Programme January June 2014

8th January 2014 – Once we were brothers by Ronald Balson.

Elliot Rosenzweig, a wealthy Chicago philanthropist, is attending opening night at the opera. Ben Solomon, a retired Polish immigrant, makes his way through the crowd and shoves a gun in Rosenzweig’s face, denouncing him as former SS officer, Otto Piatek. Solomon is blind-sided, knocked to the floor and taken away. Rosenzweig uses his enormous influence to get Solomon released from jail, but Solomon commences a relentless pursuit to bring Rosenzweig before the courts to answer for war crimes. Solomon finds a young attorney, Catherine Lockhart, to whom he recounts his family’s struggles and heroisms during the war, revealing to her that he and Piatek grew up as brothers in the same household.

Once We Were Brothers is a contemporary legal thriller and a poignant look back into the lives of small town Poland during World War II.

last man in the tower19th February 2014 – Last man in the tower by Aravind Adiga.

21st Century Mumbai is a city of new money and soaring real estate, and property kingpin Dharmen Shah has grand plans for its future. His offer to buy and tear down a weathered tower block, making way for luxury apartments, will make each of its residents rich – if all agree to sell. But not everyone wants to leave; many of the residents have lived there for a lifetime, many of them are no longer young. As tensions rise among the once civil neighbours, one by one those who oppose the offer give way to the majority, until only one man stands in Shah’s way: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbours – friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators – may stop at nothing to score their payday…

americanah12nd April 2014 – Americanah by Cimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, ‘Americanah’ is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

on-night-in-winter114th May 2014 – One night in winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Moscow, 1945: As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead.

This is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow.

Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?

Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends – and their parents. This terrifying witch-hunt soon unveils illicit love affairs and family secrets in a hidden world where the smallest mistakes will be punished with death.

Based on a true story and featuring real-life historical characters, this heartbreaking novel of passion, intrigue and betrayal takes you deep inside 1940s Russia.

infidel25th June 2014 – Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The brutal murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in 2004 shocked the world. Shot and mutilated by a Muslim fanatic as he cycled to work, it was a stark reminder of the dangers of challenging an extreme Islamic worldview. It also changed the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, van Gogh’s collaborator on the film that had offended his murderer. Born in Somalia and raised a Muslim, she had escaped an arranged marriage and made a new life as a Dutch parliamentarian, championing the reform of Islam and its attitude to women’s rights. She now has twenty-four-hour police protection, but refuses to let that inhibit her willingness to speak out.
Infidel is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s astonishing story.