What to read with your book club in January 2020
★ The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Yangsze Choo’s second novel, The Night Tiger is a suspenseful work of fiction set in 1930s Malaysia. Ren, a young servant, attempts to fulfill the extraordinary final desire of his late master, Dr. MacFarlane, whose finger was amputated following an accident. MacFarlane asks Ren to track down the finger and ensure that it’s put in his grave. If the finger isn’t buried before 49 days have passed, the doctor’s spirit will never rest. The tale of Ren’s quest intersects with the story of Ji Lin, a seamstress and dance-hall worker who comes into possession of a remarkably well-maintained amputated finger. The plot thickens when the corpse of a young woman who appears to have been attacked by a tiger is found. Mixing in elements of Malay folklore, Choo spins a wonderfully compelling historical thriller that’s enriched by themes of class and imperialism. Reading groups will savor this acclaimed, multilayered mystery.
Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
The first substantial biography of Douglass in almost 25 years, Blight’s important book rightfully won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.
Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
This companion novel to Brennert’s popular Moloka'i follows the story of Ruth, whose sense of identity is transformed when she gets a letter from her mother, Rachel, who was confined to a leprosy colony in Hawaii.
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
In 1927, Hurston interviewed 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, one of the few remaining survivors of the transatlantic slave trade. Providing a deeply personal look at a dark chapter in history, Hurston’s book is revelatory.
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
When her mother dies, Shalini travels to a village in the Himalayas in search of a salesman who visited her family when she was a child, convinced that he is a link to her mother. Vijay writes with poise and polish in this electrifying story of one woman’s attempt to come to terms with her past and her homeland.