By January 12, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Ann Patchett’s Run and Discussing Race

Last month my book group discussed Ann Patchett’s Run. Before we started our discussion I asked the group how many of them had read Patchett before. We had read Bel Canto years before in my group, but as members come and go, some were there and some were not. Many said that Bel Canto was among some of their favorite books of all time. An auspicious way to start a discussion.

Patchett is a master of subtlety, and in Run she is subtle in her approach to one of the book’s central themes: race. As we came closer to this theme in our discussion the true craft of the writing became clear. Many members thought that race was handled so lightly that it was almost a non-issue in the book. A woman of color in the group said she felt the opposite–she thought that the book was all about race. I found this interesting, and a testament, again, to Patchett’s writing skill.

But it also brought up another subject for me, that being that race is one of the hardest issues to talk about in discussion. This is also evidenced in our popular culture by the debates raging over a new version of Huckleberry Finn. I am wondering how your groups have handled issues of race and which books provided the best discussions? How do we get better about talking about this important topic?

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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