Friday, December 16, 2011

Announcing the Faith and Fiction Round Table for 2012

For the past two years, I've hosted the Faith and Fiction Round Table as an email group and the hope was that by posting on our various blogs we'd be able to spread the discussion of the themes of the books we read enough so that people could join in without actually having to read the books. Well, I have to admit it was a bit of a failure. The books weren't always great, people would always drop out of the discussion due to their busy schedules and I could never communicate the idea of thematic posts over reviews well enough to participants. So for 2012 I've decided to take a different approach. With the help of Hannah, I've chosen four books, one for each quarter. It's totally open and I'm just hoping that people will choose to read the posts and either post on their own blogs or join the discussion here. I'm really really hopeful that people smarter than me will join in the discussion and read the books because to be honest, that's what makes this kind of experience for me. I don't just want to read significant books in isolation, I want to discuss them and hear different perspectives, and sit with them for awhile. So don't be shy! Please make room in your schedules for any of these books that appeal to you. I will probably be hyping this because I'm a little bit scared no one will be interested enough to join in.

Okay here's the schedule!

March 31st Discussion: Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: a voice on the telephone informs each, “Remember you must die.”

Their geriatric leathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these perhaps supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Cracks appear on the once decorous surface of their lives––unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. Spooky, poignant and wickedIy hilarious, Memento Mori may deal in death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

June 30th Discussion: Viper's Tangle by Francois Mauriac

The masterpiece of one of the twentieth century’s greatest Catholic writers, Vipers’ Tangle tells the story of Monsieur Louis, an embittered aging lawyer who has spread his misery to his entire estranged family. Louis writes a journal to explain to them—and to himself—why his soul has been deformed, why his heart seems like a foul nest of twisted serpents. Mauriac’s novel masterfully explores the corruption caused by pride, avarice, and hatred, and its opposite—the divine grace that remains available to each of us until the very moment of our deaths. It is the unforgettable tale of the battle for one man’s soul.

September 29th Discussion: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.

Gilead is the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

December 1st Discussion: The Final Martyrs by Shusaku Endo

Eleven short, deeply spiritual stories ranging from autobiographical serendipities to solemn, empathetic parables. The title story is set during the 18th-century Shogunate persecution of Christians in Japan and was the basis for Endo's book Silence. Shusaku Endo is the winner of the Akutagawa prize (the Japanese equivalent to the Pulitzer) and his books have been widely translated. Martin Scorsese is currently working on a film adaptation of Silence

I feel like we've come up with a really nice assortment of books and I hope at least one of these catches your eye as a book you'd like to join in discussion for! Mark it on your calender! All of these books are in print, so hopefully you can find them at your library or bookstore or of course in ebook!

Please let me know in comments if you're interested in joining the discussion of any of these books...I won't hold you to the commitment, but it will help me know what to expect.


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