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

Seniors Book Club October Selection

of this earth1

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

Seniors Book Club June Selection

Women in the castleThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Thursday, June 14 (date change!) in the Training Room to discuss The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck.

About the book …

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined–an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding. Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war–each with their own unique share of challenges. (Publisher)

About the author …

Jessica Shattuck lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, MA.

Her fiction has appeared in The New YorkerGlamourOpen City, and The Tampa Review among other publications.

Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York TimesMother JonesWiredThe Believer Magazine, and The Boston Globe.

Her novel, The Women in the Castle is a New York Times Bestseller, and The Hazards of Good Breeding was 
a New York Times Notable Book, a Boston Globe best book of the year, and a finalist for the 2003 PEN/Winship Award. (author website)

Author website

An Indie Next Q&A with Jessica Shattuck

An NPR interview with Jessica Shattuck

An audio interview with the author

The Book on Youtube

Publisher’s Reading Guide

A New York Journal of Books review

A Washington Independent Review of Books review

A Huffington Post article by Jessica Shattuck “On the Anniversary of Kristallnacht”

The July 20, 1944, Plot to Assassinate Adolf Hitler

German Resistance to Hitler

Seniors Book Club May Selection

hero's walkThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, May 9 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss  The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami.

About the book...

After the release of Anita Rau Badami’s critically acclaimed first novel, Tamarind Mem, it was evident a promising new talent had joined the Canadian literary community. Her dazzling literary follow-up is The Hero’s Walk, a novel teeming with the author’s trademark tumble of the haphazard beauty, wreckage and folly of ordinary lives. Set in the dusty seaside town of Toturpuram on the Bay of Bengal, The Hero’s Walk traces the terrain of family and forgiveness through the lives of an exuberant cast of characters bewildered by the rapid pace of change in today’s India. Each member of the Rao family pits his or her chance at personal fulfillment against the conventions of a crumbling caste and class system.

Anita Rau Badami explains that “The Hero’s Walk is a novel about so many things: loss, disappointment, choices and the importance of coming to terms with yourself and the circumstances of your life without losing the dignity embedded in all of us. At one level it is about heroism – not the hero of the classic epic, those enormous god-sized heroes – but my fascination with the day-to-day heroes and the heroism that’s needed to survive all the unexpected disasters and pitfalls of life.” (Publisher)

Anita Rau Badami: How I wrote The Hero’s Walk (CBC)

Anita Rau Badami on culture shock and the transformation of India (CBC)

Anita Rau Badami on talking to Oscar Wilde…and her houseplants

Book review in Quill and Quire

Book review in the Independent

An interview with Anita Rau Badami in January Magazine