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One Book, One Chicago Selection Announced

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 4, 2010 4:40PM

"Brooklyn" by Colm Tóibín
Yesterday Chicago Public Library announced "Brooklyn," by Colm Tóibín as its selection for Chicago's citywide book club. The book is set in the 1950s and follows its protagonist Eilis on her emigration from Ireland, where she has family, a sense of being, and a comfortable predetermined life, to her settlement in Brooklyn, where she knows no one. Just as she begins to build a new life on American soil, she's called back to Ireland. She is pressured to stay in Ireland and take up her old life again, and Eilis must decide where her home really lies.

In the upcoming months, expect to see a lot of "Brooklyn"-related events. Author Colm Tóibín, who is an Irish immigrant himself, will be in town in April to discuss his life and work. There's also an online forum for readers both in Chicago and Ireland to discuss the book. Additional events will include the screening of a film about an Irish immigrant, a 1950s fashion showcase, and an Irish Céilí dance performance and instruction.

Like our friends over at Gapers Block, we were a little surprised that 50 percent of this Spring's One Book, One Chicago selection is set in New York. But when it comes down to it, if "Brooklyn" is a good book and gets Chicagoans reading and talking, that's all that really matters. With some universal themes focusing on national identity, homesickness, and the search for belonging, "Brooklyn" has the potential to be a good read. If you'd like to sample the first chapter, The Washington Post has it here.