We had an enjoyable discussion for this month's book 'We, the Survivors' by Tash Aw on Monday. It was a perfect example of a novel receiving a mixed reception and giving us much to debate.
Even if people felt this wasn't their sort of book, they still appreciated elements of the writing or the subject matter and could contribute positively to the discussion. Those who responded enthusiastically to the book could similarly acknowledge elements where the author's intent wasn't clear or could have been addressed differently. We all listened attentively to each other's comments and came away with something new to ponder and consider. It was a stimulating and uplifting discussion!
Being able to debate passionately while still respectfully considering the opposing point of view is an art that sometimes appears lost in today's world, so I was interested to listen in to a series that has been running on BBC Radio Four, called 'Across the Red Line'. Conflict resolution experts are invited to share insight and techniques as two speakers from opposing sides of an issue present their arguments. It's fascinating and encouraging to hear how a potentially combative confrontation can become collaborative and conciliatory.
Something in the literary calendar which tends to generate strong opinion is the Booker Prize and this year's longlist has just been announced. However this time it's met a favourable response. The director of the prize has acknowledged that the list is "notable for the engrossing stories within it...and its recognition of writers who have been working at an exceptionally high standard for many years." Perhaps we'll get together as a group to discuss the shortlist when it's announced in September - let me know if you'd like to take part.
Thank you for reading.