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Readwhine group sips amid talk

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.

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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.

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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.


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