Welcome to the first post in the Bartlett Reads 2016 series. This year, our community-reads selection is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. This October, the community will come together to read the book, and attend events based on the themes in the book. Each week this month, we’ll feature books in some of the themes in The Namesake.
This week, we’re looking at the immigrant experience in America.
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love. (publisher description)
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future. (publisher description)
This novel tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago. In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war. (publisher description)
Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together. (publisher description)
Telling the story of a family of Jewish Hungarian immigrants settled in Chicago in the first half of the 20th century, this novel follows their rise from poverty to prosperity as Cecil Slaughter’s children—out of equal measures glorified memory and sibling rivalry—name their daughters after him, with subtle variations: Ceci, Cecilia, Cecily, Celine, Celie, and Celeste. Despite—or perhaps because of—this and other familial forces pushing on them, each has a personality and direction of life distinct from her cousins. Celie is the top saleswoman in an upscale dress shop; Cecily is a playwright; Cecilia is a poet; Celine finds her expression in the seduction of men; and Celeste died as an infant. Ceci, the eldest of the Slaughter grandchildren and daughter of the admired and envied family beauty, Rose, died as a young adult and she serves as narrator of the novel from the afterlife. Through reflection, and with the counsel of Lao Tzu, she gradually attains a greater understanding and acceptance of Earthly human weakness, even as the lives of her living cousins lead inexorably to a violent and tragic conclusion. (publisher description)
Join us as we explore the immigrant experience in film tomorrow at 2 p.m. Find more information here.