Category Archives: Book Club

Book Club: Cameron Wright’s “The Rent Collector” Wed., Jul. 19th at 7:45 P.M.

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one womans journey to save her son and another womans chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia–perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia–everyone deserves a second chance.


Book Club: Ronald H. Balson’s “Karolina’s Twins”, Wed., Dec. 7th After Evening Minyan

From the author of Once We Were Brothers comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise, return to Poland and find two sisters lost during World War II.

Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.

Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.

Book Club: Philip Roth’s “Indignation” (2008) Tue., Sep. 27th After Minyan at 7:30 P.M.

Set in America in 1951, the second year of the Korean War, Indignation is narrated by Marcus Messner, a Jewish college student from Newark, New Jersey, who describes his sophomore year at Winesburg College in Ohio. Marcus transfers to Winesburg from Robert Treat College in Newark to escape his father, a kosher butcher, who appears to have become consumed with fear about the dangers of adult life, the world, and the uncertainty that awaits his son.

At Winesburg College, Marcus becomes infatuated with a fellow student, Olivia Hutton, a survivor of a suicide attempt. The sexually inexperienced Marcus is bewildered when Olivia performs fellatio on him during their one and only date. Marcus’ mother objects to his dating someone who attempted suicide and makes him vow to end their relationship.

Marcus has an adversarial relationship with the dean of men, Hawes Caudwell. In a meeting in Dean Caudwell’s office, Marcus objects to the chapel attendance requirement on the grounds that he is an atheist. In this meeting, he quotes extensively from Bertrand Russell‘s essay “Why I Am Not a Christian“. Later, the dean finds Marcus guilty of hiring another student to attend chapel in his place; when Marcus refuses to attend double the number of chapel services as punishment, the dean expels him. His expulsion allows the U.S. Army to draft him and send him to fight in Korea where he is killed in combat. Early in the novel, Marcus explains that he is dead and telling his story from the afterlife; later it is revealed that he is unconscious from his combat wounds and the morphine that has been administered.

The Winesburg setting is an homage to Sherwood Anderson‘s book Winesburg, Ohio.