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One Book, Two Cities?

December 3, 2013 by Reader's Connection

Mayor Greg Ballard appeared at Central Library Tuesday morning to announce the beginning of our “One Book, Two Cities” program. 

We are joining our Sister City Cologne in reading Eva Menasse’s novel Vienna. Free copies of the book will be given out, as long as they last, at library branches; and there are copies to check out.


I’m only halfway through the book, myself, and have more questions than answers, but here are some links that may be of help.

If you want to read a review of the novel, I enjoyed Patrick Schabe’s review on Pop Matters. Don’t read it if you don’t want to learn about what happens in the book; but Schabe has something interesting to say about how the novel turns the Holocaust into

the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room.  Instead of retelling the tale of gas chambers and mass graves, these facts of the Holocaust are taken as understood and are for the most part left out entirely.  Rather than concentrating on those events, Vienna is primarily the story of a family and its generation-spanning quest for identity, —one with the Holocaust as the black hole at the center of its galaxy, pulling its characters into orbit around the dark heart of its gravity.

If you’re disturbed by the absence of a visual family tree in the book, have a look at the multipage tree that Cologne readers have put on the Sister Cities blog. I’m intrigued rather than put off by the fact that the descriptions of characters are in German. On the uncle’s page, for instance, I see missglückte adoption “Mimi” and–having read that part of the story–I already know what is meant before I put missglückte into the Google Translator.

blogtransThough this doesn’t affect the family tree, Google Chrome users may see a Translate button at the top of the blog. It seems to have gone away at the moment. Some of the Cologne contributors have already translated what they’ve written into English.

Here’s a link to discussions of Vienna that are scheduled at library branches, early next year.

And since the novel is concerned with family history, we’ve scheduled programs which relate to that theme. The first one listed, with Josh Taylor, will occur only once; but the other two will be repeated at several branches.

One Book, Two Cities: Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends with Josh Taylor
One Book, Two Cities: Writing Your Family History
One Book, Two Cities: Preserving Family Photos – From Daguerreotype to Digital

Our thanks to Mayor Ballard, to the bloggers of Cologne, to the Library Foundation, to the Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund, and to the BMO Harris Bank for helping to make this program possible. Let the international read begin!


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