Book clubbing season is once again in full swing at ALU HQ. This sixth annual book club brings you a wildly imaginative, coming-of-age novel-as-memoir from Quebec author Eric Dupont, and a powerful, striking debut novel from Rahela Nayebzadah we’re sure to have lots of discussion around. If we’re being too elusive, read on to find out about this year’s book picks!
Nadia Comaneci’s gold-medal performance at the Olympic Games in Montreal is the starting point for a whole new generation. Eric Dupont watches the performance on TV, mesmerized. The son of a police officer (Henry VIII) and a professional cook – as he likes to remind us – he grows up in the depths of the Quebec countryside with a new address for almost every birthday and little but memories of his mother to hang onto. His parents have divorced, and the novel’s narrator relates his childhood, comparing it to a family gymnastics performance worthy of Nadia herself.Life in the court of Matane is unforgiving, and we explore different facets of it (dreams of sovereignty, schoolyard bullying, imagined missions to Russia, poems by Baudelaire), each based around an encounter with a different animal, until the narrator befriends a great horned owl, summons up the courage to let go of the upper bar forever, and makes his glorious escape.
In a powerful debut novel author Rahela Nayebzadah introduces three unforgettable characters, Beh, Shabnam and Alif. In a world swirling with secrets, racism and a touch of magic we watch through the eyes of these three children as Nayebzadah’s family of Afghan immigrants try to find their way in an often uncaring society. But as a sexual assault on thirteen-year-old Beh unleashes the past and destroys the family the reader is left wondering who is the monster child? Is it Beh, who says she is called a disease? Is it Shabnam, who cries tears of blood? Is it Alif, who in the end declares “We are a family of monsters”? Or are the monsters all around us?