CRPCA’s Book Club gatherings are open to all who have read that month’s book. Typically we start out discussing the book, and inevitably someone relates a theme in the book to their own experiences or other readings, so the conversation takes an interesting turn. Our Book Club discusses books of broad interest set in parts of the world in which Peace Corps Volunteers have served, or books which were authored by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). We discuss fiction and nonfiction works by authors from around the world, and we love author appearances! Between 2010 and 2016, we hosted 24 different authors – in person, by phone, or via Skype.
Here are our next three book discussions:
Van Beek, Steve*: Slithering South (2002)
* RPCV Nepal 1966-1969
Discussion: Saturday, May 6, 2017, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. On-street parking in downtown Portland is free beginning at 7:00 pm. Upon arrival, call 503-780-2722 to be buzzed in, then turn right into the building’s lobby and then take an immediate left into the community room. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Steve Van Beek, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: A wild, often hilarious, ride down Thailand’s longest river. A tiny teak boat set in the Ping River deep in the Golden Triangle takes the author on a 58-day voyage of discovery through Thailand’s heart. Along the way, he meets Sin the Buffalo Man, the Cowboys of Tha Sala, Jamrat and the “Boom Boom Girl”, and dozens of other intriguing characters. One dark night, poachers prey on him; on another, he is a murder suspect, as he learns far more about rural Thailand – and himself – than he bargained for.
Where to find it:
From the author: Steve Van Beek, in Thailand through 4/28, has obtained more copies of this book, which was published in Thailand. His spouse Piyawee Ruenjinda, currently at their home in Beaverton, is selling the book for $20 to folks willing to come to their home. Please call 971-347-7285 today if you’re interested in one of these copies.
Rushdie, Salman: Midnight’s Children* (1980)
* 1981 Man Booker Prize, 2008 Best of the Bookers
Discussion: Monday, June 5, 2017, 5:30-7:00 pm. Location at the home of Bill Stein, 4308 SE Lexington St in Portland, 503-830-0817. Note the earlier than usual time! This gathering will be a potluck dinner; please bring a dish to share.
Film to follow! In 2012 this 506 page book was turned into a 148 minute movie. After our discussion, all are welcome to stay to view the film, which will end at 9:30 p.m.
Teaser: Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.
Gyasi, Yaa: Homegoing (2016)
Discussion: Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Alanna Miel, 3821 NE 7th Ave in Portland, 202-468-4707. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Review: © School Library Journal: This sweeping family saga encompasses seven generations of descendants of a Fante and his captured Asante house slave. After giving birth to a daughter, Maame manages to escape, making her way alone back to her own village. She is taken in by an Asante warrior, becomes his third wife, and has a second daughter by him. The two sisters, Effia and Esi, will never meet, their lives will follow very different paths, but their descendants will share a legacy of warfare and slavery. Effia will marry an Englishman who oversees the British interest in the Gold Coast slave trade. Esi will be captured by Fante warriors, traded to the Englishmen, and shipped to America to be sold into slavery. Progressing through 300 years of Ghanaian and American history, the narrative unfolds in a series of concise portraits of each sister’s progeny that capture pivotal moments in each individual’s life. Every portrait reads like a short story unto itself, making this volume a good choice for harried teens, yet Gyasi imbues the work with a remarkably seamless feel. Through the combined historical perspectives of each descendant, the author reveals that racism is often rooted in tribalism, greed, and the lust for power. Many students will be surprised to discover that the enslavement of Africans was not just a white man’s crime.
Most of our books are selected by an annual survey; the last one was conducted in November 2016. We schedule additional books when an author offers to meet with us. If you are interested in learning more about CRPCA’s Book Club, please contact Bill Stein, at 503-830-0817 or bookclub AT crpca.org.