October 2020 Book Club Report: Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone

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October Translated Literature Book Club Meeting

On the last Saturday of October, we held our third book club meeting at Lowercase to discuss German writer Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone.

As with our previous meetings, the cafe was almost full when we arrived. Thankfully, though, we got seats for four at a round table soon after. Lesson learnt: a fairly large round table might not help facilitate small group meetings very well.

Most of us agreed that the pace of Go, Went, Gone was slower than we would like; two of us paused mid-way and caught up with other books before coming back to it again, while one of us has yet to complete reading the book.

That said, we had very meaningful discussions about refugees, approaches to cross-cultural discussions, the European/German identity, and so on.

Here are some of the questions that arose during our discussions:

  • How does Richard’s approach to the refugees reflect his identity as a German who was born and raised in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell?

  • How do we make sense of foreign cultures and conduct cross-cultural dialogues?

  • How did Erpenbeck’s extensive interviews with refugees shape her storytelling?

  • Are refugees visible here and abroad?

  • What sparked the change in Richard from his living a comfortable, if uninteresting, life as a retiree to becoming interested in the refugees?

November Book Club Selection 

For the month of November, we’ve decided to read the late Japanese writer Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human

If you’d like to join us to exchange thoughts on No Longer Human, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more details about our November meeting!

*Harriett Press’s Translated Literature Book Club is a monthly book club that meets to exchange thoughts on a translated book selected for the month. Anyone is welcome to join us!⁠ Find out more about book club meetings by following us on Facebook and Instagram!   


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