Works of historical fiction make great book club picks. Along with any themes the plot might offer up for discussion, the time period and historical context provide ample topics for examination. Our next One Read nomination is such a novel: “Telex From Cuba” by Rachel Kushner.
Our nominator writes, “Kushner’s first book is incredibly well-researched and brings to life mid-century Cuba in rich illuminating detail. Her depiction of the revolution and all of the people caught in its cross-hairs would inspire meaty discussions about so many -isms: imperialism, capitalism, racism, idealism. Yet this fact-packed novel is so compellingly told through the points of view of her indelible characters that you forget you’re getting a vivid history lesson until after you close the book. Moving without being sentimental and full of gorgeous prose and hard questions, this book would be an excellent One Read choice.”
We collected nominations for next year’s One Read book throughout November, and this month we are highlighting some of the titles your friends and neighbors suggested. We received one of our most heartfelt nominations for Camron Wright’s “The Rent Collector,” a novel set in Cambodia’s biggest municipal dump.
“This is the best book I have read all year!” begins our nominator. ”I have recommended this book to everyone I know. The setting: an enormous garbage dump in Cambodia. The people who actually live there and try to eke out a living from picking through the trash are real. The story itself is fictionalized. It is a gripping read that pulls you in to this unthinkable environment and makes you ponder many questions including hope, healing and redemption. As ‘the rent collector’ teaches Sang Ly to read, we are asked to give thought to what measures up enough to be called literature. I think that is an important topic to probe as well.”
Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2014 One Read book! Nominations are now closed, but we will continue highlighting some of the suggested titles here throughout the month of December.
One area reader highly recommends Louise Erdrich’s “The Round House.” Our nominator states, “It’s a compelling story exploring issues that haven’t yet been discussed with previous One Read selections – Native American sovereignty law and history. It’s also a coming of age story and delves into family relationships and the nature of good and evil.” Written in the voice fourteen-year-old Joe Coutz, living on a reservation in North Dakota, this novel follows the teenager’s attempt to discover who brutally attacked his mother, a horrific event that plunges her into a deep depression and threatens to destroy his family.
See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2014.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2014 One Read book! Nominations are now closed, but we will continue highlighting some of the suggested titles here at oneread.dbrl.org throughout the month of December. In January, our reading panel will meet to discuss all of the nominations and begin the process of narrowing down the list of finalists for a public vote in April.
Read about the nominated books we’ve highlighted so far.
The Daniel Boone Regional Library is accepting nominations for the 2014 One Read book through November 30. A local reader suggests that the community would enjoy discussing “My Beloved World” by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Our nominator explains, “She grew up poor and overcame many difficulties in her life. I recently read the book and not only enjoyed it but also was so inspired by her life story that I want to share it with friends and family. It’s a wonderful book and an American story.”
It seems readers in Oregon would agree. The Multnomah County Public Library has selected “My Beloved World” for its 2014 reading program, Everybody Reads. They describe Sotomayor’s biography as “a story of love, self-discovery and human triumph. Despite having only television characters for professional role models when she was a child, Sotomayor resolved to become a lawyer. That dream took her from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice and appointment to the Federal District Court by the age of 40.”
Have a suggestion of your own? Let us know what you think our community should read in 2014 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile or online at oneread.org.
All month we have been receiving your suggestions for our 2014 One Read title, and we’ll be highlighting some of these books here at oneread.org so you can see what other community members are reading and enjoying. All of these titles will be considered by our reading panel as they begin narrowing the list of suggestions in January.
First up is “The Maid’s Version” by Missouri author Daniel Woodrell. Set in the fictional West Table, Missouri, this novel tells the story of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations. Our nominator writes, “Aside from being well written by a Missouri-based author, the novel really puts the reader in the ‘rural Midwest,’ with each short chapter provoking thoughts of class divisions, economy, historic railroad towns, immigration, the effects of poverty and much more, while still keeping me engaged in solving the mystery of a devastating small town accident. It is also a short read, which means more individuals can read it, tell their neighbors to read it and be ready for the fun-filled month of events!”
There are just a few days remaining to send us your suggestions! Let us know what you think our community should read in 2014 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile, or online at oneread.org by November 30.
Why would this be a good choice for a community-wide read?
Thank you for your suggestion!
“The Ruins of Us” is a fast-paced work of contemporary fiction that explores the terrain of family relationships complicated by cultural conflict.
