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

 

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club May Selection

417ltjtvpnl-_sy445_ql70_The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 on Wednesday, May 10 in the Children’s Open Corner to discuss Twopence to Cross the Mersey, a memoir by Helen Forrester.

About the book …

When Helen Forester’s father went bankrupt in 1930 she and her six siblings were forced from comfortable middle-class life in southern England to utmost poverty in the Depression-ridden North. Her parents more or less collapsed under the strain, father spending hours in search of non-existent work, or in the dole queue, mother on the verge of a breakdown and striving to find and keep part-time jobs. The running of the household, in slum surroundings and with little food, the care of the younger children, all fell on twelve-year-old Helen. Unable to attend school, Helen’s fear that she was to be trapped forever as drudge and housekeeper caused her to despair at times. But she was determined to have a chance and struggled, despite her parents, to gain an education. (from the Publisher)

About the author …

Helen Forrester was born in Hoylake, Cheshire, the eldest of seven children. For many years, until she married, her home was Liverpool, a city that features prominently in her work.

Throughout her teenage years, Forrester worked for a charitable organisation in Liverpool, which provided background for her novels Liverpool Daisy, A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin, and Three Women of Liverpool. After surviving the Blitzing of Liverpool and losing two consecutive fiancés to the Second World War she met and, in 1950, married Dr. Avadh Bhatia; her life with him in India provided background for Thursday’s Child and The Moneylenders of Shahpur. The couple travelled widely, eventually settling in Edmonton, in 1955, where Dr. Bhatia became the director of the Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Alberta.

The best-selling memoir of her childhood was Twopence to Cross the Mersey. It was later turned into a successful musical. Living in Alberta provided background for Forrester’s novels The Latchkey Kid and The Lemon Tree.  She died on 24 November 2011 in Edmonton, aged 92.

In 2017, the author’s son, Robert Bhatia, published Passage Across the Mersey, the story of his remarkable mother and the personal journey that took her India and ultimately to Alberta.

Books in the Series

Twopence to Cross the Mersey (1974)

Liverpool Miss (originally published as Minerva’s Stepchild) (1979)

By the Waters of Liverpool (1981)

Lime Street at Two (1985)

Passage Across the Mersey (Published by Robert Bhatia in 2017)

10 things I admire about my mother, Helen Forrester

Helen Forrester obituary in The Guardian 

Helen Forrester obituary in The Telegraph

How true love led Helen Forrester to leave Mersey for Indian exile

Photos of Liverpool in the 1930’s

 

Seniors Book Club April Selection

Our Souls at nightThe Seniors Book Club will meet in the 2nd floor Training Room on Wednesday, April 12 to discuss Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

About the book …

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters.
Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.
Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature. (From the publisher.)

About the author …

Alan Kent Haruf was an American novelist and author of six novels, all set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

Life
Haruf was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the son of a Methodist minister. He graduated with a BA from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965, where he would later teach, and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973.
Before becoming a writer, Haruf worked in a variety of places, including a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, a hospital in Phoenix, a presidential library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, as an English teacher with the Peace Corps in Turkey, and colleges in Nebraska and Illinois.
He lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado until his death in 2014. He had three daughters from his first marriage.

Works
All of Haruf’s novels take place in the fictional town of Holt, in eastern Colorado, a town based on Yuma, Colorado, one of Haruf’s residences in the early 1980s. His first novel, The Tie That Binds (1984), received a Whiting Award and a special Hemingway Foundation/PEN citation. Where You Once Belonged followed in 1990. A number of his short stories have appeared in literary magazines.

Plainsong was published in 1999 and became a U.S. bestseller. The New York Times‘ Verlyn Klinkenborg called it “a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader.” Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Eventide, a sequel to Plainsong, was published in 2004. Library Journal described the writing as “honest storytelling that is compelling and rings true.” Jonathan Miles saw it as a “repeat performance” and “too goodhearted.”

On November 30, 2014, at the age of 71, Kent Haruf died at his home in Salida, Colorado, of interstitial lung disease.

Our Souls at Night, his final work, was published posthumously in 2015 and received wide praise. Ron Charles of the Washington Post called it “a tender, carefully polished work that it seems like a blessing we had no right to expect.”

Recognition
1986 – Whiting Award for fiction
1999 – Finalist for the 1999 National Book Award for Plainsong
2005 – Colorado Book Award for Eventide
2005 – Finalist for the Book Sense Award for Eventide
2009 – Dos Passos Prize for Literature
2012 – Wallace Stegner Award
2014 – Folio Prize shortlist for Benediction

Kent Haruf : the complete final interview

A Wall Street Journal interview about the book (video)

Our Souls at Night discussion questions

A NY Times book review

A Guardian book review

A Los Angeles Times obituary

A UK Telegraph obituary

A Q&A with the book’s editor

Our Souls at Night movie

 

Seniors Book Club March Selection

weynfeldtThe Seniors Book Club will meet in Forsyth Hall on March 8 at 2 pm. This month we’re discussing The Last Weynfeldt by Martin Suter.

About the book

Adrian Weynfeldt is an art expert in an international auction house, a bachelor in his mid-fifties living in a grand Zurich apartment filled with costly paintings and antiques. Always correct and well-mannered, he’s given up on love until one night—entirely out of character for him—Weynfeldt decides to take home a ravishing but unaccountable young woman. The next morning, he finds her outside on his balcony threatening to jump. Weynfeldt talks her down and soon finds himself falling for this damaged but alluring beauty and his buttoned up existence comes unraveled. As their two lives become entangled, Weynfeldt gets embroiled in an art forgery scheme that threatens to destroy everything he and his prominent family have stood for. This refined page-turner moves behind elegant bourgeois facades into darker recesses of the heart. (Publisher)

Martin Suter, born in Zurich in 1948, is a novelist and screenwriter. He has written a dozen novels, many of them bestsellers in Europe and translated into thirty-two languages. Suter lives with his family in Zurich.

Review of The Last Weynfeldt (Gert Loveday’s Fun With Books)

Wikipedia article on Felix Vallotton

Eight of the Biggest Art Forgeries of All Time (Business Insider)

Interview with an art forger (YouTube)

Video of an art auction (Macleans)

 

Seniors Book Club February Selection

dictionary-of-mutual-understandingThe Seniors Book Club will meet in the 2nd floor “Aquarium” meeting room on February 8 at 2 pm. This month we’re discussing A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton.

About the book

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

About Jackie Copleton

Living in Nagasaki

A Richard and Judy Interview

A Youtube version of the interview

A Reading Guide

Reviews

The bombing of Nagasaki

After the A-bomb: then and now (photographs)

NY Times article about Obama visit to Hiroshima