April 2020 Book Club Selection

The Ungrateful Refugee
Nayeri, Dina: The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You (2019)

Discussion: Thursday, April 9, 2020, 10:00-11:30 am. Online meeting via Zoom; e-mail bookclub AT crpca.org for the login information. Participating in our discussion will be Dina Nayeri, the book’s author!

Review: © Booklist: This book’s combination of personal narrative and collective refugee story is compelling, necessary, and deeply thought and felt. Writing with truth and beauty, Nayeri (Refuge, 2017) reckons with her own past as a refugee, having left Iran at age eight with her mother and brother to eventually settle in Oklahoma. As an adult she has a daughter and does not want to pass down a legacy of identity confusion and a compulsion to move every few years. Throughout her escape, migration, and assimilation, Nayeri understood the importance of telling a story (even if only partially true) that casts her as an intensely desperate person welling with gratitude to be in a better place. Trouble would follow if she judged Iranian pastry superior to the bright blue American slushy, or if she admitted that Iranian school was more rigorous while waiting for her American peers to catch up in math. As part of her inquiry, Nayeri visits a refugee camp in Greece and talks to families still enduring years-long limbo. Folks live in Isobox containers, shop at a store with points in lieu of money, and approximate dishes from home to feel grounded. This valuable account of refugee lives will grip readers’ attention.

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

January 2018 Book Club Selection

Walled In, Walled Out
Marks, Mary Dana*: Walled In, Walled Out: A Young American Woman in Iran (2017)

* RPCV Iran (1964-1966)

Discussion: Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Jackie and Mike Spurlock, 4101 SW Hillsdale Ave in Portland, 503-827-4126. Participating in our discussion will be Mary Dana Marks, the book’s author, via Skype. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: When Mary joins the Peace Corps the shah reigns in Iran and John F. Kennedy has left his mark on the world. Sent to Kerman, a conservative city on the Iranian plateau, she teaches English to high school girls. In the classroom, or walking through the bazaar amid turbaned Baluchi tribesmen and chanting Sufi dervishes, she is the exotic one. The adobe walls that seclude women exclude her, a bareheaded foreigner. Woven throughout are dusty travels from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea, colorful feasts, rich history and hidden romance. Walled In, Walled Out recounts her convoluted, often humorous journey from ignorance to understanding in a country where the people speak with many voices.

Where to find it:
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