September 2020 Book Club Selection

Disoriental
Djavadi, Négar: Disoriental (2018)

Discussion: Thursday, September 10, 2020, 6:30-8:00 pm. Online meeting via Zoom; e-mail bookclub AT crpca.org for the login information.

Review: © Booklist: We meet Kimiâ in a fertility-clinic office. She is alone, waiting with a tube of sperm, for the chance to become a mother. She has already lied to the fertility-clinic staff about her intentions to marry the man whose sperm she carries, but the reason for her deception is not immediately clear. What is obvious from the beginning of this riveting novel is that Djavadi is an immensely gifted storyteller, and Kimiâ’s tale is especially compelling. The winner of multiple awards in France, this debut novel in translation follows the fortunes of one Iranian family from the dawn of the twentieth century through the revolution and their Parisian exile. The youngest of three daughters, Kimiâ was still a child when her family fled Iran, crossing the Turkish border under cover of night. Her father, a journalist and political dissident who played a role in the start of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, fought the extremist regime with a passion that culminated in a tragedy the family can only refer to as THE EVENT. But the roots of their story go back much further, to her great-grandfather and the harem of wives he kept on his land near the Caspian Sea. Kimiâ unthreads the narratives of her family history, and the shaping of her own identity, with the insight and verve of a master storyteller.

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

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