A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James


My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante

(This month features an exception: members choose to read either book or both books. There will be two discussions at the meeting.)

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – submitted by Valerie Z. – has not read the book

A Brief History of Seven Killings just won the Man Booker Prize and is 680 pp, but don’t hold that against it. The book explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976, but contains a whole universe of ideas beyond Jamaican history. The story is told from many points of view, and, according to many reviews, the characters become real to the reader—to me, the true test of a great book. In addition to the many reviews with high praise, I read an excerpt and got hooked
A cool dimension added to the book is the playlist James assembled of music important to him and to the era—reaching much farther out than just reggae—which you can access free on

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – submitted by Diane Striar – has not read the book

From Vogue: Italian author Elena Ferrante’s gutsy and compulsively readable new novel, the first of a trilogy, is a terrific entry point for Americans unfamiliar with the famously reclusive writer, whose go-for-broke tales of women’s shadow selves—those ambivalent mothers and seething divorcées too complex or unseemly for polite society…  shimmer with Balzacian human detail and subtle psychological suspense. Her talents are in full force in My Brilliant Friend …which follows the relationship between two women: studious, quietly determined Elena, who narrates, and the canny, enigmatic Lila, beginning with their girlhood outside Naples in the aftermath of World War II. The novel is told in retrospect: In the brief prologue, Elena is in her sixties, living in Turin, when Lila’s son calls to inform her that his mother has disappeared along with her belongings. Even her face has been cut out of family photographs. “Lila is overdoing it as usual,” Elena thinks to herself, more exasperated than alarmed. And so Elena decides to write Lila’s story, thus thwarting her friend’s effort to erase herself—and, by extension, Elena. Their stories, we understand, are irrevocably intertwined, as are their certain-to-be-divergent paths; the mystery of their fates is precisely what will drive the narrative.
Amazon Reviews
NY Times
Vogue Review
NPR, Fresh Air