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Old 08-05-2014, 11:39 AM   #1
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desertblues Vote • August 2014

Help choose the August 2014 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days and a discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.

The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like. If you vote for the winner it is hoped that you will read the selection with the club and/or join in the discussion.

The rotating nominator (this month - desertblues) may not vote in the poll. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll where the rotating nominator again may not vote. If the run-off also ends in a tie then the tie will be resolved by the rotating nominator.

Select from the following works:

The Song of Roland
By Turold(?). La Chanson de Roland.

The Chanson de Roland or the Song of Roland is an epic poem based on the Battle of Roncevaux in 778, during the reign of Charlemagne, emperor of the Carolingian empire (Western Europe). The knight Roland, a bold warrior of Charlemagne’s court, is the hero of the tale. It tells the story of his role in Charlemagne’s campaign against the Muslim in Spain.
The poem is a ‘chanson de geste’ or a song of heroic deeds: composed in ten-syllable occasionally rhymed laisses (types of stanza of varying length). It is the oldest surviving major work of French literature. The tale is not of the Crusade itself, but it is first written down in a date very close to that of Pope Urban’s call (1095) for the First Crusade.

There are free eBooks and I found one for $1,20 on Amazon.
A good translation is the one by Dorothy Sayers. Her version is as pbook from Penguin and I found it as eBook on a Canadian site where it is in the public domain (check if this applies for your country).

Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en
The Journey to the West is a Chinese novel, published in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng’en (1500-1582). It is one of the Four Great Classical novels of the Chinese literature and still very alive in China and Asia. The book has strong roots in Chinese folk religion, mythology, and Confucianism-Taoist- and Buddhist philosophy.
The novel is an extended account by Wu Cheng’en of the legendary pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who travels from China to India to obtain sacred Buddhist texts, the sŭtras. It retains the broad outline of the monk’s own account with elements from folk tales and his own invention, the appearance of Monkey and his three companions. free eBook

Also known as "Monkey" in a heavily abridged English translation.

The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk
Ferit Orhan Pamuk (Istanbul 1952) is a Turkish novelist and academic. He received the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature. In 2005 Pamuk is put on trial in Turkey after he made a controversial statement regarding the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. As a result his books were burned at rallies and he became the target of assassination attempts.
The White Castle is a work of historical fiction and at the same time a treatise of the enigma of identity and the relations between East and West.
The story: in the 17th century a young Italian scholar, sailing from Venice to Naples is taken prisoner and delivered to Constantinople. There he falls into the custody of a scholar known as Hoja,-master-, who is his exact double. The two interact; the slave instructs his master in Western science and technology and they each becomes curious about each other’s culture…..with unexpected results.
from $9,99 Amazon eBook

Max Havelaar, or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli
Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company is a socially significant 1860 novel by Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker 1820-1887). Multatuli is the author, but also an official of the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia at the time.
This novel is important in shaping and modifying Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch Indies in the 19th-20th century. In the 19th century the Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch Indies implement a Cultivation System (Cultuurstelsel) in order to increase revenues. This system mandates Indonesian farmers to grow a quota of commercially tradable crops as sugar and coffer, instead of growing staple foods as rice. At the same time, the colonial government implements a tax collection system in which the collecting agents are paid by commission. The combination of these two strategies causes widespread abuse of colonial power, especially on Java and Sumatra.
Multatuli writes in the Max Havelaar poignant stories about the Indonesian, in protest against these colonial policies and also in an attempt to reinstate him. It will raise the awareness of Europeans living in Europe at the time that the wealth that they enjoy is the result of suffering in other parts of the world.
(the pseudonym Multatuli is from the Latin multa tuli ‘ I have carried much’ or ‘ I have suffered much’. )
free eBook or for $4,83 at Amazon

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Sea of Poppies is a novel by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh (Calcutta 1958) which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. It is the first volume of what will be the Ibis trilogy. The story is set prior to the First Opium War (1839-1842), on the banks of the holy river Ganges and in Calcutta.
At the heart of this saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean. Its purpose is to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. from $7,76 WHSmith, UK eBook

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) is an Egyptian writer who wins the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature to explore themes of existentialism.
Palace Walk is the first book of the Cairo Trilogy. It begins in 1917, during World War I, and ends in 1919, the year of the nationalist revolution. The book highlights the cultural and political transition Egypt experiences at this time, developments brought into focus by the lives of the el-Gawad family in Cairo. Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad is the tyrannical head of his household, demanding total, unquestioning obedience from his wife, his sons, and his daughters. The characters in the book are important mediators between issues of local and wider scope. from $12,16 WHSmith UK, used pBook from Amazon $2,48

The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah
Kader Abdolah (Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani.1954 Arak, Iran) is a writer, poet and columnist. He joins the left-wing movement opposing the Shah in 1977- and later the Khomeini- regimes. He flees to the Netherlands as a political refugee in 1988. (the pseudonym Kader Abdolah is composed of the names of two executed friends).
The House of Mosque follows the life of an Iranian family during the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, through the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the installment of the Khomeini government. It primarily explores how the Iranian people cope with the second half of the 20th century’s American influence over Iran. It shows the struggle between the leaders of the (significant economic force) bazaar and the religious rule of the imans. But also the differences between the children who are caught up in revolutionary ideas and do not follow the old rules of the house.
from $8,34 Amazon eBook

Last edited by sun surfer; 08-05-2014 at 01:17 PM.
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