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Sunday, June 27, 2010

People of the Book Takes Us on Adventures in History

Most of us enjoyed the stories in The People of the Book, that author Geraldine Brooks used to create a fictitious but engaging history of the real illuminated Haggadah known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. Two Austin women (Amy and Traci, friends of mine) who haven't been to our group but who had read the book and wanted to discuss it joined us, both adding wonderful interesting comments to our discussion! Please keep in mind that your friends might want to join us and that anyone is invited to our meetings any time.

As usual, we went beyond the obvious stories in our discussion. Jennifer led the discussion with a list of questions.

The first question asked us to compare and contrast the perspectives of Hannah and Ozren, regarding Ozren's sick child. Ozren seemed more fatalistic, whereas Hannah wanted to do everything possible to help the child. We could easily understand Hannah's feeling as coming from the American culture of fixing everything. We decided that Ozren's background of war and death and strife in Bosnian colored his way of coping with his son's illness.

Another question involved Rabbi Ayreh and Father Vistorni. Vistorni asked Ayreh to tell the printer that a book was not acceptable to the Church, but Ayreh refused. Among Ayreh's possible reasons for this was one that a visitor to our group, Amy, suggested. Because Jews feel that books are sacred, the Rabbi would be averse to doing anything that would lead to destruction of a book.

We covered 9 questions. Then, as we often do, we critiqued the end of the book! Some of us felt this time that the book had an extra ending added on. Could this have been because of a suggestion by an editor? The critique was that the ending went on and on, and that the beginning of the book and the characters involved with this ending, Amitai and Werner, had not been developed enough to merit such important roles at the end of the book. Those of us who criticized the ending felt that the theft of the book at the end did not add to the quality of the story and that the book could have ended with the final chapter on Lola.

There is a copy of the Sarajevo Haggadah available for $350. There are a few photos from the book that you can look at following this link:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the website showing the orignial book. It was interesting learning about all the historical persecution of Jews in the side stories.

I read the Pop. ? Jim Thompson book. The dialogue was interesting, but I don't think I needed to read it. It was kind of sick. CT