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Bream Community Library

Month

February 2017

Reading More in 2017!

The Reading Passport

Noughties buzz words included globalisation and communication. In your Reading Passport Journey this week we will look at a novel by a Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk.

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Snow by Orhan Pamuk 2002

Snow is a clever thriller that explores the dangerous relationship between Western secularism and Islamic fervor, and has clear resonance today. A Kafkaesque character known as Ka is stranded by snow in a north-eastern Turkish town called Kars. Ka is a poet and political exile who plays the part of an intrepid reporter investigating the suicides of a number of young women (one of which is stopped from wearing her Muslim headscarf at university). During his investigation, Ka finds himself caught up in a political coup organised by a revolutionary actor opposed to the Islamists and supported by the dreaded “Special Operations” force, MIT. He falls in love, witnesses an assassination, meets disaffected youth and writes poems in an attempt to arbitrate between the revolutionary forces and the Islamists. His end is terrible, but he is one of literature’s most moving heroes.

The novel is full of thrilling descriptions of murder, interrogations and sudden disappearances. But, the novel is more than just a thriller, examining the volatile arguments across a range of contentious issues from police surveillance, to what it is to be a Turk or European, to love, suicide and God. The novel’s relaxed realism and intelligent provoking demonstrates how novelists can expose important truths.

If you enjoy “Snow”, you might also like Orhan Pamuk’s “White Castle”, a novel about a young Italian scholar who is captured by the Ottomans and becomes the servant of a man eager to absorb the knowledge of the West.

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Kids Get Coding!

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Our Digital World, Algorithms & Bugs, Learn to Program, Staying Safe

New Junior fiction

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The Princess and the Frog (Disney), How to Catch a Star, The New Baby, Frankie Peaches and me

New books added to our shelves today

Reading more in 2017!

The Reading Passport

 

The 1990’s was a decade of multiculturalism and alternative media.  Your Reading Passport journey continues with a look at “The Emigrants” by the German writer W. G. Sebald.  Sebald settled permanently in England in 1970, becoming Professor of German Literature at The University of East Anglia. He wrote all his books in German which were then translated into English.

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The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald

“The Emigrants” is an unusual book: part puzzle, part dream. Is it a fictional novel, or is it a memoir? Are the pictures that are interspersed through the text  really taken from a family album, or are they devices to give apparent authenticity to the text? And, how do the four stories of people vaguely known by Sebald fit together into a coherent narrative.

 

Dr Henry Selwyn, whom Sebald meets when renting a flat in Norwich was originally a poor emigrant from Lithuania. He became wealthy after moving to England. He married but became increasing estranged from his wife, and committed suicide with an old hunting rifle kept from his African hunting days. Paul Bereyer, Sebald’s gifted teacher in Germany also commits suicide by throwing himself under a train after suffering bouts of claustrophobia since the war. Sebald’s Great Uncle Ambros was butler to the Solomon’s of Long Island before committing himself to a Sanatorium in Ithaca. And, Max Ferber, a reclusive German artist Sebald met in Manchester kept quiet about his parents until , as he was dying, he gave Sebald his mother’s journal for the war years before she was sent to a camp.

Sebald’s prose style is very precise, and although cautious seems to simmer with implications. He writes of the small things that stick in the mind, building inexorably into a picture of catastrophic loss. Although the Holocaust is never mentioned by name, and the book is neither a novel, nor history, nor a witness statement, it becomes a powerful invocation of the private devastation’s of Jewish experience that lingered long after the war.

If you want to read more Sebald after “The Emigrants” try his book “Austerlitz”, the story of Jacques Austerlitz, a Jewish refugee child during the war trying to trace the fate of his father in Prague and Paris. Like his other books, it is a blend of history, reportage, memoir and fiction.

LEGO Batman craft afternoon

What a turnout! We had so many in our library for the craft afternoon I was afraid we were going to burst out the doors! We were first all in the children’s library but because things were getting rather crowded we moved the LEGO Batman challenge into the main library.

Huge thank you to Helen and Graham who put together and absolutely fantastic afternoon!

Queen Victoria’s letters

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The Victoria Letters

The Official companion to the ITV series

New arrivals

Reading more in 2017

The 1980s was a decade of technologies, music and fashions sparking a renewed vigour towards consumerism. New political thinking was creating new social structures, reflected in the literature of the decade. The feminist literature of Margaret Atwood marked the political mood. This week we take a look at her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale uses her sensual intelligence and rigorous narrative gifts to portray in beautifully descriptive prose the life of an enslaved woman in a puritan dystopia ruled by men. Its a novel full of incendiary discussion and extraordinary scenes.

 Handmaids, Guardians, Angels, Eco wives, Marthas and Commanders all have defined roles in the Republic of Gilead, a bible oriented North American State established in reaction to the late twentieth century sexual permissiveness. Offred is a handmaiden, a woman capable of bearing children in a nation of plummeting birth rates. Her own husband and daughters are forbidden subjects of the past as she has to try and conceive a child with her Commander. But, even in an age of absolute submissiveness there are underground movements of protest.

 Offred’s account of her repressed life is a detailed description from some surviving cassette tapes found in a house two centuries later. Its a tale of her mental and physical degradation, and her fears of what has happened to her family and what will happen to her if she rebels. Some critics claim that the anger of its feminism dates it, but it is still a powerful evocation of the necessity of emotions.

 If you enjoy The Handmaid’s Tales, you might also like “Oryx and Crake” where she imagines a world in which humans are almost extinct and replaced by humanoid Crakes.

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