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On Monday, we will be meeting for our next book club; a gathering that sometimes has intense debates, but is always a lot of fun. For #FlashBackFriday, let’s take a look at a book club review from 2019.
Review by Anne van Oorschot
by Anne van Oorschot.
08 October 2020. With the Netherlands adopting stricter Corona rules – 3 guests per household – having our regular book discussion gathering was impossible.
Fortunately, there are numerous online meeting platforms that make holding a virtual meeting easy to arrange and attend and I was happy to have a total of 9 attend our evening on October 8th. Two of those who attended were new to our small group and, while they hadn’t read the book, they wanted to get a feel for how our discussion evenings go.
While everyone was positive about the book, the intricacies of Kingsolver’s language, while nice once you got used to it, were initially challenging for those who were non-native English speakers. We saw similarities between the butterflies and Dellarobia, the main character, with her flame colored hair and her sense of being lost in her own life. It was interesting to see her change throughout the book: no more vanity so the needed glasses were always on, stop smoking, venturing out of her comfort zone to work with the scientists and finally taking charge of her life by setting a new course closer to her true desires for herself. We reflected on the pre-conceived notions both the area residents and the scientists had of each other. People the world over do the same thing, making it hard for differing groups to really see and understand each other. (more…)
by Essi Koskela
27 Aug 2020. tíc book club’s summer reading Not before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo is a reimagined story from a classic Finnish song, The Goblin and the Ray of Light.
We started our discussion session by listening to this sweet and melodic piece, before we immersed ourselves into the darker themes portrayed in the book. is a dark satire of Mikael, or Angel, a freelance photographer working in advertising, who adopts a young, abandoned troll from the streets of Tampere city. It turns out that trolls do not make good pets. Pessi, the troll, secretes intoxicating pheromones which produce an insidious effect on Mikael and everyone around him. The symbolism behind the power-battle of Pessi‘s influence and the civilized world around Mikael made an excellent discussion point, as Mikael starts to struggle with the beast within. With the words of the author herself: ‘the book deals with themes bigger than life: the relationship between man and nature; the problems of different kinds of otherness; and how our biological ancestry as hierarchical pack animals still affects us.’
Although the book is classified into science fiction or fantasy, only the existence of the endangered and rarely seen trolls separates the world in the story from reality. In fact, the writer has constructed such convincing pseudo-scientific biological origin for the troll species accompanied with numerous (real) references to Finnish literature and folklore about the trolls that it was easy to believe in the existence of trolls. Arguably trolls have been very much real in the Finnish way of life before modern civilisation finally reached all the far corners of wilderness in the country, and remnants of those beliefs are still reflected in the language and children’s imagination. One of Sinisalo’s reference books, “Memories from Lapland” by Samuli Paulaharju, from 1922, which I happened to have by chance, dedicates a whole chapter to trolls. From this book, I shared the divine origin story of trolls, fabricated in the typical half-pagan way of the Finns. As it turns out, trolls are the secret children of Adam and Eve, which God condemned to live underground after Eve wrongfully hid them.
The creation aside, religion is another prominent topic in the book, already given away by the heavenly name of Angel. I dare to say, the writer creates a juxtaposition between chaste protestant tradition and the biological beastly nature of human beings. We were not sure what to make out of this, as the story does not seem to resolve in favor of the other. Although in the case of Mikael, nature takes over.
Those of us who had completed the book agreed that it was an odd but delightful reading experience. Deceptively short with only 214 pages, Sinisalo’s story seemed to contain yet another layer in chapters unwritten. What happened to Mikael in the end? Why did the trolls take him among them? Was Palomita (the human-trafficked mail-order wife of Mikael’s neighbor) rescued? And most importantly, are trolls real and where can we find them?
Did you know that tíc has a dedicated JOBS page to help expats find jobs in the Netherlands, and specifically in and around the Tilburg area?
We get many requests all year round for help with job searches. More and more job searches are done through social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook as well as through the professional networking site LinkedIn. In-person networking is also an important factor in getting a foot in the door. We can help you build your social and professional network through its many activities that bring expats together. (more…)
28.05.2020. Our second Virtual Book Club gathering had members joined in by Zoom. I found it an interesting and different read and was curious to see what others thought of it.
‘Are you happy in your life?’ Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he wakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
While not everyone liked the book – it gave ample opportunity for discussion. (more…)
Not sure what to do with the kids during the summer break? Take them to one of the hundreds of unique, kid-friendly, inspiring and fun museums in the Netherlands!
Did you know that you can gain entrance often at a reduced price or for free with the Museumkaart?
The Museumkaart program has been running since 1981 and now has over 1 million card holders. (more…)