After more than 20 years of marriage to wealthy Saudi Abdullah al-Baylani, Rosalie, an American expatriate, discovers that her husband has taken a Palestinian second wife, which makes her contemplate escaping both the marriage and the country she has grown to love. Leaving will not be easy, however, given the country’s restrictions on women and the needs of her teenage children – a headstrong daughter becoming increasingly westernized and a son succumbing to radicalism.
The book’s publisher describes “The Ruins of Us” as “a timely story about intolerance, family and the injustices we endure for love.”About the Author
Keija Parssinen was born in Saudi Arabia and lived there for 12 years as a third-generation expatriate. She earned a degree in English literature from Princeton University and received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. “The Ruins of Us” is her first novel. Parssinen lives in Columbia, Missouri, where she is the Director of the Quarry Heights Writers’ Workshop, a community for Columbia’s creative writers.
- Author’s Website
- Publisher’s Page
- Publisher’s Reading Group Guide
- The Guardian Review
- Publisher’s Weekly Review
- Author Interview With The Missouri Review
The post 2013 One Read Winner: About “The Ruins of Us” and Keija Parssinen appeared first on One READ.
Our sincere thanks to all of you who read or listened to “The Ruins of Us” by Keija Parssinen and joined us for one of this year’s outstanding One Read events. What an exceptional year and a great opportunity to celebrate our local writing community. We capped off the month with Parssinen delivering her keynote address in both Columbia and Fulton. She generously shared details of her own development as a writer, her dedication to writing in service to complex characters and as a process of exploring and answering difficult questions.
Parssinen said, “It is my belief that the only way to combat ignorance is to talk to one another, to have a conversation. In this way, the One Read program is exceptionally important. It gives us as a community the time and space to engage in civil dialogue with our neighbors.”
Our sincere thanks to you for being a part of the important dialogue sparked by “The Ruins of Us.”
As part of this year’s One Read program and inspired by the themes of displacement, disconnection and longing for the feeling of home in “The Ruins of Us,” we challenged writers to craft a tale that somehow explores this idea of being an outsider. We received stories of cliques and exclusion, moving to an unfamiliar city, the immigrant experience, or of returning to a home that is no longer home–all told in no more than 250 words. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the worlds of your imagination with us. Our two winners are Josh Ray and Chinwe Ndubuka. Writers Melody Hapner and Nidhi Khosla receive honorable mentions.
We invite all participants to come to our Flash Fiction Reading and Reception on Monday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m. in the Columbia Independent School Cafetorium (1801 N. Stadium Blvd).
We are pleased to share with you the winning stories.Local Blueberries by Josh Ray
He had late night brake light laser streaks zooming on his overworked corneas as he sizzled 85 miles per hour down backcountry salt flat desert America, fingering through a basket of blueberries grown locally at the last town a thousand miles long passed in the rearview mirror. An early Tom Waits tune popped up on the radio with mysterious clairvoyance. And just like that he was transported back to California, back to San Francisco whereto he had taken an inspired joyride earlier this summer with the puerile hopes of discovering something personally and profoundly inner about himself, and wherein he learned a lot about what disenchantment really feels like. And in all this hyper, jazz-hip, drug-scrounging, poor busker, two a.m. highway-jism of infinite lonely soliloquizing, the only definite thing he learned, returning now to something after having never really escaped, being, in so many words, “I Yam what I Yam.”Week Two and Counting by Chinwe Ndubuka
It’s January and I’m cold. Two weeks ago, when I bid my family farewell at a Nigerian airport before heading to an American university, I was hot and teary-eyed. Here I’ve found I don’t need my many handkerchiefs to wipe sweat or dust surfaces. I interact more with my thermostat. A few days ago, I thought my walls were transmitting electricity, shocking me when I touched them. In this country where the power rarely goes out, the realization was frightful. But it was embarrassment I felt when a police officer—yes I dialed 9-1-1—explained the static commonly caused by dry winter air. For now, I adjust the dial in my apartment by three degrees and two degrees more before the heater hums to life, sending warm air through the vents. Appeased, I consider studying, but my attention rests on the five-level parking garage opposite my window. It’s barely six o’clock and darkness has already descended, but cars circle under bright lights in their own concrete community. Muffled voices pass outside my door. I am alone and lonely. With seven hours between us, it’s too late to call home; to speak to a lively voice that knows mine and carries with it a warmth not measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit. My family is sleeping soundly with open windows. I’m thankful that morning will be here before spring and pray for strength to last the night.The Homecoming by Nidhi Khosla (honorable mention)
Soon she would be home and surrounded by the cacophony that is the result when otherwise quiet relatives get together. There would be home-cooked lunch, not the flavorless creamy orange-colored curries she had reluctantly eaten at ethnic restaurants. The fans white-colored but yellowing, hung from the high ceilings would whir slowly, lulling one to sleep, while the Sun beat outside on the concrete. Eventually, dusk would fall, the heat giving way to a soft breeze that caressed your skin like resham, the soul and body heaving a sigh of relief for a few hours until the morning Sun started the relentless cycle again. In the distance, you would hear faint strains of devotional music as night approached, stars revealed themselves and a sense of mystery hung in the air.
