Massey College Book Club

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, presented by Jean Riley

Published in French in 2014 and in English in 2015, The Meursault Investigation was described in The Guardian as “an instant classic.” and provoked death threats in the author’s native Algeria. Quadrangle member Jean Riley writes: “this a short (143 pages) haunting book revisits the intrigue of The Stranger by Albert Camus from the point of view, years later, of the brother of the Arab murdered by Meursault. The hypnotic first-person narrative addresses issues of identity, memory, racism, powerlessness, anger and sorrow. It reminds readers of the stark tone of alienation of The Stranger while at the same time conveying passionate fury and deep melancholy. I believe it is perfect for a Massey discussion because it has academic resonance and contemporary relevance.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hunger by Roxane Gay, presenter TBA

Hunger comprises at least two stories: a partial but more or less linear telling of Gay’s life so far, and a more halting, spiraling description of her everyday experience as a fat woman. Even though she has found great success as an essayist, writer of fiction and university teacher, and attracted a large, passionate online following, it’s clear from her account that her weight is still the first thing strangers notice about her, and that she must spend much of her time dealing with their unsolicited responses to it. These range from rude to abusive, encompassing all sorts of casual mockery, faux concern and outright aggression along the way. But “it’s the world around her that comes off as out of control in its appetites – hate-filled, obsessed with women’s body parts, eager to punish what it helps create.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

In The Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe, presenter TBA

In this original and trenchant work, Sharpe, an English professor at Tufts University, interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the “orthography of the wake. “ She starts this deep and highly creative work with the personal tragedy of the deaths of her nephew, mother, sister, and brother in the same short period of time. She uses her own experience of the familial “wake,” and multiple meanings of that word, to open a door to the larger political and global revelations of Blackness as a force for expression, resistance, and therefore, existence in the face of the “on-going ruptures of chattel slavery.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, presenter TBA

Scarborough has already received recognition as winner of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Emerging Writers Award in 2015, and finalist for the 2016 $50,000 Half the World Global Literati Award for best unpublished manuscript. It offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone. Scarborough, a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, like many inner-city communities, suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighbourhood under fire.

Friday April 20, 2018

Book Club Gala