CLA 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 changing times, we are moving our discussion to an online platform.
CLA Book Club picks for Spring 2022 include The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang, Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, and The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The sequel to The Sympathizer, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and went on to sell over a million copies worldwide, The Committed tells the story of “the man of two minds” as he comes as a refugee to France and turns his hand to capitalism
The long-awaited follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer, which has sold more than one million copies worldwide, The Committed follows the man of two minds as he arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his blood brother Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.
Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese “aunt,” he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotic merchandise. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition. The Sympathizer will need all his wits, resourcefulness, and moral flexibility if he is to prevail.
Both highly suspenseful and existential, The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen’s position in the firmament of American letters.
Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Committed, which continues the story of The Sympathizer, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, alongside seven other prizes. He is also the author of the short story collection The Refugees; the nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; the children's book Chicken of the Sea, with his son Ellison and with Thi Bui and Hien Bui-Stafford; and is the editor of an anthology of refugee writing, The Displaced. He is a University Professor and the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He lives in Los Angeles.
May 1st at 4pm
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese—and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby—and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together?
This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.
Torrey Peters is the author of the novel Detransition, Baby, published by One World/Random House, which was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She is also the authors of the novellas Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa and a Masters in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth. Torrey rides a pink motorcycle and splits her time between Brooklyn and an off-grid cabin in Vermont.