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By Donna Seaman

July 8, 2016

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Andrew Carnegie Medal-Winner Discussion Guides

Last week,  Andrew Carnegie Medal -winners Viet Thanh Nguyen and Sally Mann accepted their awards at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. This week, we present you with reading group discussion guides for each book, put together by members of the Carnegie Committee : chair Nancy Pearl, three former members of RUSA CODES Notable Books Council , and three Booklist editors or contributors, including me. Established in 2012, the  Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction  recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. For my interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen, click here,  and for my interview with Sally Mann, click here .

sympathizer2016 Fiction Winner 
The Sympathizer , by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s powerful novel dramatizes the double-mindedness of a sleeper agent navigating both a divided, war-torn Vietnam and a polarized America.

1. What is the significance of the title, The Sympathizer?

2. How does the protagonist’s mixed parentage, his “outsiderness,” anticipate his dual nature and divided loyalties?

3. The novel takes the form of a long confession written by the narrator in prison. How effective is this approach? What quandaries does it raise regarding truth and coercion?

4. In what way, or how accurately, do the scenes about the production of a film about the Vietnam War, a take-off on Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, reflect how Vietnam was actually depicted in American media and culture?”

5. Would you describe The Sympathizer as satire? Perhaps in the vein of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22?

6. The narrator is a spy, a secret agent. Is The Sympathizer an espionage thriller? Or is Nguyen playing with the conventions of a thriller?

7. What impact did American culture have on the Vietnamese refugees as they sought to assimilate in their adopted homeland?

8. When Vietnamese refugees returned home, how do think they were viewed by those who never left?

9. Do you think that younger readers will experience a different impact from this novel than readers who grew up in the Vietnam era?

10. Has The Sympathizer altered your perception of the Vietnam War? If so, how?

 

hold still2016 Nonfiction Winner
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs , by Sally Mann

World-renowned photographer Sally Mann’s memoir and family history is stunningly forthright, lushly textured, and deeply provocative.

1. Were you familiar with the controversy surrounding Sally Mann’s photographs of her young children before you read Hold Still? If you were familiar with those images, how did reading her memoir alter (or not) your view of them?

2. Does Mann’s keen visual sensibility and photographer’s perspective shape her writing? If so, how?

3. What role does Mann’s sensitivity to the natural world play in her telling her life story?

4. How does her family’s living off the land in bucolic isolation fit in with her artistic pursuits?

5. Hold Still is rich in history, both personal and regional. How effective is Mann’s linking of her and her family’s experiences to the wider issues of the South?

6. How evocative it Mann’s use of the human body as a living expression of history?

7. Mann’s relationship with Gee-Gee was quintessentially southern. How does it fit with Sally Mann’s life as an artist and intellectual?

8. What questions do Mann’s photographs and memoir raise about exposing her family’s private life to the scrutiny of the public? Do the stories she tells in Hold Still about making her family portraits clarify issues of permission and collaboration versus exploitation and violation?

9. What is Mann’s most challenging photographic inquiry for the viewer? The most difficult to look at? Why?

10. Do Mann’s back stories about her photographic series deepen your perception of them? Which is more powerful, her images or her writing? Does each benefit from the other?

 

Comments

comments

Posted in: Books and Authors
Tags: adult fiction , Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence , featured , memoir

About the Author: Donna Seaman

Donna Seaman is adult books editor at Booklist. Her radio interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books (2005). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Donna .

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Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

There’s been a lot of discussion among the librarians I know about what to do with middle-schoolers: they just don’t seem to read as much as they used to. I know that here in Chicago, we have a unique perspective on this situation, since our schools run K–8. In my former school system in Maryland […]

By Gundry Rowe

January 18, 2018

0 Comments

Read More →

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

The 2017 Global Read Aloud kicked off yesterday, and I’m here to help. Author and educator Pernille Ripp founded the program as a way to connect students and teachers from different locales around the topics of books. (Think One Book One School or One Book One City, but on a global scale.) Each year, Ripp […]

By Gundry Rowe

October 3, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

Cindy: There have been a number of YA fiction books with the title “Two Truths and a Lie,” but we’ve found a creative, informational book for middle-grade students that reinforces evaluating information for truth. Fake news, anyone? Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive (2017) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson is the first […]

By Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan

September 26, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

Classroom Picks

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

There’s been a lot of discussion among the librarians I know about what to do with middle-schoolers: they just don’t seem to read as much as they used to. I know that here in Chicago, we have a unique perspective on this situation, since our schools run K–8. In my former school system in Maryland […]

