As many of you know, from your fabulous response to my hosting stress-out, I hosted my book group this week. Thank you all for the food and drink suggestions you sent in, they inspired me to serve the following: a large punch bowl of lemonade (Country Time, but tricked out with lemon slices and spearmint leaves so it looked like I'd been slaving all day squeezing lemons); Prosecco, naan bread with hummus; olives and cheese sticks, cheese and crackers; a fruit salad of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries; ginger cookies and lemon cake. I believe everyone was pleased with the nosh.
We had a great discussion of Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, which all of us really liked and the fact that it was stories didn't slow us down as I had feared.(For more on how to discuss short stories, read this thoughtful piece from short story author Christopher Meeks over on the blog SheisTooFondofBooks). We remarked on how Lahiri's stories and depictions of human interaction reflect such universal feelings and relationships. While she's writing specifically about Indians and their immigration experience, when it comes down to each story, all of us found so much to identify with. We have some members who are not native to the US and it's always so interesting to hear their reaction to stories like Lahiri's about people who move to America and keep so much of their cultural identity and traditions intact.
We voted for our next selection and I offered up 6 choices rather than our usual 5. We had to go through a few rounds of voting to finally narrow it down to our winner. The contestants were (and forgive me, I know they're all from one particular house, but work was crazy this week and my husband was out of town and it was all I could do to remember to have books on hand):
Marisa de los Santos' Belong to Me
Delaune Michel's The Safety of Secrets
Debra Dean's The Madonnas of Leningrad
Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Dalia Sofer's The Septembers of Shiraz
Masha Hamilton's The Camel Bookmobile
The winner was The Septembers of Shiraz and I'm so excited to read Sofer's debut novel set in Iran after the revolution. You may recall that there's an online discussion of Shiraz going on right now at EverydayIWritetheBook so we'll be sure to check out those comments as well before we meet in August.