Book Club on Ellis Island and W, Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec
June’s book club picks are Ellis Island (ed. New Directions Publishing, trans. by Harry Mathews) and W, or The Memory of Childhood (ed. Verba Mundi, trans. by David Bellos), both by Georges Perec. The conversation will be moderated by Sandrine Butteau and Adam Hocker.
Georges Perec, employing prose meditations, lists, and inventories (of countries of origin, of what the immigrants carried), conjures up in Ellis Island the sixteen million people who, between 1890 and 1954, arrived as foreigners and stayed on to become Americans. Perec (who by the age of nine was an orphan: his father was killed by a German bullet; his mother perished in Auschwitz) is wide-awake to the elements of chance in immigration and survival: “To me Ellis Island is the ultimate place of exile. That is, the place where place is absent, the non-place, the nowhere… Ellis Island belongs to all those whom intolerance and poverty have driven and still drive from the land where they grew up.” Ellis Island is a slender Perec masterwork, unique among his many singular works.
W or The Memory of Childhood is a narrative that reflects a great writer’s effort to come to terms with his childhood during the Nazi occupation of France.
Albertine Members will receive the Zoom link via email on the day of the book club.
The Albertine Book Club is free and open to Albertine Constellation members. Speakers of French and English are both welcome. For more information on how to become an Albertine member, click here.