By Gundry Rowe

January 18, 2018

0 Comments

Read More →

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

The 2017 Global Read Aloud kicked off yesterday, and I’m here to help. Author and educator Pernille Ripp founded the program as a way to connect students and teachers from different locales around the topics of books. (Think One Book One School or One Book One City, but on a global scale.) Each year, Ripp […]

By Gundry Rowe

October 3, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

Cindy: There have been a number of YA fiction books with the title “Two Truths and a Lie,” but we’ve found a creative, informational book for middle-grade students that reinforces evaluating information for truth. Fake news, anyone? Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive (2017) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson is the first […]

By Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan

September 26, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

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The Booklist Reader

Booklist Publications

American Library Association

Opinion, news, and lists from the book people at Booklist, Book Links, and Booklist Online

  • Home
  • Booklist Online
  • Publishing U
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Advertise
  • Subscribe to Our Free Newsletter!
  • Book Awards
  • Book Groups
  • Book Lists
  • Mystery Fiction
  • Romance
  • Young Adult
  • Children’s Literature
  • Audiobooks
  • Libraries
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By Donna Seaman

July 8, 2016

0 Comments

Read More →

Andrew Carnegie Medal-Winner Discussion Guides

Last week,  Andrew Carnegie Medal -winners Viet Thanh Nguyen and Sally Mann accepted their awards at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. This week, we present you with reading group discussion guides for each book, put together by members of the Carnegie Committee : chair Nancy Pearl, three former members of RUSA CODES Notable Books Council , and three Booklist editors or contributors, including me. Established in 2012, the  Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction  recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. For my interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen, click here,  and for my interview with Sally Mann, click here .

sympathizer2016 Fiction Winner 
The Sympathizer , by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s powerful novel dramatizes the double-mindedness of a sleeper agent navigating both a divided, war-torn Vietnam and a polarized America.

1. What is the significance of the title, The Sympathizer?

2. How does the protagonist’s mixed parentage, his “outsiderness,” anticipate his dual nature and divided loyalties?

3. The novel takes the form of a long confession written by the narrator in prison. How effective is this approach? What quandaries does it raise regarding truth and coercion?

4. In what way, or how accurately, do the scenes about the production of a film about the Vietnam War, a take-off on Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, reflect how Vietnam was actually depicted in American media and culture?”

5. Would you describe The Sympathizer as satire? Perhaps in the vein of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22?

6. The narrator is a spy, a secret agent. Is The Sympathizer an espionage thriller? Or is Nguyen playing with the conventions of a thriller?

7. What impact did American culture have on the Vietnamese refugees as they sought to assimilate in their adopted homeland?

8. When Vietnamese refugees returned home, how do think they were viewed by those who never left?

9. Do you think that younger readers will experience a different impact from this novel than readers who grew up in the Vietnam era?

10. Has The Sympathizer altered your perception of the Vietnam War? If so, how?

 

hold still2016 Nonfiction Winner
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs , by Sally Mann

World-renowned photographer Sally Mann’s memoir and family history is stunningly forthright, lushly textured, and deeply provocative.

1. Were you familiar with the controversy surrounding Sally Mann’s photographs of her young children before you read Hold Still? If you were familiar with those images, how did reading her memoir alter (or not) your view of them?

2. Does Mann’s keen visual sensibility and photographer’s perspective shape her writing? If so, how?

3. What role does Mann’s sensitivity to the natural world play in her telling her life story?

4. How does her family’s living off the land in bucolic isolation fit in with her artistic pursuits?

5. Hold Still is rich in history, both personal and regional. How effective is Mann’s linking of her and her family’s experiences to the wider issues of the South?

6. How evocative it Mann’s use of the human body as a living expression of history?

7. Mann’s relationship with Gee-Gee was quintessentially southern. How does it fit with Sally Mann’s life as an artist and intellectual?

8. What questions do Mann’s photographs and memoir raise about exposing her family’s private life to the scrutiny of the public? Do the stories she tells in Hold Still about making her family portraits clarify issues of permission and collaboration versus exploitation and violation?

9. What is Mann’s most challenging photographic inquiry for the viewer? The most difficult to look at? Why?

10. Do Mann’s back stories about her photographic series deepen your perception of them? Which is more powerful, her images or her writing? Does each benefit from the other?

