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Book for July 05, 2017
Group 3
Meeting at Jutta's place
Here and Now
Here and Now
by Paul Auster & J.M. Coetzee

"Here and Now" consists of letters exchanged in the years 2008-2011 between American novelist Paul Auster - Winter Journal (2010); 4 3 2 1 (2017) etc. - and South African (now an Australian citizen) Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee - Scenes from Provincial Life (2012) etc. The book is announced as ‘an epistolary dialogue between two great writers who became great friends.’

The theme of friendship runs through the book, theoretically at first, as Coetzee reflects on friendship's enigmatic nature. As the correspondence goes on, the men’s friendship appears to cement, helped along by face-to-face meetings all over the world.

The dialogue is regularly initiated by Coetzee’s observations and questions while Auster attempts to find answers. The exchanges show two curious men trying to understand sport on TV, the 2008 financial crash, fatherhood, literature, film and philosophy, liberal politics, marriage, love. Although Beckett, Dostoyevsky and Derrida are mentioned the letters are not heavily literary in style, dealing also with day-to-day trivia like travel plans, food, sleep habits.

Reading the book can feel like taking a long and pleasant walk with two intelligent friends. Both authors are approaching the last stage of their lives, neither one exhibits an urgent need to become engaged or solve the world’s problems. The tone is placid and reflective.

The Telegraph review


Book for July 12, 2017
Group 2
Lock In
Lock In
Lock In is a science fiction police procedural novel by American writer John Scalzi. The book was published by Tor Books in August 2014.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It's nothing you could have expected.

Author: John Scalzi
John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man's War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, where he has written on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, writing and politics, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.
Book for August 02, 2017
Group 3
All That Is
All That Is

"All That Is" covers a period from 1945 to 1985: From his experience as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America. He studies and writes for a theatre journal. New York is an untamed place where anything seems possible. He finds a position as an editor in a prestigious publishing house at a time when publishing is still largely a private affair — a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe — a time of gatherings in fabled apartments and conversations that continue long into the night. In this world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, love eludes him. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen. Finally he meets a woman who enthralls him — setting him on a course he could never have imagined.


Author: James Salter

James Salter (1925 - 2015) was an American novelist and short-story writer. Originally a career officer and pilot in the United States Air Force, he abandoned the military profession in 1957 following the publication of his first novel, The Hunters. According to Salter only his 1967 novel A Sport and a Pastime came close to meeting his own standards. After Solo Faces in 1979 Salter didn't publish another novel until All That Is in 2013, two years before his death. Salter won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1989.

Book for September 06, 2017
Group 3
Waiting for the Barbarians
Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians was first published in 1980. An opera based on the book by American composer Philip Glass premiered at Theater Erfurt, Germany, in 2005.

The story is narrated by the unnamed magistrate of a small town on the border of "the Empire". The magistrate's peaceful existence ends when the capital sends an envoy, Colonel Joll, who has come on instructions that "the Barbarians" beyond the border are preparing an attack on the empire. While the magistrate has every reason to doubt that assumption he is powerless to prevent Colonell Joll from leading an expedition into Barbarian lands, where he captures a number of peaceful people. He returns with his prisoners, tortures some of them to death and through coerced confessions provides "proof" for the agressive intentions of the Barbarians. Satisfied he returns to the capital, leaving the Magistate to deal with the victims. One of them, the daughter of a man murdered by Joll and herself crippled from the torture is now begging in the town. Motivated by a mixture of compassion and his duty to keep the streets 'clean', the magistrate takes her into his home. As he tries to nurse the girl back to a state some health he crosses the line to a sexual relationship which she neither encourages nor rejects. But eventually he takes her back to her own people. As he returns to the town soldiers from the capital arrest him for deserting his post and colluding with the enemy. As winter approaches the soldiers desert and most of the townspeople flee believing in an imminent attack from beyond the border. However, there is no sign of the Barbarians as the season's first snow falls.


Author: J.M. Coetzee

John Maxwell Coetzee, born 1940, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. The reality of South Africa appears repeatedly in Coetzee’s work. He has said that apartheid values and behavior could arise anywhere. According to the Nobel Comittee his novels focus on the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilization while capturing man's divine spark in moments of defeat and weakness. Coetzee venerates Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett as literary examples.

Book for September 08, 2017
Group 1
A Visit From the Goon Squad
A Visit From the Goon Squad
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Author: Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan, born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco, is the author of several novels and a short story collection. Her most recent book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times book prize. Also a journalist, she has written frequently in the New York Times Magazine.
Book for September 13, 2017
Group 2
Girl at War
Girl at War
Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia’s capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana’s idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana’s sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.

New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she’s tried to move on from her past, she can’t escape her memories of war—secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country’s difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.

Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Nović fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl—and its legacy on all of us. It’s a precocious debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.

Author: Sara Nović
Sara is the fiction editor at Blunderbuss Magazine and teaches at Columbia University, the New School's Eugene Lang College, and with the Words After War writing workshop. She holds an MFA from Columbia, where she studied fiction and literary translation, and lives in Brooklyn. Girl at War, her first novel, is out from Random House and Little, Brown UK, and is forthcoming in thirteen more languages.