Our 25th book club is coming up and that means we’ve read 25 great and not so great books. However it also means there are 25 possibly great books that we’ve left unread. We wanted to do something special for our 25th book club anniversary, so we’re introducing the Zombie Round! All the books that just didn’t make it the first time around get another chance in this zombie round. We’ve made brackets of all 22 books that didn’t make it and over the next few weeks you get to vote which one will get another chance to be read.Our seventh randomly selected bracket consists of The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan, Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi and Shards by Ismet Prcic.
The Panopticon was part of our failed experiment to meet up with a different book club. We did read A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki that Sunday, which turned out to be a great read. The Panopticon has been in our sight for quite a while now, so maybe it’s time to actually read that bad boy.
Pa`nop´ti`con ( noun). A circular prison with cells so constructed that the prisoners can be observed at all times. [Greek panoptos ‘seen by all’] Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car, headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can’t remember the events that led her here, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and there is blood on Anais’s school uniform. Smart, funny and fierce, Anais is a counter-culture outlaw, a bohemian philosopher in sailor shorts and a pillbox hat. She is also a child who has been let down, or worse, by just about every adult she has ever met. The residents of the Panopticon form intense bonds, heightened by their place on the periphery, and Anais finds herself part of an ad hoc family there. Much more suspicious are the social workers, especially Helen, who is about to leave her job for an elephant sanctuary in India but is determined to force Anais to confront the circumstances of her birth before she goes. Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate: she is part of an experiment, she always was, it’s a given, a liberty – a fact. And the experiment is closing in. In language dazzling, energetic and pure, The Panopticon introduces us to a heartbreaking young heroine and an incredibly assured and outstanding new voice in fiction.
Ghana Must Go was an attempt to get out of our comfort zone for our fourth book club. It lost from Lolito by Ben Brooks (a book that was much more in our comfort zone). Are we ready to take the step now?
Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.
Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.
Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.
Ismet Prcic’s brilliant, provocative, and propulsively energetic debut is about a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, who has fled his war-torn homeland and is now struggling to reconcile his past with his present life in California.
He is advised that in order to make peace with the corrosive guilt he harbors over leaving behind his family behind, he must “write everything.” The result is a great rattlebag of memories, confessions, and fictions: sweetly humorous recollections of Ismet’s childhood in Tuzla appear alongside anguished letters to his mother about the challenges of life in this new world. As Ismet’s foothold in the present falls away, his writings are further complicated by stories from the point of view of another young man—real or imagined—named Mustafa, who joined a troop of elite soldiers and stayed in Bosnia to fight. When Mustafa’s story begins to overshadow Ismet’s new-world identity, the reader is charged with piecing together the fragments of a life that has become eerily unrecognizable, even to the one living it.
Shards is a thrilling read—a harrowing war story, a stunningly inventive coming of age, and a heartbreaking saga of a splintered family.
We’re almost at the end of round one. Vote for 1.7 now and make sure your favorite makes it to round 2!