Seniors Book Club November Selection

ForgivenessThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, November 14 in the second floor Training Room to discuss this year’s winner of Canada Reads, the memoir Forgiveness : a gift from my grandparents by Mark Sakamoto.

About the book …

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean traded his quiet yet troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada for the ravages of war overseas. On the other side of the country, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their pleasant life in Vancouver starting to fade away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ralph found himself one of the many Canadians captured by the Japanese in December 1941. He would live out his war in a prison camp, enduring beatings, starvation, electric feet and a journey on a hell ship to Japan, watching his friends and countrymen die all around him. Mitsue and her family were ordered out of their home and were packed off to a work farm in rural Alberta, leaving many of their possessions behind. By the end of the war, Ralph was broken but had survived. The Sakamotos lost everything when the community centre housing their possessions was burned to the ground, and the $25 compensation from the government meant they had no choice but to start again.

Forgiveness intertwines the compelling stories of Ralph MacLean and the Sakamotos as the war rips their lives and their humanity out of their grasp. But somehow, despite facing such enormous transgressions against them, the two families learned to forgive. Without the depth of their forgiveness, this book’s author, Mark Sakamoto, would never have existed.

Author website

Author biography

Forgiveness on Canada Reads

A Maclean’s interview

A CBC Books interview

A National Post book review

A Ripple Effects Blog book review

A CBC Q Radio interview with Mark Sakamoto and Joy Kogawa

Mark Sakamoto about “Where I Write”

“Why Mark Sakamoto’s father got emotional reading his son’s memoir”

Architect Raymond Moriyama on Internment

Mark Sakamoto on YouTube

A Globe and Mail article by Mark Sakamoto

Monday Evening Book Club November Selection

Boat peopleThe Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, November 12 in the second floor Training Room to discuss The Boat People, a novel by Sharon Bala.

About the book …

The Boat People is an extraordinary novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage only to face the threat of deportation amid accusations of terrorism. When a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war reaches Vancouver’s shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the “boat people” are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks–and that these terrorists now pose a threat to Canada’s national security. As the refugees become subject to heavy interrogation, Mahindan begins to fear that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son’s chance for asylum. Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis”–Provided by publisher.

Author website

Sharon Bala and Canada Reads 2018

An Interview with Sharon Bala

Sharon Bala on YouTube

Discussion Questions

Book review in The Tyee

Kirkus book review

MV Sun Sea incident (2010)

The Guardian article (2010)

The Tyee Opinion article (2010)

National Post article (2017) 

Ocean Lady Incident article

MV Sun Sea on YouTube

Komagata Maru indident (1914)

Komagata Maru on YouTube

 

 

Monday Evening Book Club October Selection

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The Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, October 22 in the second floor Training Room to discuss My Brilliant Friend, a novel by Elena Ferrante.

About the book

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. (Publisher)

About the author

Ferrante is the pseudonymous author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of AbandonmentTroubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With My Brilliant Friend – the first of four Neopolitan novels – she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction. The other three novels in the Neopolitan series are The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.

Based on published interviews, Ferrante claims to have been born in 1943 in Naples, Italy.

Seniors Book Club October Selection

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The Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, October 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss Of This Earth: A Mennonite Forest in the Boreal Forest, a memoir by Rudy Wiebe.

About the book

In Of This Earth, Rudy Wiebe gives vivid life again to the vanished world of Speedwell, Saskatchewan, an isolated, poplar-forested, mostly Mennonite community – and Rudy’s first home. Too young to do heavy work, Rudy witnessed a way of life that was soon to disappear. And we experience with him the hard labour of clearing the stony, silty bushland; the digging out of precious wells one bucket of dirt at a time; sorrow at the death of a beloved sister; the disorienting searches for grazing cattle in the vast wilderness sloughs and the sweet discovery of the power of reading.

Rare personal photographs (reproduced throughout the book) and the fragile memories of those who are left give shape to the story of Mennonite immigrants building a life in Canada, the growth and decline of the small Speedwell community, the sway of religion, and a young boy’s growing love of the extreme beauty of the aspen forests – as well as how all these elements came to inform his destiny as a writer. (Publisher)

About Rudy Wiebe (Publisher)

Where the truth lies: Author Rudy Wiebe on what’s important (Edmonton Journal)

Why Rudy Wiebe will never write a funny novel (Q&A on CBC)

A history of Russian Mennonite immigration to Canada 

Mennonites and their beliefs

Seniors Book Club September Selection

Last NeanderthalThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, September 12 in the second floor Training Room to discuss The Last Neanderthal, a novel by Claire Cameron.

About the book…

40,000 years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. After a crushingly hard winter, their numbers are low, but Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the annual meeting place and find her a mate. But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling of unknown origin. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter storms, Girl realizes she has one final chance to save her people, even if it means sacrificing part of herself. In the modern day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby comes. Linked across the ages by the shared experience of early motherhood, both stories examine the often taboo corners of women’s lives. Haunting, suspenseful, and profoundly moving, THE LAST NEANDERTHAL asks us to reconsider all we think we know about what it means to be human.

Claire Cameron’s website

Author biography

Claire Cameron “On Writing”

Claire Cameron’s essay: Neanderthals were women, too.

Reading Group Guide (includes discussion questions)

A Quill & Quire book review

A National Post book review

The Next Chapter interview with Claire Cameron

Interviews on Youtube

Neanderthal article in Wikipedia

Neanderthals 101 / National Geographic video

National Post article about Neanderthal research

About Neanderthal/human interbreeding