October 2021

 

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October’s book was Amnesty by Aravind Adiga, it is the story of Danny, Dhananjaya Rajaratnam, the ‘legendary’ Tamil cleaner from Sri Lanka living in Sydney for the last 4 years after dropping out of his ‘rip off college’ in Wollongong. He is an illegal immigrant, with golden highlights in his hair to look more ‘Australian’; going out with Sonya the Vietnamese Australian vegan nurse whose mother has all the evidence of legality i.e. Medicare card, Healthcare card etc. He lives in Glebe above the shop of Tommo the dodgy Greek who takes financial advantage of his illegality. He cleans for the ‘thin-bums’ who eat salads and jog, whereas the ‘thick bums’, the obese poor do their own cleaning.
The story begins on the day that Danny discovers No 5 has been murdered; Radha Thomas an Australian born Indian married to an Aussie. Danny suspects No 6 Dr Prakash, an Indian born Australian, of the murder. Over the next 12 hours Danny struggles with whether to notify the police of his suspicions and risk exposing his illegal status. The story flips between this day, the 4 years of being illegal including his relationship with Nos 5 & 6, the Queen and King of the Nile and their affair and gambling problem. Danny reminisces about his life in Sri Lanka and work experience in Dubai, all pretty negative and exploitative. He mentions Abe the Japanese Brazilian window cleaner and how he and others have been treated by Aussie employers.
This is the story of the ‘brown man’, the substrata of ‘illegals’, the classes of ‘Brown”, and as Kate Evans from The Bookshelf stated: “the blistering in cutting detail of racism in Australia”.
Most readers thought the book was an enjoyable read although one member found the audio narrative quite disconcerting and Danny’s inability to follow through annoying e.g. visiting his girlfriend at the hospital. Other members felt that this highlighted the fragility and impotence of his life as an illegal immigrant and added to the growing tension. Danny’s fear of being visible in the world was palpable. It was generally conceded that the author’s device of using the events of a single day was, at times, quite clunky and possibly needed a bit of an edit. Most of the discussion centred around topics such as white v brown legal immigration, the plight of illegals in the pandemic and life without documentation especially in regard to health care, racial discrimination, racial inclusion in schools, Australia as a racist nation and are things actually improving in this regard. It was a very lively and far ranging exchange. So apart from the readability of the book, the unanimous consensus was that it is an important book in terms of raising these issues and making us more conscious of the plight of “brown” both legal and illegal.

Ratings: Pauline 2, Viv, Lynda, Dianne, Margie 3, Kim, Nicola, Di, Janet, Jenny 3.5, Sandy 4.

 
Next month we get together 8/11 at 6:30pm to discuss How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, hope to see you there and Happy Reading!

 

About Us

We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.

Preece HouseWe normally meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops. This venue has no toilet but here’s one in the park) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist for 2021 and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device at the bottom of the page.

CONTACT DETAILS

We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed Preece House located at Bischof Park, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. If the Covid19 restrictions for live meetings are on, we meet online. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.
 

 

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