Literary Circle

The Amerikahaus Literary Circle is a free English book club open to the public. Meetings (usually) take place in the Amerikahaus in Munich on the first Wednesday of each month from October through July.

 

The titles are nominated and voted upon by the members twice a year.

 

Meetings and Titles for 2017

11 January 2017: Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

Originally published in 2007, Teju Cole's first novel recounts the travels of a young man who returns to Nigeria after fifteen years in New York.  In resplendent and excruciating detail, Every Day Is for the Thief candidly tells of this homecoming into a world of political and spiritual corruption.

 

8 February 2017: A Lost Lady by Willa Cather (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

First published in 1923, A Lost Lady by Willa Cather is set in a small town along the Transcontinental Railroad.  The novel, which would go on to inspire F. Scott Fitzgerald to write The Great Gatsby, details the change of life in the West from the age of noble pioneers to one of unremitting capitalist expansion.

 

8 March 2017: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson—with exquisite poetry—tells a story of three generations of women. The novel won the PEN/Hemingway Award for best first novel; it was also named one of the best novels of all time by the The Guardian and one of the best novels of the twentieth century by TIME magazine.

 

5 April 2017: The Sellout by Paul Beatty (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

In October 2016, Paul Beatty became the first American to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for The Sellout, which takes place in Los Angeles and concerns a protagonist who grows artisanal marijuana and watermelons.  The novel has been hailed as a superlative example of contemporary satire, taking present-day American society to task with its savage wit.

 

10 May 2017: Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

Published in 1929, Look Homeward, Angel is Thomas Wolfe's highly autobiographical coming of age story set in a fictionalized incarnation of the author's hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Famously, Maxwell Perkins, an editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, trimmed 60,000 words from the sprawl of the original manuscript, a collaboration crafting the powerful tale that would launch Wolfe's brilliant and all too brief career.

7 June 2017: Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)
Hailed by Time as one of the best 100 novels of the twentieth century, Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion is a ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, capturing the mood of an entire generation. Didion chose Hollywood to serve as her microcosm of contemporary society and, in doing so, exposed a culture characterized by emptiness and ennui in a style of prose that is at once terse, controlled, and highly visual.

5 July 2017: Euphoria by Lily King (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction, Euphoria is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists who are thrown together in the jungles of New Guinea in 1933. They are Nell Stone, famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes; her intelligent and aggressive husband, Fen; and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio are producing their best work, but, soon, a firestorm of jealousy begins, threatening their loves and very lives.

4 October 2017: Paterson by William Carlos Williams (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)
Last year, Jim Jarmusch's critically acclaimed film, Paterson, brought William Carlos William's magnum opus back into the limelight.  Originally published in five volumes over twelve years, William's epic poem was inspired by Joyce's Ulysses and Pound's The Cantos.  In a quintessentially American voice, Paterson comingles divergent facets of the city in northern New Jersey drawn from wellsprings of both the rich history of the region as well as the poet's personal life there.

8 November 2017: Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)
Life is hellish for all the slaves in the New World, but, even among them, Cora is a decided outcast - yet, as she comes into womanhood, even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, and they plot their escape. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey, from which the unremitting terrors of the pre-Civil War era are powerfully evoked. The winner of last year's National Book Award for Fiction and this year's Pulitzer Prize, Underground Railroad is both a telling of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

6 December 2017: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (6:00p.m - 7:30p.m.)
In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South.  Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and result in a watershed literary event when this book was published to enormous critical acclaim.  The unsparing record of place, the people who shaped the land, and the rhythm of their lives are told in a moving and honest way that allows this study to stand as a veritably poetic tract of its time.

 

The Literary Circle is sponsored by the Amerikahaus Verein and the Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations.