Literary Freedom • September 2020
#1  sun surfer 09-01-2020, 08:39 AM
Help select what we'll read and discuss next!

The topic is Freedom.

Being free or not being free.

Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.


Nominations are now complete. Initial voting is complete. Run-off voting is complete Final results-

#2  AnotherCat 09-02-2020, 12:21 AM
My nominations are:

In a Free State - V. S. Naipaul

The Story of Dr. Wassell - James Hilton

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (suggest Willets trans., else any other) %20story%20is%20set%20in,Stalinist%20repression%20 been%20openly%20distributed.

I read In a Free State years ago but recall little of it except that I liked it - it has sat on my reread list for quite some time.

#3  sun surfer 09-03-2020, 08:40 PM
Great nominations! For a hot minute, I thought your third nomination was Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. I've read that one before (and liked it), but haven't read any Solzhenitsyn yet. I didn't know much about the Hilton but I have already looked at the links you provided and it looks interesting. I've been wanting to read Naipaul forever and this could be a good excuse for it.

#4  sun surfer 09-04-2020, 08:02 AM
My first nomination is Germinal by Émile Zola. It fits the topic being about horrendous forced working conditions and the fight to break free.

Goodreads . Preview . 510 Pages . 1885 . France

Zola's masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola's death in 1902 it had come to symbolize the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted "Germinal! Germinal!"

The thirteenth novel in Émile Zola’s great Rougon-Macquart sequence, Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.

Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.

#5  sun surfer 09-04-2020, 02:00 PM
My second nomination is The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa. This fits the topic being about a repressive dictator and a country clamouring for more freedom. The author is Peruvian but this book concerns the Dominican Republic.

Goodreads . Preview . 416 Pages . 2000 . Peru

Haunted all her life by feelings of terror and emptiness, forty-nine-year-old Urania Cabral returns to her native Dominican Republic - and finds herself reliving the events of 1961, when the capital was still called Trujillo City and one old man terrorized a nation of three million people. Rafael Trujillo, the depraved ailing dictator whom Dominicans call the Goat, controls his inner circle with a combination of violence and blackmail. In Trujillo's gaudy palace, treachery and cowardice have become the way of life. But Trujillo's grasp is slipping away. There is a conspiracy against him, and a Machiavellian revolution already underway that will have bloody consequences of its own. In this 'masterpiece of Latin American and world literature, and one of the finest political novels ever written' (Bookforum), Mario Vargas Llosa recounts the end of a regime and the birth of a terrible democracy, giving voice to the historical Trujillo and the victims, both innocent and complicit, drawn into his deadly orbit.

#6  Bookworm_Girl 09-04-2020, 08:30 PM
Great nominations! It was hard for me to reduce my list.

My first nomination is The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino.
A landmark new translation of a Calvino classic, a whimsical, spirited novel that imagines a life lived entirely on its own terms

Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth century, rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an existence in the forest canopy—he hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the Age of Enlightenment pass by, and a new century dawn.

The Baron in the Trees exemplifies Calvino’s peerless ability to weave tales that sparkle with enchantment. This new English rendering by acclaimed translator Ann Goldstein breathes new life into one of Calvino’s most beloved works.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 09-04-2020, 08:33 PM
My second nomination is Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucci.

From Goodreads:
Set in the sweltering summer of 1938 in Portugal, a country under the Fascist shadow of Spain, PEREIRA MAINTAINS tells a tale of reluctant heroism. Dr. Peirera, an editor at a second-rate Lisbon newspaper, wants nothing to do with European politics. He's happy to translate 19th-century French stories. His closest confidante is a photograph of his late wife. All this changes when he meets Francesco Monteiro Rossi, an oddly charismatic young man. Pereira gives Rossi work, and continues to pay him, even after discovering that he is using the money to recruit for the anti-Franco International Brigade. PEREIRA MAINTAINS chronicles Pereira's ascent to consciousness, culminating in a devastating and reckless act of rebellion.

#8  Bookworm_Girl 09-04-2020, 08:37 PM
My third nomination is Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

From Amazon US:
Young Chris Guthrie lives a brutal life in the harsh landscape of northern Scotland, torn between her passion for the land, duty to her family and her love of books. When her mother, broken by repeated childbirths, takes her own life and poisons her two youngest children, Chris is left with her father to run the farm on her own. Soon she is alone, and for the first time can choose how to spend her life. But as the First World War begins, everything changes, and the young men leave Scotland for battle. The first in Gibbon's classic trilogy A Scot's Quair, Sunset Song is infused with local vernacular, and innovatively blends Scots and English in an intense description of Scottish life in the early twentieth century.

#9  sun surfer 09-04-2020, 11:53 PM
Great nominations to you too, Bookworm_Girl. I've never read Calvino and the one you nominated looks like fun. Sunset Song is a book I've been wanting to read for awhile. I have already read Pereira Maintains and thought it was good, so if it wins I'll be interested to see what the rest of you think of it in discussion.

#10  sun surfer 09-05-2020, 12:35 AM
Finally I'll nominate A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. I thought this fits the topic being not only about someone trapped in time or contrarily having the unusual freedom of travelling in time, but also to do with a personage famous for her imprisoned lack of freedom.

Goodreads . Preview . 286 Pages . 1939 . England

Penelope Taberner Cameron is a solitary and a sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is of the opinion that the girl has grown all too attached to the products of her imagination and decides to send her away from London for a restorative dose of fresh country air. But staying at Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported at unforeseeable intervals back and forth from modern to Elizabethan times. There she becomes part of a remarkable family that is, Penelope realizes, in terrible danger as they plot to free Mary, Queen of Scot, from the prison in which Queen Elizabeth has confined her.

Penelope knows the tragic end that awaits the Scottish queen but she can neither change the course of events nor persuade her new family of the hopelessness of their cause, which love, loyalty, and justice all compel them to embrace. Caught between present and past, Penelope is ever more torn by questions of freedom and fate. To travel in time, Penelope discovers, is to be very much alone. And yet the slow recurrent rhythms of the natural world, beautifully captured by Alison Uttley, also speak of a greater ongoing life that transcends the passage of years.

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