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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MATC-Mequon Discusses Sinclair Lewis’ ‘Babbitt’

Plus: Boswell Book Co. welcomes Chang-rae Lee for ‘The Surrendered’

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Long before Oprah started her signature book club, readers all over the country would gather in groups to discuss their favorite books. Milwaukee Area Technical College-Mequon continues the tradition with a book discussion event of its own on March 17, when MATC instructors David Racer and Terry Thuemling analyze Babbitt, the Sinclair Lewis classic.

Babbitt tells the story of a 46-year-old man who, despite having realized the American Dream, feels trapped and empty. Like other Lewis novels, this story offers his trademark commentary on the negative repercussions of conformist behavior. Receive 15% off this book at Creekside Books in Cedarburg and Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon when you mention the March MATC discussion group.

Another literary work sure to inspire book clubs is The Surrendered by Korean-born author Chang-rae Lee. A compelling story of the ravages of war and its unforgettable effects, The Surrendered is also a stunning portrayal of individual lives that become entwined in heroism, passion and the power of salvation. June Han is only a child when the Korean War ends, a starving fugitive trying to outrun nightmares of the violence. She eventually finds her way to a Korean orphanage where she falls under the spell of Sylvie Tanner, the beautiful yet scarred wife of the orphanage director; however, Hector Brennan, a young soldier who has been emotionally battered by war, vies for Tanner’s affections as well. The Surrendered is an elegant piece of fiction comprised of both love and violence that amplifies the mysteries of relationships and the powerful effect that people can have on one another.

Best-selling novelist Lee authored three acclaimed narratives before writing The Surrendered. His debut novel, Native Speaker, received the American Book Award and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and The New Yorker named Lee one of the 20 best American fiction writers under 40. Lee is an alumnus of Yale and currently directs Princeton University’s creative writing program. Lee visits Boswell Book Co. on Saturday, March 13, at 2 p.m.