The Book Club Hub – Translated Stories

Book clubs offer a great opportunity for friends and book lovers to gather (whether virtually or in person) to catch up and discuss a good book. There’s only two problems with this activity and they seem to come up at every meeting: what book should the group read next and how do you find enough copies for everyone?

TBPL is here to help with our Book Club in a Bag service. Each bag includes 10 paperback copies of the same book, discussion questions for your group to ponder, author information, and book reviews. With over 200 different titles available, there is bound to be one that is the perfect next read for your group.

Visit our online catalogue to place holds on book club bags as well as individual copies of any of the books mentioned below. If you’re looking to view all of the book club bags available, simply click the link and search “book club bag”. Any library patron can place a hold on a bag for pick up at any of our open branches. These bags are loaned out for 8 weeks, which gives you and your book club plenty of time to read and discuss.

Every month, a new set of book club titles will be highlighted in The Book Club Hub post. This month features novels that have been translated to English. All of the stories featured this month were originally written in another language. These stories have reached far and wide, having found great success in their original countries of publication, and being translated to English (as well as other languages) in order to reach more readers. This month’s selections feature stories with humour, heart, and so much more. Here are this month’s selections:

And the Birds Rained Down – Jocelyne Saucier (translated from French)

A CBC Canada Reads 2015 Selection!
Finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for French-to-English Translation

Tom and Charlie have decided to live out the remainder of their lives on their own terms, hidden away in a remote forest, their only connection to the outside world a couple of pot growers who deliver whatever they can’t eke out for themselves.

But one summer two women arrive. One is a young photographer documenting a a series of catastrophic forest fires that swept Northern Ontario early in the century; she’s on the trail of the recently deceased Ted Boychuck, a survivor of the blaze. And then the elderly aunt of the one of the pot growers appears, fleeing one of the psychiatric institutions that have been her home since she was sixteen. She joins the men in the woods and begins a new life as Marie-Desneige. With the photographer’s help, they find Ted’s series of paintings about the fire, and begin to decipher the dead man’s history.

A haunting meditation on aging and self-determination, And the Birds Rained Down, originally published in French as Il pleuvait des oiseaux, was the winner of the Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie, the first Canadian title to win this honour. It was winner of the Prix des lecteurs Radio-Canada, the Prix des collégiens du Québec, the Prix Ringuet 2012 and a finalist for the Grand Prix de la ville de Montréal.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson (translated from Swedish)

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health. A big celebration is in the works for his 100th birthday, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: he has not only witnessed some of the most important events of the 20th century, but actually played a key role in them. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk (translated from Polish)

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .

A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

Us Against You – Fredrik Backman (translated from Swedish)

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Reading a novel that was originally written in a language other than English is a great way to expand your book club’s repertoire and a great way to discover some novels you may have missed. Consider checking out one of these great stories for your book club today!

Not in a book club? No problem! These books are also available as single copies in our online catalogue.

Book descriptions via GoodReads

Lindsay – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you

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