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 2017, we hosted 27 different authors – in person, by phone, or via Skype.
Here are our next three book discussions:
Byron, Robert: The Road to Oxiana (1937/2007)
Discussion: Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 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. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: The Road to Oxiana is a travelogue by Robert Byron, first published in 1937. It is considered by many modern travel writers to be the first example of great travel writing. The word “Oxiana” in the title refers to the region along Afghanistan’s northern border. The book is an account of Byron’s ten-month journey to the Middle East in 1933–34, initially in the company of Christopher Sykes. It is in the form of a diary with the first entry “Venice, 20 August 1933” after which Byron travelled by ship to the island of Cyprus and then on to the then countries of Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Persia and Afghanistan. The journey ended in Peshawar, India (now part of Pakistan) on 19 June 1934, from where he returned to England.
Benson, Adrienne*: The Brightest Sun (2018)
* RPCV Nepal (1992-1994)
Discussion: Thursday, May 17, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Adrienne Benson, the book’s author. 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. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: Leona, an isolated American anthropologist, births a baby girl in a remote Maasai village and must decide how she can be a mother, in spite of her own grim childhood. Jane, a lonely expat wife, follows her husband to the tropics and learns just how fragile life is. Simi, a barren Maasai woman, must confront her infertility in a society in which females are valued by their reproductive roles. In this affecting debut novel, three very different women grapple with motherhood, recalibrate their identities, and confront unforeseen tragedies and triumphs. In beautiful, evocative prose, Adrienne Benson brings to life the striking Kenyan terrain as these women’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways. As they face their own challenges and heartbreaks, they find strength traversing the arid landscapes of tenuous human connection. With gripping poignancy, The Brightest Sun explores the heartbreak of loss, the struggle to find a sense of belonging, and the surprising ways we find our family and home.
Lessing, Doris*: The Grass is Singing (1950)
* 2007 Nobel Literature Prize
Discussion: Monday, June 4, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Peggy McClure, 5450 SW 18th Dr in Portland, 503-453-2089. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: Set in Southern Rhodesia under white rule, Doris Lessing’s first novel is at once a riveting chronicle of human disintegration, a beautifully understated social critique, and a brilliant depiction of the quiet horror of one woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate. Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm works its slow poison. Mary’s despair progresses until the fateful arrival of Moses, an enigmatic, virile black servant. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses–master and slave–are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion, until their psychic tension explodes with devastating consequences.
Most of our books are selected by an annual survey; the next one will be conducted in spring 2018. 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.