An interview with Geoff Silberman, one of the founding members of the Readwhine Book Club.
How did your club gets its name? I think it was because we bring wine and snacks. That's where the little pun comes from. After a few glasses of wine, it seems clever and cute.
What are you reading this month? The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I by Ben Macintyre.
How long has your club been together? Since September 2002. We're a group of friends and neighbors from the Clarksville, Columbia and Ellicott City areas. We meet at our house in Clarksville.
Does the club favor one type of book over another? It's mostly fiction. We've read 12 to 14 books, and only two have been nonfiction. We have a fun way of nominating a book. Anyone can nominate one. Then, we go around the room for one-sentence descriptions. We have two rounds of voting. In the first round, each person gets two votes on different books. The second round is a sudden-death runoff for the top two vote-getters. There's one vote apiece for each member. The selection process can sometimes take half an hour.
What books have received top votes in your club? Brick Lane by Monica Ali; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; and Empire Falls by Richard Russo.
What kind of story is Brick Lane? It's a story of Bengali immigrants to England told through the eyes of a woman, Nazneen, who is from one of the provincial villages in Bangladesh. She is brought to England for an arranged marriage. The book is a kind of story of her emancipation. Nazneen comes as a very submissive and circumspect woman who reveres her new husband. As his hopes and dreams are dashed one by one and he goes into a decline, Nazneen undertakes a journey of the discovery of her own personal strength. Meanwhile, at the same time, Nazneen's sister is eking out a living in a brutally repressive patriarchal culture in Bangladesh. Her life is being revealed in a series of letters to Nazneen. It's an artful literary device. The story is told against the backdrop of 9/11, and it's a little tableau of Muslim life in Western society. It's a really powerful piece of fiction.