Global Literature Online Book Group
A partnership of international study centers on Harvard’s campus, this online reading series for k-12 educators is back for its second year and will again explore literature from five global regions: Africa, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and the Islamic World. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to discuss works of global literature with experts and authors in monthly, online conversations.
Read more about this program in a recent Gazette article!
If you missed Purple Hibiscus – be sure to watch the book group discussion here!
Recordings of Past Sessions
Sweetness in the Belly with author Camilla Gibb and Professor William Granara.
In the Time of the Butterflies with author Julia Alvarez and Professor Glenda Carpio. (Audio recording)
The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo with Professor David R. McCannh
The Accompanist with Professor Julie Buckler
Purple Hibiscus with Professor Akua Sarr and PhD student Kristen Roupenian
Schedule and Book Descriptions
The Dream Life of Sukhanov, Olga Grushin (2007) featuring the author herself!
Book description: The story of Anatoly Sukhanov, who many years before abandoned the precarious existence of an underground artist for the perks of a Soviet apparatchik. But, at the age of 56, his perfect life is suddenly disintegrating. Buried dreams return to haunt him. New political alignments threaten to undo him. Vaulting effortlessly from the real to the surreal and from privilege to paranoia, The Dream Life of Sukhanov is a darkly funny novel.
Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia (1993) featuring Rainer Schultz, Fellow, DRCLAS Cuban Studies Program.
Book description: Garcia’s first book, Dreaming in Cuban is about three generations of del Pino women who are seeking spiritual homes for their passionate, often troubled souls. Celia del Pino and her descendants also share clairvoyant and visionary powers that somehow remain undiminished, despite the Cuban revolution and its profound effect upon their lives. This dichotomy suffuses their lives with a potent mixture of superstition, politics, and surrealistic charm that gives the novel an otherworldly atmosphere. Writing experimentally in a variety of forms, she combines narratives, love letters, and monologues to portray the del Pinos as they move back and forth through time. Garcia tells their story with an economy of words and a rich, tropical imagery, setting a brisk but comfortable pace.
Autumn Quail, Naguib Mahfouz (1990), featuring the author herself!
Book description: Legendary Egyptian writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Naguib Mahfouz writes about shifting experiences of authority and identity following the Egyptian revolution of 1952. Part of a three-part novella cycle exploring the historic military coup that resulted in the overthrow of Egypt’s constitutional monarchy, this short work of fiction offers a rich historical lens through which to explore political transitions in contemporary Egypt.
Dream of Ding Village, Yan Lianke (2011) featuring Professor Karen Thornber, Comparative Literatures and East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Book description: Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, and the subject of a bitter lawsuit between author and publisher, Dream of Ding Village is Chinese novelist Yan Lianke’s most important novel to date. Set in a poor village in Henan province, it is a deeply moving and beautifully written account of a blood-selling ring in contemporary China. Based on a real-life blood-selling scandal in eastern China, Dream of Ding Village is the result of three years of undercover work by Yan Lianke, who worked as an assistant to a well-known Beijing anthropologist in an effort to study a small village decimated by HIV/AIDS as a result of unregulated blood selling. Whole villages were wiped out with no responsibility taken or reparations paid. Dream of Ding Village focuses on one family, destroyed when one son rises to the top of the Party pile as he exploits the situation, while another son is infected and dies. The result is a passionate and steely critique of the rate at which China is developing and what happens to those who get in the way.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo (2013), featuring the author herself!
Book description: Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in Mumbai, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.” But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
Register now to attend this session. The first 15 K-12 educators who register will receive a free book – see instructions on registration form.
Session Six: April 2014 (date TBD)
Maps, Nuruddin Farah (2000).
Book description: The story of Askar, a man coming of age in the turmoil of modern Africa. After his mother falls victim to the bloody Ethiopian civil war and his father dies on the day of his birth, Askar is taken in and raised by a woman named Misra amid the scandal, gossip, and ritual of a small village. As an adolescent, Askar goes to live in Somalia’s capital, where he strives to find himself just as Somalia struggles for its own national identity.
Date and registration details to follow soon!