The International Book Club discusses cultures and peoples from around the world through the medium of books. Join group leader Sarah Shaw to read fascinating books about our world, and hear speakers from all over the globe.
Follow three generations of a family from Guangzhou as they navigate Mao’s China for a few months in 1958. Each family member is tormented by their own secrets and the tension builds throughout the novel as they are revealed to you. In “A Hundred Flowers,” Gail Tsukiyama captures visions of the oppression and fear created by the Cultural Revolution as experienced by a little boy, his mother and his paternal grandfather as they all try to make sense of life in the absence of their father, husband and son.
On February 20 we will be discussing A Girl Made of Dust by Natalie Abi-Ezzi. This novel is set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict.
While living in Herat, Afghanistan during two separate years in the mid-seventies, British author Veronica Doubleday befriends three women from different hereditary classes. Through her developing relationships, readers will gain an understanding of what it meant to be a woman in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion adn the rule of the Taliban. Doubleday's ability to speak Persian, as well as willingness to embrace their culture and traditions, give her access to Herati family life rarely seen by westerners. This is a beautifully written account of the lives of Afghani women and provides layers of insight for a country so frequently misunderstood today. Anyone seeking impartial information about a culture rich in traditions and arts will find Three Women of Herat invaluable in providing a framework for understanding women in Afghanistan.
Blending cultures, religions, and time periods, In A Strange Land: History in a Guise of a Traveler's Tale defies definition. An earlier work by popular Indian author Amitav Ghosh, he writes in his own voice using the time he spent as a student in Egypt to inform his tale. The story centers on his search for clues about a slave to a Jewish merchant mentioned in a 12th century letter discovered in the Cairo Geniza. Originally from Tunisia, the merchant travels to India, by way of Egypt, and lives there for a couple decades before mysteriously and suddenly returning to Africa. Through Ghosh's quest, you also learn about contemporary rural Egypt at the same time as you do about merchants and trade between Europe, Africa and India in the 12th century. It will leave you wondering where reality ends and the story begins.
Reading Blood river: a journey to Africa's broken heart is a tense and thrilling adventure that will leave you with a better understanding of this forgotten country in central Africa. Author Tim Butcher strives to recreate explorer Henry Morton Stanley's nineteenth century route along the Congo River from Lake Tanganyika to the Atlantic Ocean which cuts through two-thirds of the African continent. Along the journey you discover how the Congo is the only place in the world where technological advancements go backwards and grandparents can tell their grandchildren about inventions they can't even dream of. The Congo has so many resources and a people desperate for peace yet so many obstacles stacked against their success. You also learn about the efforts of the United Nations and other aid organizations and why so little is being done to help the people faced with massive institutionalized corruption. Butcher's book shines a spotlight on a country the world seems to have given up on and a people just hoping for a fair chance.
The East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) will host author and East Lansing native Stephanie Burgis on Wednesday, July 30 from 2-3:30 p.m. for a special summer Books & Bagels event. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Burgis, discuss her Kat, Incorrigible trilogy and hear how she decided to become a writer. Although the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy is geared toward readers in the 9- to 13-year-old age range, all ages are welcome to meet Burgis and enjoy bagels donated by the Panera in Frandor.
Burgis grew up in East Lansing, but currently lives in Wales with her husband and their children. Before becoming a full-time writer, she studied music as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria and worked as a website editor for a British opera company. “Growing up in East Lansing as a book-crazy kid and wannabe writer, I spent as much time in the public library as I could,” Burgis said. “It was one of the most important and beloved places in my childhood. It’s still a touchstone place for me even now, when I live in a different country, because almost all the books and genres that have most influenced me as a writer were first discovered by browsing the shelves there, with the warm encouragement of the wonderful librarians.”