August 2019 Book Club Selection

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Roy, Arundhati: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017)

Discussion: Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Mimi Sanders, 318 SW Palatine Hill Rd (big yellow church) in Portland, 503-293-6195. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: Appearing two decades after 1997’s celebrated The God of Small Things, Roy’s ambitious, original, and haunting second novel fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of front-page headlines. Anjum, one of its two protagonists, is born intersex and raised as a male. Embracing her identity as a woman, she moves from her childhood home in Delhi to the nearby House of Dreams, where hijra like herself live together, and then to a cemetery when that home too fails her. The dwelling she cobbles together on her family’s graves becomes a paradoxically life-affirming enclave for the wounded, outcast, and odd. The other protagonist, the woman who calls herself S. Tilottama, fascinates three very different men but loves only one, the elusive Kashmiri activist Musa Yeswi. When an abandoned infant girl appears mysteriously amid urban litter and both Anjum and Tilo have reasons to try to claim her, all their lives converge. Shifting fluidly between moods and time frames, Roy juxtaposes first-person and omniscient narration with “found” documents to weave her characters’ stories with India’s social and political tensions, particularly the violent retaliations to Kashmir’s long fight for self-rule. Sweeping, intricate, and sometimes densely topical, the novel can be a challenging read. Yet its complexity feels essential to Roy’s vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

June 2017 Book Club Selection

Midnight's Children
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.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

July 2016 Book Club Selection

Full Tilt
Murphy, Dervla: Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle (1965)

Discussion: Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Jackie Spurlock, 4101 SW Hillsdale Ave in Portland, 503-827-4126. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: Here is the first American appearance of a book by Irish travel writer Murphy. Originally published in 1965, it is the diary of her bicycle trek from Dunkirk, across Europe, through Iran and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and India. Murphy’s immediate rapport with the people she alights among is vibrant and appealing and makes her travelogue unique. Venturing alone, accompanied only by her bicycle, which she dubs Rozthe indomitable Murphy not only survives daunting physical rigors but gleans considerable enjoyment in getting to know peoples who were then even more remote than they are now.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble