very first income from winning a writing competition at the age of thirteen. As a teenager, she secretly dreamed of becoming a CIA or KGB spy. She ended up studying Psychology at the University of Ibadan instead. She lives in Abuja, Nigeria. I Do Not Come to You by Chance is her first novel. (Hyperion)

A deeply moving debut novel set amid the perilous world of Nigerian email scams, I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of one young man and the family who loves him.
Being the opera of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges?a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibilities, too. But times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola, the sugar in Kingsley?s tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply; he cannot afford her bride price.
It hasn?t always been like this. For much of his young life, Kingsley believed that education was everything, that through wisdom, all things were possible. Now he worries that without a ?long-leg??someone who knows someone who can help him?his degrees will do nothing but adorn the walls of his parents? low-rent house. And when a tragedy befalls his family, Kingsley learns the hardest lesson of all: education may be the language of success in Nigeria, but it?s money that does the talking.
Unconditional family support may be the way in Nigeria, but when Kingsley turns to his Uncle Boniface for help, he learns that charity may come with strings attached. Boniface?aka Cash Daddy?is an exuberant character who suffers from elephantiasis of the pocket. He?s also rumored to run a successful empire of email scams. But he can help. With Cash Daddy?s intervention, Kingsley and his family can be as safe as a tortoise in its shell. It?s up to Kingsley now to reconcile his passion for knowledge with his hunger for money, and to fully assume his role of first son. But can he do it without being drawn into this outlandish mileu? (Hyperion)





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Looking Back at Nadine Gordimer's Life and Work


Accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer who died on Sunday at 90, said “I am what I suppose would be called a natural writer. I did not make any decision to become one. I did not, at the beginning, expect to earn a living by being read. I wrote as a child out of the joy of apprehending life through my senses — the look and scent and feel of things; and soon out of the emotions that puzzled me or raged within me and which took form, found some enlightenment, solace and delight, shaped in the written word.” (John Williams, New York Times) http://nyti.ms/1rbXWnW

Remembering Nadine Gordimer, a Lioness of Literary Activism

At 90 years of age, the South African writer Nadine Gordimer died Sunday, leaving behind a global legacy of both art and activism. “By the time she won the Nobel Prize in 1991, at age 68,” her obituary in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa) recalls, she had “10 novels, nearly 20 collections of stories or essays and innumerable pieces of journalism to her name.” (Jake Flanigin, New York Times)http://nyti.ms/1nsNHnU