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“Stories of Exile” reading groups at S.F. Public Library
The Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial branch of the San Francisco Public Library is one of more than two dozen libraries across the United States participating in the Yiddish Book Center’s “Stories of Exile” Reading Groups for Public Libraries program series. Meant to engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora, the program series will include three books of Yiddish literature in translation paired here in San Francisco with three books by California LGBTQIA+ authors exploring those themes.
The next installment of the series will be the afternoon of Saturday, February 4th through existing book clubs at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial branch library, with discussion of Carolina De Robertis’ novel Cantoras.
From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find each other as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family. In 1977 Uruguay, a military government has crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In an environment where citizens are kidnapped, raped, and tortured, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression. And yet, despite such societal realities, Romina, Flaca, Anita “La Venus,” Paz, and Malena–five cantoras, women who “sing”–somehow, miraculously, find each other and discover an isolated cape, Cabo Polonio, inhabited by just a lonely lighthouse keeper and a few rugged seal hunters. They claim this place as their secret sanctuary. Over the next 35 years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone. Throughout it all, the women will be tested repeatedly–by their families, lovers, society, and each other–as they fight to live authentic lives. A genre-defining novel and De Robertis’s masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. De Robertis has written a novel that is at once timeless and groundbreaking–a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.
All six books in the series grapple with questions of homelands, journeys, identity, and belonging. Librarian-facilitated discussions will offer readers an opportunity to explore each book, and for those participating in more than one discussion across the series, a chance to consider the similarities and differences in perspective and experience revealed across multiple books. The link is to the ebook version, and physical copies can be picked up from the desk at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial branch.
This is an in-person only event.