As many readers know, Conway Hall has been home to the independent publisher, Istros Books, for the past 5 years. Next month, we shall be welcoming another publisher, as Peter Owen move into the Fox room on the 2nd floor. With two indy publishers and a wonderful library on our premises, we thought it a good time for a new literary initiative: a monthly book club for members and friends, where we discuss some of the titles produced by our resident publishers, as well as the occasional guest sessions hosted by staff and other residents.
September 22nd – In the Name of the Father and Other Stories by Balla
***With the translator, Peter Sherwood***
Balla is often described as “the Slovak Kafka” for his depictions of the absurd and the mundane. In the Name of the Fatherfeatures a nameless narrator reflecting on his life, looking for someone else to blame for his failed relationship with his parents and two sons, his serial adultery, the breakup of his marriage and his wife’s descent into madness. Against the backdrop of their stiflingly grey provincial lives, he completely fails to act against “the thing” growing in the cellar of the house he built with his brother. The novella won numerous awards in Slovakia and in this edition is accompanied by three additional short stories, which share its unique dark humour, satire and truth.
October 27th – The Traitor’s Niche by Ismael Kadare ***With the Translator, John Hodgson***
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the main square of Constantinople, a niche is carved into ancient stone. Here, the sultan displays the severed heads of his adversaries. People flock to see the latest head and gossip about the state of the empire: the province of Albania is demanding independence again, and the niche awaits a new trophy…
November 24th – A People’s History of the Russian Revolution byNeil Faulkner ***With the Author***
The Russian Revolution may well be the most misunderstood event in modern history. In A People’s History of the Russian Revolution, Neil Faulkner sets out to debunk the myths. In this fast-paced introduction to tumultuous events, the Russian people are the heroes. Faulkner shows how a mass movement of millions, organised in democratic assemblies, mobilised for militant action, destroyed a regime of landlords, profiteers, and warmongers. Faulkner rejects caricatures of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as authoritarian conspirators, ‘democratic-centralists’, or the progenitors of Stalinist dictatorship. He argues that the Russian Revolution was an explosion of democracy and creativity – and that it was crushed by bloody counter-revolution and replaced with a monstrous form of bureaucratic state-capitalism. Laced with first-hand testimony, this history seeks to rescue the democratic essence of the revolution from its detractors and deniers, offering a perfect primer for the modern reader.
NEXT BOOK CLUB – FRIDAY 26TH JANUARY, 18-19:30, Conway Hall Library
We will be reading The Tragic Fate of Moritz Toth by Dana Todorovic
The Tragic Fate of Moritz Toth is story told through two parallel narratives: the growing paranoia of our reluctant hero Moritz, and Tobias Keller, the Moral Issues Advisor with the Office of the Great Overseer, on trail for interfering with the free-will of a human being. As the plot in Moritz’s world develops in the atmospheric style of Kafka and Bulgakov, Tobias discusses with the Disciplinary Committee the life path of Moritz Toth, which initiates debate over the age-old questions concerning the human condition. Mixing philosophy with first-class story-telling, Todorović charmingly coaxes us towards an unexpected conclusion, where the pieces of the puzzle finally come together and the connection between the two storylines is fully elucidated.
The book club is held in the library on the 4th Friday of every month (next date: Friday 23rd February, book to be announced).
We are committed to promoting inclusive practice at Conway Hall. Due to the constraints of our building, the Library is not currently accessible to wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, we are happy to discuss with you how we can make the contents and materials accessible to you. We carefully monitor which events are held in the Library, and will use your comments to enable us to develop ways to ensure that everyone should be able to attend events in the future.