Vinny & Ted Book Club – 6th August

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August’s Book Club will be taking place on the 6th August from 7:30pm and there is a choice of two books to read. Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck and Brotherless Night by V.V Ganeshananthan a synopsis of them both is below which might help you choose (or read them both).

Space on the night is limited so please email bar@vinnyandted.co.uk to secure your spot. If you can’t attend you can still read the books and be part of our special offers. At our first meeting we handed out a discount card for Chiltern bookshop in Gerrards Cross and a Vinny & Ted bookmark.

Kairos – Jenny Erpenbeck – International Booker Prize Winner

How is a totalitarian state like a love affair? They both leave archives behind when they go. How is a totalitarian state like a bad love affair? The archive that survives the end of each is a monument to abuse, surveillance and betrayal.

This equivalence is indirectly evoked in the opening pages of Jenny Erpenbeck’s fourth novel, Kairos. The totalitarian state in question is the German Democratic Republic, whose Ministry for State Security (or Stasi) generated, in its forty years of existence, ‘the equivalent of all records in German history since the middle ages’ (this factoid comes courtesy not of Erpenbeck but of Anna Funder’s semi-elegiac 2003 portrait of GDR life, Stasiland).

The love affair at the centre of Kairos is that of Hans and Katharina. When it begins, Hans is in his fifties, is married and has a son. Katharina is nineteen. They meet on a bus in East Berlin in July 1986. Their affair, it spoils nothing to say, unravels at the same time as the GDR itself.

Kairos begins in the present day. Katharina, now married herself, receives news of Hans’s death, along with a tranche of his papers. It prompts her to turn to her own archive – a suitcase ‘full of letters, carbons, and souvenirs, “flat product” for the most part, as the archivists like to say … A long time ago, the papers in his boxes and those in her suitcase were speaking to each other. Now they’re both speaking to time.’ That comes in the prologue. An epilogue sees Katharina delving into another archive, neither her own nor Hans’s this time, but one in which she finds a previously hidden truth about their love.

Brotherless Night – V.V Ganeshananthan – Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction

In this searing novel, a courageous young woman tries to protect her dream of becoming a doctor as civil war devastates Sri Lanka.

Jaffna, 1981. Sixteen-year-old Sashi wants to become a doctor. But over the next decade, a vicious civil war tears through her home, and her dream spins off course as she sees her four beloved brothers and their friend K swept up in the mounting violence. Desperate to act, Sashi accepts K’s invitation to work as a medic at the field hospital for the militant Tamil Tigers, who, following years of state discrimination and violence, are fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. But after the Tigers murder one of her teachers and Indian peacekeepers arrive only to commit further atrocities, Sashi begins to question where she stands. When one of her medical school professors, a Tamil feminist and dissident, invites her to join a secret project documenting human rights violations, she embarks on a dangerous path that will change her forever.

Set during the early years of Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war, Brotherless Night is a heartrending portrait of one woman’s moral journey and a testament to both the enduring impact of war and the bonds of home.