 

Comments

comments

Posted in: Books and Authors
Tags: adult fiction , Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence , featured , memoir

About the Author: Donna Seaman

Donna Seaman is adult books editor at Booklist. Her radio interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books (2005). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Donna .

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

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Follow the Booklist Reader!

We're not exactly the Vlogbrothers, but we make videos once in awhile!

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  • Popular
  • Recent
  • Comments
  • Archives
  • 2018 National Book Award Winners Announced
  • Best New Books, Week of November 13, 2018
  • Black Friday Deals  a Doorbuster Book Display!
  • LibraryReads Favorites of Favorites 2018
  • Chicago Public Library Announces Best Books of 2018
  • Understanding Immigration and the Refugee Experience through Graphic Novels
  • Best New Books: Week of December 4, 2018
  • Further Reading: Awe-Inspiring Animals
  • The 2018 Bad Sex in Fiction Award Shortlist
  • Understanding Immigration and the Refugee Experience through Picture Books
  • MJ: You failed to include “God is disappointed in you” by Mark Russell; cartoons by Shannon Wheeler.
    “Y
  • marya kurwa: I loved the review . Am going tonsend this to my librarians who are in charge of collection managem
  • Jenny: You’re so lucky that you receive all of these lovely ARCs! I was a book blogger for three years on m
  • Terri Pilate: Are you all fast readers? That many books coming in as ARCs after only 17 days would stop me in my t
  • Teresa Robison: Welcome to my world, book #6! I work with a Teen Prevention program to educate youth about making he
  • Archives:


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  • Tags:


Blogs

Tweets from Booklist

Categories

  • Audiobooks
  • Backlist
  • Book Awards
  • Book Cover Trends
  • Book Groups
  • Book Lists
  • Book News
  • Book Trailers
  • Bookends
  • Books and Authors
  • Books and Movies
  • Childrens Literature
  • Classroom Picks
  • Further Reading
  • Graphic Novels
  • Inside Booklist
  • Libraries
  • Mystery Fiction
  • Romance
  • Young Adult

Classroom Picks

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

There’s been a lot of discussion among the librarians I know about what to do with middle-schoolers: they just don’t seem to read as much as they used to. I know that here in Chicago, we have a unique perspective on this situation, since our schools run K–8. In my former school system in Maryland […]

By Gundry Rowe

January 18, 2018

0 Comments

Read More →

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

The 2017 Global Read Aloud kicked off yesterday, and I’m here to help. Author and educator Pernille Ripp founded the program as a way to connect students and teachers from different locales around the topics of books. (Think One Book One School or One Book One City, but on a global scale.) Each year, Ripp […]

By Gundry Rowe

October 3, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

Cindy: There have been a number of YA fiction books with the title “Two Truths and a Lie,” but we’ve found a creative, informational book for middle-grade students that reinforces evaluating information for truth. Fake news, anyone? Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive (2017) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson is the first […]

By Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan

September 26, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

Classroom Picks

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

Encouraging Middle-Schoolers to Choose Books

There’s been a lot of discussion among the librarians I know about what to do with middle-schoolers: they just don’t seem to read as much as they used to. I know that here in Chicago, we have a unique perspective on this situation, since our schools run K–8. In my former school system in Maryland […]

By Gundry Rowe

January 18, 2018

0 Comments

Read More →

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

Getting Started with the Global Read Aloud

The 2017 Global Read Aloud kicked off yesterday, and I’m here to help. Author and educator Pernille Ripp founded the program as a way to connect students and teachers from different locales around the topics of books. (Think One Book One School or One Book One City, but on a global scale.) Each year, Ripp […]

By Gundry Rowe

October 3, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

Cindy: There have been a number of YA fiction books with the title “Two Truths and a Lie,” but we’ve found a creative, informational book for middle-grade students that reinforces evaluating information for truth. Fake news, anyone? Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive (2017) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson is the first […]

By Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan

September 26, 2017

0 Comments

Read More →

Recent Posts

  • Understanding Immigration and the Refugee Experience through Graphic Novels
  • Best New Books: Week of December 4, 2018
  • Further Reading: Awe-Inspiring Animals
  • The 2018 Bad Sex in Fiction Award Shortlist
  • Understanding Immigration and the Refugee Experience through Picture Books

Archives


Meta

  • Log in
  • Entries RSS
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  • WordPress.org

© 2018 The Booklist Reader. WordPress Theme by Solostream.