Monday Evening Book Club October Selection

The Monday Evening Book Club will meet in the Training Room on October 1Do Not Say We Have Nothing6 at 7 pm. This month we’re discussing Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien.

About the book

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman called Ai-Ming, who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests.

Ai-Ming tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China – from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989.  It is a story of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians – the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai – struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.  Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming – and for Marie.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing was the winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. (Publisher)

About Madeleine Thien (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

The Cultural Revolution: All you need to know about China’s political convulsion (The Guardian) 

It was the worst of times: China is still in denial about its “spiritual holocaust” (The Economist)

The Great Leap Forward (Chinese posters)

Tiananmen Square, then and now (The Atlantic)

Madeleine Thien: ‘In China you learn a lot from what people don’t tell you’ (The Guardian) 

Madeleine Thien on the writing process behind her prize-winning novel (Banff Centre)

Quill and Quire book review

New York Times book review

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club October Selection

Image result for has seen the wind by w o mitchell

The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, October 11 in the Training Room to discuss Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell.

About the book…

When W.O. Mitchell died in 1998 he was described as “Canada’s best-loved writer.” Every commentator agreed that his best – and his best-loved – book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since it was first published in 1947, this book has sold almost a million copies in Canada.
As we enter the world of four-year-old Brian O’Connal, his father the druggist, his Uncle Sean, his mother, and his formidable Scotch grandmother (“she belshes…a lot”), it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary book. As we watch Brian grow up, the prairie and its surprising inhabitants like the Ben and Saint Sammy – and the rich variety of small-town characters – become unforgettable. This book will be a delightful surprise for all those who are aware of it, but have never quite got around to reading it, till now. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell, the only Canadian author recognizable by initials alone, was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914. Educated at the University of Manitoba, he lived most of his life in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, where for many years he was the most renowned resident in High River.

During a very varied career Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Macleans. A gifted teacher, he was visiting professor at the University of Windsor for several years, and a creative writing instructor at the Banff Centre for many summers.

His best-loved book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since its publication in 1947 it has sold over half a million copies in Canada alone, and is hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood. The classic edition, illustrated by William Kurelek, became a bestseller in 1991. Complementing that book is his 1981 best-seller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel, although Since Daisy Creek (1984) and Ladybug, Ladybug…(1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art’s Sake (1992) and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993), illustrated by Wesley W. Bates, were also well-received best-sellers. Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), he was also noted for his two collections of short stories, Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). Based on the legendary CBC radio series, both classic story collections won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell died in Calgary in 1998.

CanLit Canon Review #11 (Toronto Review of Books)

Amy’s Marathon of Books (blog posting)

W.O. Mitchell blows up an outhouse (an interview with Peter Gzowski)

W.O. Mitchell talks Christmas presents, 1976

About W.O. Mitchell

An interview with W.O. Mitchell about his life and Who Has Seen the Wind 

 

Seniors Book Club September Selection

House at the edge of nightThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, September 13 in Forsyth Hall to discuss The House at the Edge of Night, a novel by Catherine Banner.

About the book …

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there. (Publisher)

About the author …

Catherine Banner was born in Cambridge, UK, in 1989 and began writing at the age of fourteen. She studied English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before moving to County Durham where she worked as a secondary school teacher. She has previously published a trilogy of young adult novels, The Last Descendants. She currently lives in Turin, Italy, with her husband.

Her debut adult novel, The House at the Edge of Night, tells the story of the 2008 financial crisis and 95 years of European history through one family and their bar on a tiny Mediterranean island. It has been published in 22 languages, and was listed as a Kirkus Reviews and NPR best book of 2016. Her second novel will be published in the summer of 2018.

Catherine is a member of Italian PEN and PEN Writers’ Circle. She is also the writing consultant for Project VOICE, a not-for-profit creative writing project which aims to provide a platform for development, peace, social care and humanitarian workers to tell the stories of their work in their own countries, in their own words. (author website)

An author interview

A UK publisher’s Q & A

A Penguin Random House Reader’s Guide

National Post book review

NPR book review

“Innocents uncovered” – an essay by Catherine Banner

“What getting published at 16 taught me about becoming a writer” by Catherine Banner

 

 

Monday Evening Book Club September Selection

kays-lucky-coin-variety-9781501156120_hrThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet in Forsyth Hall on September 11 at 7 pm. This month we’re discussing Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi.

About the book…

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Varietyevocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family. (Publisher)

 

Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada from South Korea in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writersthe Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and National University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada, her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a 2016 Toronto Book Awards finalist and one of CBC Books’ “12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of 2016”.

For over 15 years, Ann has been a teacher with the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) working primarily with English language learners, students in Special Education, and students with academic and social-emotional needs. She has served on many committees and groups that address equity issues and student well-being.

As the current chair of the YRDSB Network of Educators for Korean-Canadian Students (NEKS), Ann is committed to providing support for educators who work with students and parents/guardians of Korean-Canadian heritage, as well as to promote opportunities for community building. Ann also serves as a mentor for Arts & Science students at the University of Toronto interested in connecting with alumni established in the Arts industry and is a speaker with Passages Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. (https://annykchoi.com/about/)

Author website

An audio interview & print summary (with CBC’s Shelagh Rogers)

A Gnu Journal interview with Ann Y.K. Choi

Publisher’s Discussion Questions

A Toronto Star book review

A Globe and Mail book review

Yu-Rhee versus Mary: does the name matter? by Ann Y.K. Choi

Ann Y.K. Choi’s essay on getting published

A Global News video clip

A Wikipedia article about the Korean War

Seniors Book Club June Selection

kays-lucky-coin-variety-9781501156120_hrThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, June 14 in the Training Room to discuss Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, a novel by Ann Y.K. Choi.

About the book …

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family. (Publisher)

 

Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada from South Korea in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and National University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada, her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a 2016 Toronto Book Awards finalist and one of CBC Books’ “12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of 2016”.

For over 15 years, Ann has been a teacher with the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) working primarily with English language learners, students in Special Education, and students with academic and social-emotional needs. She has served on many committees and groups that address equity issues and student well-being.

As the current chair of the YRDSB Network of Educators for Korean-Canadian Students (NEKS), Ann is committed to providing support for educators who work with students and parents/guardians of Korean-Canadian heritage, as well as to promote opportunities for community building. Ann also serves as a mentor for Arts & Science students at the University of Toronto interested in connecting with alumni established in the Arts industry and is a speaker with Passages Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. (https://annykchoi.com/about/)

Author website

An audio interview & print summary (with CBC’s Shelagh Rogers)

A Gnu Journal interview with Ann Y.K. Choi

Publisher’s Discussion Questions

A Toronto Star book review

A Globe and Mail book review

Yu-Rhee versus Mary: does the name matter? by Ann Y.K. Choi

Ann Y.K. Choi’s essay on getting published

A Global News video clip

A Wikipedia article about the Korean War