Literary Drawing on a Nation's Culture • November 2020
#1  sun surfer 11-04-2020, 12:44 AM
Help select what we'll read and discuss next!

The topic is Drawing on a Nation's Culture.

Books which draw on a nation as a whole's culture, rather than on or from some subculture, or group or individual within it, or however else you may interpret the topic.

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. Voting is complete. Final results-

#2  AnotherCat 11-05-2020, 06:37 PM
I am suggesting books that I have read and enjoyed before, albeit long ago, and could very easily stand a reread of them. I am trying not to appear lazy . The first of those I am sure most others have read too and perhaps feel the same about it.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

I Heard the Owl Call My Name - Craven, Margaret

At the Sign of the Cat and Racket - Honare de Balzac _At_Sceaux_The_Purse

I Heard the Owl Call My Name I was first introduced to by friends who emigrated from British Columbia to NZ. Apparently it was very popular in Canada and despite it being a bit of a "tear jerker" I am relying on its remaining in print for over 50 years as enough to give it some literary status.

At the Sign of the Cat and Racket is the first of the big collection of Balzac novels each depicting an element of French society following the fall of Napoleon.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; well, in my view, an American masterpiece.

#3  Bookworm_Girl 11-06-2020, 10:13 AM
Interesting nominations, AnotherCat. I will be working on mine tomorrow.

#4  sun surfer 11-06-2020, 02:16 PM
Interesting noms! I’ve never read Huckleberry Finn. I did read Tom Sawyer a few years ago.

#5  sun surfer 11-06-2020, 11:53 PM
My first nomination is House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday. It sounds like an interesting look at a man home from a foreign war reconciling his heritage and ancestry with the modern mid-20th century world.

Goodreads . Preview . 185 Pages . 1968 . U.S.

The magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a proud stranger in his native land.

He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.

#6  sun surfer 11-07-2020, 01:57 AM
I'll also nominate Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. This multi-generational story about Uganda's history and culture sounds intriguing.

Goodreads . Preview . 442 Pages . 2014 . Uganda

Uganda’s history reimagined through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan in an award-winning debut.

In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.

#7  sun surfer 11-07-2020, 04:41 PM
AnotherCat, I have a question about the Balzac nomination. The nomination is for At the Sign of the Cat and Racket, which alone is about 59 pages and is the first of his huge 'La Comédie Humaine' series of stories and novels.

However, the Goodreads link you provided is for a book containing three titles: At the Sign Of The Cat And Racket / The Ball At Sceaux / The Purse. In the 'La Comédie Humaine' series these are #1, #2 and #4, and total somewhere around 150 pages (#3 is a novel of over 200 pages, which I'm guessing is why it wasn't included in this collection).

Do you mean(/want) to only nominate At the Sign of the Cat and Racket, or the collection of three titles?

#8  AnotherCat 11-07-2020, 06:08 PM
I actually had in mind just At the Sign of the Cat and Racket but I was working from memory. I recalled it was not very long but not as short as it turns out to be.

I think it would be a bit messy to pile together three of the La Comédie humaine books; I am fine with just the ...Cat and Racket story by itself but if considered too short I'll hunt out something else.

While it has been a long time since I read it the first of the longer books in the series, Letters of Two Brides and it being the third, is maybe too long and involved to just be a simple vignette of an element of society?

#9  Bookworm_Girl 11-07-2020, 07:46 PM
My first nomination is Ramona: The Heart and Conscience of Early California by Helen Hunt Jackson. Public domain (1884). I've read this book before and would enjoy re-reading it.

From Amazon:
Termed the Uncle Tom's Cabin of the southwestern Indians and the first protest novel of California, Ramona is the story of 3 cultures - Indian, Mexican, and Anglo - locked in combat. The upheaval and injustice are humanized through the romance of a beautiful half-Indian orphan who grow up as the ward of Señora Moreno in privileged surroundings, then falls in love with an Indian and joins him in a life of poverty and tragedy. The Ramona Pageant in Hemet, California, based on this romance, has played each year since 1923, reenacting the transition period between Mexican traditions and the new U.S. and state governments.

#10  Bookworm_Girl 11-07-2020, 07:50 PM
My second nomination is The Painted Drum by Louis Erdich.

From Goodreads:
From the author of the National Book Award Winner The Round House, Louise Erdrich's breathtaking, lyrical novel of a priceless Ojibwe artifact and the effect it has had on those who have come into contact with it over the years.

While appraising the estate of a New Hampshire family descended from a North Dakota Indian agent, Faye Travers is startled to discover a rare moose skin and cedar drum fashioned long ago by an Ojibwe artisan. And so begins an illuminating journey both backward and forward in time, following the strange passage of a powerful yet delicate instrument, and revealing the extraordinary lives it has touched and defined.

Compelling and unforgettable, Louise Erdrich's Painted Drum explores the often-fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms of grief with all the grace, wit, and startling beauty that characterizes this acclaimed author's finest work.

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