June 27, 2020 - 2 p.m. Appleton / 8 p.m. London timeUncommon Reader book cover written by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Join us at the end of June to chat about Alan Bennett's book The Uncommon Reader, a short novella that offers the perfect, relaxing way to ease yourself into some reading for the summer break.

"When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.

With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life."

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July 25, 2020 - 2 p.m. Appleton / 8 p.m. London time

In Our Mad and Furious City by Guz Gunaratne

In Our Mad and Furious City book cover by Guz Gunaratne"Inspired by the real-life murder of a British army soldier by religious fanatics and the rampant burning of mosques that followed, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City is a snapshot of the diverse, frenzied edges of modern-day London. A crackling debut from a vital new voice, it pulses with the frantic energy of the city’s homegrown grime music and is animated by the youthful rage of a dispossessed, overlooked, and often misrepresented generation. 

While Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf organize their lives around soccer, girls, and grime, Caroline and Nelson struggle to overcome pasts that haunt them. Each voice is uniquely insightful, impassioned, and unforgettable, and when stitched together, they trace a brutal and vibrant tapestry of today’s London. In a 48-hour surge of extremism and violence, their lives are inexorably drawn together in the lead-up to an explosive, tragic climax. 

In Our Mad and Furious City documents the stark disparities and bubbling fury coursing beneath the prosperous surface of a city uniquely on the brink. Written in the distinctive vernaculars of contemporary London, the story challenges the ways in which we coexist now - and, more importantly, the ways in which we often fail to do so."

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