December Book Groups
Stories of Exile Book Discussion: The Glatstein Chronicles by Jacob Glatstein
Join Professor Anna Elena Torres to explore and discuss The Glatstein Chronicles by Jacob Glatstein. This seminal American work from the Yiddish literary canon, in a restored English edition, offers the luminous narrative of the author’s journey home to his Polish birthplace. In 1934, with World War II on the horizon, Jacob Glatstein (1896–1971) traveled from his home in America to his native Poland to visit his dying mother. One of the foremost Yiddish poets of the day, he used his journey as the basis for two autobiographical novellas, together known as The Glatstein Chronicles, in which he intertwines childhood memories with observations of growing anti-Semitism in Europe.
Registration is required. After registering, you will be contacted by librarian Rachel Garcia and she will provide instructions on how to access a copy of the book in your preferred format. The ebook is always available to read through Hoopla. There are limited print copies of the book available.
This program is part of the library's "Stories of Exile" series taking place this fall. This series is the result of a grant awarded to Wilmette Public Library and twenty-seven other libraries around the country by the Yiddish Book Center. The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. With this series, the Center hopes to use Yiddish literature as a lens to reflect upon the experience of exile, displacement, and migration shared across cultures and throughout history.
Anna Elena Torres is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago where she is a scholar of Comparative Literature specializing in Jewish Studies. Her current work examines how Yiddish literature was informed by mass migration and movements for human rights beyond the frames of statism and nationalism.
For those who would like to purchase a copy of The Glatstein Chronicles, please support our local independent bookstore, The Book Stall at 811 Elm Street in Winnetka.
Classics & Contemporary Book Discussion: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." This immortal sentence opens The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American literature, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a novel still read throughout the world. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, witnesses the tragic event. Deeply moved, he embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention, not chance, that led to the deaths of the five people crossing the bridge that day. Ultimately, his search leads to a timeless investigation into the nature of fate and love, and the meaning of the human condition. (From the publisher)
For those who would like to purchase a copy of The Bridge of San Luis Rey, please support our local independent bookstore, The Book Stall at 811 Elm Street in Winnetka.
Novels @ Night Book Group: Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.
The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision. (From the publisher)
For those who would like to purchase a copy of Moon of the Crusted Snow, please support our local independent bookstore, The Book Stall at 811 Elm Street in Winnetka.
Read Around the World Book Discussion: Animal Life by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
In the days leading up to Christmas, Dómhildur delivers her 1,922nd baby. Beginnings and endings are her family trade; she comes from a long line of midwives on her mother’s side and a long line of undertakers on her father’s. She even lives in the apartment that she inherited from her grandaunt, a midwife with a unique reputation for her unconventional methods.
As a terrible storm races towards Reykjavík, Dómhildur discovers decades worth of letters and manuscripts hidden amongst her grandaunt’s clutter. Fielding calls from her anxious meteorologist sister and visits from her curious new neighbour, Dómhildur escapes into her grandaunt’s archive and discovers strange and beautiful reflections on birth, death, and human nature.
With her singular warmth and humor, in Animal Life Ólafsdóttir gives us a beguiling novel that comes direct from the depths of an Icelandic winter, full of hope for spring. (From the publisher)
For those who would like to purchase a copy of Animal Life, please support our local independent bookstore, The Book Stall at 811 Elm Street in Winnetka.