The car halted. She entered the house, struggling with suitcases. “Thank God for old houses with high ceilings,” she thought. It was only after a few minutes that she realized that an air-conditioner was on, bought she was told because the city was now intolerably hot. The house was quiet. “Everyone is so busy these days but they will try to visit,” she was told. Jet lagged, she fell asleep as if drugged. Squinting, she looked at the gleaming, old Radium timepiece. It was 9 pm. She stepped out on the balcony. The humidity and heat hung low and a mosquito buzzed. She retreated inside as pilgrims whizzed past in their SUV, loud music blaring, ready for salvation.The Music of a Soft Wind by Melody Hapner (honorable mention)
I live in Missouri. I breathe in Missouri air. I have a mortgage for a Missouri home, and I go to work every day to a job in Missouri. But I do not find contentment nor do I find hope, resolve, or any other emotional binding to this place. Instead, I find myself longing. The dream was to come to fruition with our relocation to this place. It didn’t. I doubt it will.
“Yes,” he says to me.
“You’re wrong,” I say.
“When did this start?”
“When the Arch was within view. When there was no turning back.”
He doesn’t care. We are here for him and what he needs. That’s what matters most. I may crumble on the inside, but I must maintain the appearance of happiness to the world, or at least to Missouri.
“It’s only another handful of years,” he says.
“I know,” I say.
“You’ll be happy then.”
I stare out the window at the snow falling on the branches of the decrepit oak in our back yard. It is cloaked in at least an inch of snow. It doesn’t look as if it would be able to sway to the music of a soft wind, but instead like it would dissolve should the faintest of winds rustle its branches. It is stuck – weighed down by the impossibility of its circumstance. That poor tree is in misery.
For this year’s art exhibit, we asked area artists to contribute works that explore the idea of home, of leaving and returning, or what One Read author Keija Parssinen calls “that mysterious child-love for a left-behind place.” We were absolutely thrilled at the quality and variety of work submitted.
At the exhibit’s opening reception on September 10, the following winners and honorable mentions were announced.
First place: “If Only,” a digital painting by Laura Labieniec Pintel
Second place: “Dark House,” a work in glass by Susan Taylor Glasgow
Third place: “I Still Cry,” a photograph by Marilyn Cummins
Honorable mentions went to:
Tootie Burns for “House Keys” (mixed media)
Rebecca Douglas for “The Road Back” (quilted, collaged fiber)
Rebekah Gates for “3 Phases of Home” (wood, textiles, mixed media)
Kay McCarthy for “Lake Sally Memories” (watercolor)
Dennis Murphy for “The Giant in You” (lighted construction)
The exhibit can be viewed at Orr Street Studios through September 21.
One Read programming begins this week, and our friends at the Tribune have published some insightful pieces about Keija Parssinen’s book “The Ruins of Us” in advance of the discussions, films, art exhibits and other events happening this September.
The Tribune’s Amy Wilder writes eloquently about the deep sense of place and emotional intensity of “The Ruins of Us.” She describes Parssinen’s roots in Saudi Arabia and how her outsider’s perspective lends a certain insight into that country’s culture. Read Wilder’s piece, Years Spent Abroad Shaped One Read Author’s Perspective.
Finally, for the second year the Tribune is hosting One Read’s online book club. Each Monday we summarize two or three chapters and offer questions for discussion. You are invited to join the conversation and contribute your comments!
The post Author Keija Parssinen and One Read in the Columbia Daily Tribune appeared first on One READ.
Thursday, September 19 › 7 p.m.
Columbia, Columbia College, Launer Auditorium
Thursday, September 26 › 7 p.m.
Fulton, William Woods University Library Auditorium
One Read author Keija Parssinen steps up to the podium to talk about growing up in Saudi Arabia and how it inspired her to write her debut novel, “The Ruins of Us.” She’ll also speak to writing as a craft and answer your questions.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing following each of these talks.
Browse our full listing of One Read events in our online program guide, and join us in September for book discussions, films, presentations, radio programs, art and more. And don’t forget to sign up to let us know you are reading this year’s selection.