Love (of books) in the time of Corona

We have a number of avid readers among our diplomatic and German-speaking members. As not every diplomatic member speaks German but almost everybody speaks English, we have been organizing our group meetings in English for many years now. During summer, we choose a topic for the coming club year and pick out seven or eight novels of various foreign authors. The topic for the 2020/21 club year is “Postcolonial Literature” and we selected novels from the USA, Ireland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Australia and the Caribbean.

Of course, the Corona restrictions make it difficult for us to meet in-person. Online meeting is not the same as our regular meetings in the group leaders’ homes or the members’. One of our members from Israel said that she missed the friendly chats with her book-club friends over a cuppa and a piece of cake, a hug and a pat on the shoulder. Since the interaction through the screen limits only one person to speak at a time, it feels distant and less personal. However,  we are at least able “to see” our friends, keep in touch and exchange ideas. It keeps our hopes up for a future meeting in-person again. Wie did just that on 19 January 2021 during our fourth bookclub meeting through Zoom.

Ulla Matussek gave an introduction to the historical and political background of “All the Lives We Never Lived’ by Indian author Anuradha Roy. The events of the novel are set between the fight for Indian independence and the World War II. A number of participants who lived in India for several years shared their personal experiences in our discussion, the characters, the literary merits and the flaws of the novel. We had a lively, enjoyable conversation and are looking forward to the next meeting about the novel “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe on 16 February.