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258: Julia Alvarez's IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES - September 2023 Book Club


What do you know about Trujillo's dictatorship in the Dominican Republic? For our September book club pick, Jen and Ashley discuss Julia Alvarez's classic book In the Time of the Butterflies (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), which is a historical fictional account of the four Mirabal sisters.


We also share our pairings including Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) and Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). Celeste Ng's Our Missing Hearts (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), which we read as our January 2023 book club pick and discussed on episode 246, would also be an excellent near-future dystopian fiction pairing.


Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Our Book Club Pick

Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Our Pairings

Ashley - Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Other Mentions

Celeste Ng's Our Missing Hearts (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - Our January Book Club episode


Give Me One - Book Club Tip

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Bookish Check-in

Ashley was reading...

Book Cover of Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead

Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.


"Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.


Book Cover of Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days

Jen was reading...

Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"From the bestselling, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, a novel that is 'funny and wise and sumptuously written' (Jonathan Franzen, The New York Times Book Review).


"Colson Whitehead's triumphant novel is on one level a multifaceted retelling of the story of John Henry, the black steel-driver who died outracing a machine designed to replace him. On another level it's the story of a disaffected, middle-aged black journalist on a mission to set a record for junketeering who attends the annual John Henry Days festival. It is also a high-velocity thrill ride through the tunnel where American legend gives way to American pop culture, replete with p. r. flacks, stamp collectors, blues men, and turn-of-the-century song pluggers.


"John Henry Days is an acrobatic, intellectually dazzling, and laugh-out-loud funny book that will be read and talked about for years to come."


Our Book Club Pick

Book Cover of Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies

Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas--the Butterflies.

"In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters--Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé--speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from secret crushes to gunrunning, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human costs of political oppression."


Our Pairings

Ashley shared the following book recommendation as her pairing...

Book Cover of Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat

Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"Urania Cabral, a New York lawyer, returns to the Dominican Republic after a lifelong self-imposed exile. Once she is back in her homeland, the elusive feeling of terror that has overshadowed her whole life suddenly takes shape. Urania's own story alternates with the powerful climax of dictator Rafael Trujillo's reign.


"In 1961, Trujillo's decadent inner circle (which includes Urania's soon-to-be disgraced father) enjoys the luxuries of privilege while the rest of the nation lives in fear and deprivation. As Trujillo clings to power, a plot to push the Dominican Republic into the future is being formed. But after the murder of its hated dictator, the Goat, is carried out, the Dominican Republic is plunged into the nightmare of a bloody and uncertain aftermath. Now, thirty years later, Urania reveals how her own family was fatally wounded by the forces of history. In The Feast of the Goat, Mario Vargas Llosa eloquently explores the effects of power and violence on the lives of both the oppressors and those they victimized."


Jen shared the following book recommendation as her pairing...

Book Cover of Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints

Daniel José Older’s The Book of Lost Saints (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"Marisol vanished during the Cuban Revolution, disappearing with hardly a trace. Now, shaped by atrocities long-forgotten, her tenacious spirit visits her nephew, Ramón, in modern-day New Jersey. Her hope: that her presence will prompt him to unearth their painful family history.


"Ramón launches a haphazard investigation into the story of his ancestor, unaware of the forces driving him on his search. Along the way, he falls in love, faces a run-in with a murderous gangster, and uncovers the lives of the lost saints who helped Marisol during her imprisonment.


"The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older is a haunting meditation on family, forgiveness, and the violent struggle to be free.'

 

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