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brixton   the thing around your neck 0001   splendid sun   unbowed

risc book club

At RISC book club we read and discuss one classic or groundbreaking 'world' novel each month - come and join us!

The book club began in September 2006 and has had a fantastic group of people supporting it ever since. It is linked to the World Shop Bookshop, which stocks all of the titles that the bookclub chooses to read, and offers the public and bookclub members a discount for whichever title the bookclub has voted for that month.

The bookclub meets once a month to discuss new and classic international fiction. We aim to support the work of authors from the Majority World, that is, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Caribbean, by reading their novels and poetry. Some of these authors do not get major press recognition and struggle to find a market for their work, so there are often titles that the Bookshop stocks and the bookclub reads that might seem obscure. We all think this is a great way to support these authors. Sometimes titles by these inspiring authors do get recognised in the mainstream bookshops, which is also fantastic, and so there is always a mix of books.

Over the last few years, we have read books from an amazing range of countries and authors, for example, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Angola, Palestine, Malaysia, Nigeria, India, China, Chile, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Sudan, Jamaica, Iran, UK, Libya, Mexico, and many many others.

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upcoming books

 

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The Swan Book by Alexis Wright

24th November 2016

19:30 - Room 1

previous books

The Japanese Lover

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

October 2016

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Princess Bari by Hwang Sok-yong

September 2016

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The Black Coat by Neamat Imam

July 2016

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The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami

June 2016

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Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

May 2016

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Human Acts by Han Kang

April 2016

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 The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

March 2016

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Leaving Little Havana by Cecila M. Fernandez

2016

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Kafka on the Shore by Murakami

2016

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Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto

2015

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Blacks by A. Igoni Barrett

2015

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Arab Jazz by Karim Miske

2015

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The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

2015

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Balthasar's Odyssey by Amin Malouf

August 2015

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Happiness Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

July 2015

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The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura

June 2015

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A Candle or the Sun by Gopal Bartham

May 2015

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A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie

April 2015

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The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto

March 2015

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Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

February 2015

Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

January 2015

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

December 2014

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

November 2014

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No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer

October 2014

Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam

September 2014

Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie Dai

July 2014

Vauxhall by Gabriel Gbadamosi

June 2014

 

How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position (A novel) by Tabish Khair

May 2014

 

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

April 2014

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Looking for Transwonderland by Noo Saro-Wiwa

July 2013

cutting for stone

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

June 2013

pao

Pao by Kerry Young

2013

god dies nile

Go Dies by the Nile by Nawal El Saadawi

2013

Long Song

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

2013

wandering falcon

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

2013

last brother

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah

2013

sly company

The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya

2013

girl made of dust

A Girl Mande of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

2013

man of people

A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe

2013

elegy for easterly

An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah

2013

tales of freedom

Tales of Freedom by Ben Okri

2013

the thing around your neck

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"I really liked this book. I don't normally read short stories, but each story seemed like another little piece of her personality, or her story, told in such a beautiful way. She is an expert story teller, and even though you don't necessarily identify personally with every tale, there's something to grips you, or lingers with you, or moves you in every single story. I am looking forward to what this author produces next..."

Bookclub member May 2010

lajja

 Lajja by Taslima Nasrin

"This tale of Hindu oppression in post-independence Bangladesh is urgent, political, message-based fiction.  As a piece of fiction it compares very badly to other novels with analogous social content like Half of a Yellow Sun (Biafra), Mornings in Jenin (Palestine) or Shalimar the Clown (Kashmir) which manage to illuminate issues and have literary quality. However to be fair these books were all written from the diaspora with the safety of distance and the perspective of time and to finish Lajja I had to set aside its crudity as a novel and read it as a different kind of work.

Lajja deals with the journey of Suranjan from a fierce commitment to remaining in Bangladesh as a minority in spite of rising turmoil, to his hopelessness and flight to India.  Initially eschewing identity labels, Suranjan is gradually forced into an externally-imposed Hindu identity despite his atheism.

Competing layers of identity are wrestled with in the young state: cultural or linguistic communities; perceived ethnicity; religion; state.  Of these, Nasreen privileges ethnicity, claiming Bengali-ness perceived as ‘race’ as the best basis for the state. What she does not make explicit is why choosing any one of these layers as the basis for harmony or belonging is any less spurious than all of the others.  Where in Nigeria the evils of communalism would refer to race, and in Pakistan religion would be seen as a unifying force in a multi-nation, multilingual state, Nasreen derides religious identity without interrogating whether race is any more moral.

She also ignores the role of class in the conflict almost entirely, mentioning briefly at the very end that Hindus have owned the majority of the agricultural land despite most farmers being Muslim.  The potentially exploitative role of a land-owning class is treated as irrelevant in the tensions. As a character Suranjan also leaves an impression of a spoilt bourgeois who is mostly mourning his loss of affluence and the country mansion.

While I found this crude, shrill, partisan and containing no intelligent defence for race-based nationalism, it held my interest and gave a glimpse of the tone of inter-community relations in Bangladesh."

Bookclub member April 2010

She

She's Gone by Kwame Dawes

"I'm sorry but I really didn't enjoy this book. I had to force myself to finish it, and most of it just made me cross! I found most of the characters incredibly stereotypical, and the plot was dull and lifeless. A really superficial, irritating read!" 

Bookclub member November 2009

iran awake

Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi

"This is a fascinating read, I've never learnt so much about a place from a book as I did from this. The history lesson is cleverly disguised in what can only be described as one of the most amazing women in the world's story. Ebadi, winner of the nobel peace prize, has fought against the kind of adversity that most of us can never really imagine, and seems to be winning, bit by bit. A genuinely interesting, powerful and empowering read. I would recommend this to anyone, and suggest to everyone that we find out about other countries, through the eyes of their people."

Bookclub Member Feb 2009

immigrant

The Immigrant by Manju Kapur

"Sheltered, obedient dentist Ananda migrates from small town India to Canada after the sudden death of his parents.  Living initially with his uncle while he requalifies, Ananda is unwillingly coaxed into a frugal and timid independence.  Despite the will to integrate he fails to take risks, find a girlfriend or confront an unexplored sexual dysfunction, eventually opting for the safer alternative of a transnational arranged marriage.
Nina is 30, works as a lecturer in Delhi, supports her mother and is best friends with a free-thinking 40-something divorcee.  Despite her independence, the weight of expectation to marry and have children before it is too late eats away at her until she succumbs gratefully to marriage and a new life with Ananda.
What might end the tale is merely the start of this detailed and often painful dissection of an ill-fated marriage between people who have sought a spouse to compensate for other shortcomings.  A compelling read, not without sympathy or hope."

Bookclub Member, Nov 2008

translator

The Translator by Leila Aboulela

"I enjoyed the vivid simplicity of the writing and found the two protagonists and their love across religious lines beautifully drawn, but part of what appears through this clarity of writing is the author's failure to ascribe humanity or depth to those outside her own camp. Her exile in Scotland is peopled with shadowy half-figures with whom we are offered no connection and in whom she takes little interest. I suppose I would recommend it as an exercise in understanding a world view you may not agree with and liking the person while not liking their views."

Bookclub Member, Feb 2008