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Book Club

University of Winnipeg Library Book Club Lists - motivating reading, thought, and discussion beyond regular academic studies

About Amnesty International Book Club

2020 Book Selections

All of Us in Our Own Lives

A beautiful story of strangers who shape each other's lives in fateful ways, All of Us in Our Own Lives delves deeply into the lives of women and men in Nepal and into the world of international aid. Ava Berriden, a Canadian lawyer, quits her corporate job in Toronto to move to Nepal, from where she was adopted as a baby. There she struggles to adapt to her new career in international aid and forge a connection with the country of her birth. Ava's work brings her into contact with Indira Sharma, who has ambitions of becoming the first Nepali woman director of a NGO; Sapana Karki, a bright young teenager living a small village; and Gyanu, Sapana's brother, who has returned home from Dubai to settle his sister's future after their father's death. Their journeys collide in unexpected ways. All of Us in Our Own Lives is a stunning, keenly observant novel about human interconnectedness, about privilege, and about the ethics of international aid (the earnestness and idealism and yet its cynical, moneyed nature).

Aria

An extraordinary, cinematic saga of rags-to-riches-to-revolution that follows an orphan girl coming of age in Iran at a time of dramatic upheaval   It is the 1950s in a restless Iran, a country rich in oil but deeply divided by class and religion. The government is unpopular and corrupt and under foreign sway. One night, an illiterate army driver hears the pitiful cry of a baby abandoned in an alley and menaced by ravenous wild dogs. He snatches up the child and takes her home, naming her Aria--the first step on an unlikely path from deprivation to privilege. Over the next two decades, the orphan girl acquires three mother figures whose secrets she will learn only much later: reckless and self-absorbed Zahra, who abuses her; wealthy and compassionate Fereshteh, who adopts her; and mysterious Mehri, whose connection to Aria is both a blessing and a burden.   A university education opens a new world to Aria, and she is soon caught up in the excitement and danger of the popular uprising against the Shah that sweeps through the streets of Tehran. The novel's heart-pounding, explosive finale sees the Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal regime seize power--even as Aria falls in love and becomes a mother herself.   Nazanine Hozar's stunning debut gives us an unusually intimate view of a momentous time, through the eyes of a young woman coming to terms with the mysteries of her own past and future.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political.

All We Knew but Couldn't Say

Finalist for the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in Nonfiction Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries. After being pressured to leave home at fourteen, and after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets. Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award-winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn't Say is a testament to survival, love, and the belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.

Good Citizens Need Not Fear

"Bright, funny, satirical and relevant. . . . A new talent to watch"--Margaret Atwood "These immersive linked stories grapple with Ukrainian history through the waning years of the USSR and birth pangs of democracy...Reva's characters spark off the page as they confront a brutal bureaucratic past with the only tool they possess--hope."--O, The Oprah Magazine A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single crumbling apartment building in Ukraine. A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva's "darkly hilarious" (Anthony Doerr) intertwined narratives, nine stories that span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union. But even as the benighted denizens of 1933 Ivansk Street weather the official neglect of the increasingly powerless authorities, they devise ingenious ways to survive. In "Bone Music," an agoraphobic recluse survives by selling contraband LPs, mapping the vinyl grooves of illegal Western records into stolen X-ray film. A delusional secret service agent in "Letter of Apology" becomes convinced he's being covertly recruited to guard Lenin's tomb, just as his parents, not seen since he was a small child, supposedly were. Weaving the narratives together is the unforgettable, chameleon-like Zaya: a cleft-lipped orphan in "Little Rabbit," a beauty-pageant crasher in "Miss USSR," a sadist-for-hire to the Eastern Bloc's newly minted oligarchs in "Homecoming." Good Citizens Need Not Fear tacks from moments of intense paranoia to surprising tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amid the roiling forces of history. Inspired by her and her family's own experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the black absurdism of early Shteyngart and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra's Tsar of Love and Techno to a "bang-on brilliant" (Miriam Toews) collection that is "fearless and thrilling" (Bret Anthony Johnston), and as clever as it is heartfelt. "You've never read anything like them"--Elizabeth McCracken

2020 Book Selections

2019 Book Selections

2018 Book Selections

2017 Book Selections

2015 Book Selections

2016 Book Selections

2014 Book Selections

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