CLA's Book Club!

The CLA Book Club, free and open to the public, gives San Joseans the chance to discuss books by the authors they've seen and heard from on-stage as part of the Reading Series.

 

In order to make CLA Book Club more accessible during these difficult times, we are moving our discussion to an online platform. 

 

CLA’s Virtual Book Club continues with Infinite Country by Patricia Engel.

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Current Read:
Whereabouts
by Jhumpa Lahiri

 

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. In the arc of one year, an unnamed narrator in an unnamed city, in the middle of her life’s journey, realizes that she’s lost her way. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.

We follow her to the pool she frequents, and to the train station that leads to her mother, who is mired in her own solitude after her husband’s untimely death. Among those who appear on this woman’s path are colleagues with whom she feels ill at ease, casual acquaintances, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. Until one day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will abruptly change.
 
This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri’s work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. Her debut, internationally-bestselling collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award, The New Yorker Debut of the Year award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Addison Metcalf Award, and a nomination for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was translated into twenty-nine languages. Her first novel, The Namesake, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Her second collection, Unaccustomed Earth, was a #1 New York Times bestseller; named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others; and the recipient of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Lahiri was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012.

This Book Club Meeting will be moderated by ​Ume Ali.

Ume Ali is a Teaching Associate and MFA student at San Jose State University where she studies Fiction and Poetry. Her work deals with issues of patriarchy in immigrant families, third culturalism, and displacement. She has served as contributing editor for Azizah Magazine, published an essay in Three: An Anthology of Flash Nonfiction, and most recently began work on her debut novel. Ume has also been nonfiction editor and marketing lead at Reed Magazine. Her poems can be found in Azizah, and Caesura. When she isn't writing, Ume likes running, and spending time with her partner and three spirited children.

We hope to see you at Book Club! To keep up with our reading timeline follow us on our social media platforms: Instagram  Facebook  Twitter

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Zoom Discussion:

November 7th at 4pm
Last Read:
Infinite Country 
by Patricia Engel

A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK and

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A profound, beautiful novel.” — People * “Poignant.” —BuzzFeed 

 

“A breathtaking story of the unimaginable prices paid for a better life.” —Esquire

This “heartbreaking portrait of a family dealing with the realities of migration and separation” (Time) is “a sweeping love story and tragic drama [and] an authentic vision of what the American Dream looks like in a nationalistic country” (Elle).

I often wonder if we are living the wrong life in the wrong country.

Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family.

How this family came to occupy two different countries, two different worlds, comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro’s deportation and the family’s splintering—the costs they’ve all been living with ever since.

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, gives voice to all five family members as they navigate the particulars of their respective circumstances. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in America, Infinite Country “is as much an all-American story as it is a global one” (Booklist, starred review).

 

This Book Club Meeting will be moderated by ​Timothy Cech.

Timothy Cech served as lead fiction editor for issues 153 and 154 of Reed Magazine. In 2019 he was selected as an Ernie Pyle Reporter of the Year by the Associated Collegiate Press. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at San Jose State University.

 

We hope to see you at Book Club! To keep up with our reading timeline follow us on our social media platforms: Instagram  Facebook  Twitter

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Previous reads:
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