International Book Club

Exploring other cultures through literature

WELCOME

The International House Book Club reads novels by international authors with international settings and/or international themes. The Club meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. (virtually) for about two hours (there are no meetings in July, August and December). Through facilitated discussion, we share a love of reading and learn about diverse cultures. Our only requirement is that you read the book beforehand. You do not need to register for the club or RSVP for a meeting.
Questions? Contact us at swilliams@ihclt.org.

International House Book Club members receive a 20% discount at Park Road Books.

Note: The November Book Club will meet earlier at 630p for a meet & greet. If in person you are welcome to bring a small appetizer if you can (not required).

2021 International Book Club Selections

JANUARY 18 - The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
Ethiopia Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and named a best book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, Elle, Time, and more, “The Shadow King” is set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. This novel is a gorgeous meditation on memory, war, and violence, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.

This is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We still host the monthly book club.
Join the zoom meeting here
FEBRUARY 15 - In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Australia  Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.
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MARCH 15 - Milkman by Anna Burns
Ireland Set during The Troubles, Milkman follows an 18-year-old girl who is harassed by an older married man called the Milkman. Winner of the 2018 Man Booker prize.
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APRIL 19 - Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
India In this breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of uncompromising reporting, carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget. WINNER OF: The PEN Nonfiction Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award.
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MAY 17 - Do Not Say We Have Nothing
China Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations—those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.
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JUNE 21 - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Nigeria Considered a masterpiece, Things Fall Apart (1958), Chinua Achebe’s debut novel, “is the most widely read book in modern African literature.” (Wikipedia) . The book shows the inevitable clash between traditional tribal society and colonial rule in Nigeria during the late 19th century. Things Fall Apart is simple, honest, unbiased story-telling, which has the power to give us greater understanding and insight into today’s world of cultural division and hate. Achebe won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and died in 2013. Often called the “Father of African Literature”, Achebe nonetheless made a conscious choice to write in English, which some saw as a betrayal. However, he adapted the language to his purposes, which were hardly pro-West. This makes reading Achebe an adventure for English readers and an inspiration for many young African writers, most notably Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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SEPTEMBER 20 - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Japan Kafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle—yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.
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OCTOBER 18 - The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien
Ireland 1960 “Country Girls” is Edna O”Brien’s first novel.Two young Irish women Caithlene “Cate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan have been friends through childhood. After getting expelled from their convent school, they move together to the big city of Dublin in search of life and adventure. Cait, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba wants to explore the life of a single woman. They struggle to maintain their friendship as their lives take unexpected turns. This beautiful and bawdy book is often credited with breaking the silence on sexual matters and repressive social norms of postwar Ireland. On its publication the priest in O'Brien's home parish held a public book burning calling it “a smear on Irish womanhood. ” In 1966 it was banned in Ireland by the Irish Censorship of Publications Board. In 2019 BBC included “The Country Girls” in its list of 100 most influential novels of the 20th century. “Country Girls” makes for exquisitely agonized reading. It is no longer banned in Ireland.
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NOVEMBER 15 - The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
Laos Dr. Siri Paboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the Communist takeover, has been drafted to be a national coroner. He is untrained for the job, but this independent 72-year-old has an outstanding qualification for it: curiosity. And he doesn't mind incurring the wrath of the Party hierarchy as he unravels mysterious murders, because the spirits of the dead are on his side. This book is the first in the series.
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