Seniors Book Club November Selection

ForgivenessThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, November 14 in the second floor Training Room to discuss this year’s winner of Canada Reads, the memoir Forgiveness : a gift from my grandparents by Mark Sakamoto.

About the book …

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean traded his quiet yet troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada for the ravages of war overseas. On the other side of the country, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their pleasant life in Vancouver starting to fade away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ralph found himself one of the many Canadians captured by the Japanese in December 1941. He would live out his war in a prison camp, enduring beatings, starvation, electric feet and a journey on a hell ship to Japan, watching his friends and countrymen die all around him. Mitsue and her family were ordered out of their home and were packed off to a work farm in rural Alberta, leaving many of their possessions behind. By the end of the war, Ralph was broken but had survived. The Sakamotos lost everything when the community centre housing their possessions was burned to the ground, and the $25 compensation from the government meant they had no choice but to start again.

Forgiveness intertwines the compelling stories of Ralph MacLean and the Sakamotos as the war rips their lives and their humanity out of their grasp. But somehow, despite facing such enormous transgressions against them, the two families learned to forgive. Without the depth of their forgiveness, this book’s author, Mark Sakamoto, would never have existed.

Author website

Author biography

Forgiveness on Canada Reads

A Maclean’s interview

A CBC Books interview

A National Post book review

A Ripple Effects Blog book review

A CBC Q Radio interview with Mark Sakamoto and Joy Kogawa

Mark Sakamoto about “Where I Write”

“Why Mark Sakamoto’s father got emotional reading his son’s memoir”

Architect Raymond Moriyama on Internment

Mark Sakamoto on YouTube

A Globe and Mail article by Mark Sakamoto

Monday Evening Book Club November Selection

Boat peopleThe Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, November 12 in the second floor Training Room to discuss The Boat People, a novel by Sharon Bala.

About the book …

The Boat People is an extraordinary novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage only to face the threat of deportation amid accusations of terrorism. When a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war reaches Vancouver’s shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the “boat people” are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks–and that these terrorists now pose a threat to Canada’s national security. As the refugees become subject to heavy interrogation, Mahindan begins to fear that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son’s chance for asylum. Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis”–Provided by publisher.

Author website

Sharon Bala and Canada Reads 2018

An Interview with Sharon Bala

Sharon Bala on YouTube

Discussion Questions

Book review in The Tyee

Kirkus book review

MV Sun Sea incident (2010)

The Guardian article (2010)

The Tyee Opinion article (2010)

National Post article (2017) 

Ocean Lady Incident article

MV Sun Sea on YouTube

Komagata Maru indident (1914)

Komagata Maru on YouTube