Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meeting of November 17th 2008

Our meeting was held at Michèle's home and the book discussed was "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. This is the second book by this author that we have read. Almost all members were present, Betty, Carla, Colette, Janet, Joan, Jolene, Linda, Michèle and Shirley.  
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul in 1965. He left Afghanistan with his family in 1976 when his father,  a diplomat was posted to Paris. Because of the communist coup in 1978, they were not able to return and immigrated to the United States, specifically California in 1980.  He went on to Medical School at the University of California in San Diego and graduated in 1993. He wrote "The Kite Runner" while still practicing medicine. Even though he was no longer practicing when he wrote "A Thousand Splendid Suns", it took him longer to write this book. He had difficulty writing from a woman's perspective until he decided to just write in their characters simply as people.   
The book was well liked by all members of the Book Club who were present.  Many members felt that the strength of the book is its character development and the family interactions. Mr. Hosseini himself says that his books are about families.  
Many members found that the book was a very sad story but that there was almost always a tiny light of hope. Miriam in particular touched many members, the sacrifices she made, the humiliation she must have felt when Laila arrived, a second wife and the courage it must have taken to help protect Laila and her children.  
We had a discussion about the war in Afghanistan and Canada's involvement. Many members felt that the world could not abandon this country especially because of the plight of women and children under the Taliban.  
We also talked considerably about a woman's situation in a muslim community, the restrictions she must endure such as the veil or burka, the lack of support for education, the lack of respect.  Many members had stories of women they knew and their experience. 

We had a short discussion about the title of the book. The phrase "A Thousand Splendid Suns" comes from a poem by 17th century Persian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi and is titled Kabul. The phrase taken from the poem is: 
"One could not count the moons that shiver on her roofs
And the Thousand Splendid Suns that hide behind her wall"

The whole poem can be found on Wikipedia.  Some members wondered if the suns represented the women hidden behind walls. Some thought it might be hope.

It was a great discussion as usual including not only the book and storyline but also politics and current issues. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Meeting of October 27, 2008

We met at Joan's home and discussed the film, "Last King of Scotland" based on the book of the same title by author Giles Foden. Thank you to Joan for hosting this evening's meeting. The cheese plate was especially appreciated. We had almost full attendance, Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette, Linda, Janet, Joan, Jolene, Shirley and myself Michèle.

The movie is a fictionalized version of Idi Amin's rule as dictator in Uganda. General Amin is played by Forest Whitaker. It is based around the story of a young scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy who becomes Idi Amin's personal physician.

Most members thought the film was well done though many visual errors were apparent in the movie. All members felt that Forest Whitaker was excellent and portrayed Amin's paranoia very well. Some members saw a correlation to the rise of Hitler, the charisma that mesmerized the population. Some members saw a correlation to MacBeth, King of Scotland and very paranoid. Members also felt that James McAvoy played Dr. Garrigan well as a naive easily influenced young man.

This month's choice generated a particularly good discussion. It is very apparent that this is a serious book club! Many members had very thoughtful and insightful comments. Two members had read the book even though the only requirement was viewing the movie. The plot and characters were quite different from the movie itself. One member did research on the British Empire and the impact of the British rule and quick withdrawal from African colonies. One member watched the director's version that gave background information on what scenes are fictional and what scenes are based on facts. There was a good discussion about the so-called benevolent but domineering and racist British rule that did not properly prepare native leaders for independence.

All members felt that this was a good choice generating a lot of discussion and thoughtful insight. Thank you Linda and thank you also to MJ.