When so much in life denies people a way to feel belonging, when love and compassion seem forgotten, when a search for purpose seems absurd, how have people around the world come to experience strong spiritual faith?
This fall, the Manhattan Library Association, along with Humanities Kansas, will host a series of three lively, deep-reaching BookTALK discussions with the theme: “Faiths in Fiction: World Faiths.” Readers will encounter characters who have shaped their lives through the experience of faith, both as inherited religious tradition, and in personal struggles with doubt, free will and redemption.
Join us for lively discussions. Copies of each month’s BookTALK title are ready now for patrons at the Manhattan Public Library’s second-floor reference desk, and no registration is necessary for the Thursday afternoon events.
James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain” begins the fall season in September. In a semi-autobiographical novel, Baldwin chronicles a 14-year-old boy’s struggle for identity as the stepson of a tyrannical Pentecostal minister of a storefront church in 1935 Harlem. John is supposed to become a preacher like his father, Gabriel, but at 14 he feels morally betrayed and wrestles with rejecting the strict teachings of a family and community that have sabotaged his sense of worth.
Nicholas Shump will lead the discussion at 2 p.m. Sept. 26, in the Groesbeck Room on the second floor of Manhattan Public Library. Nick teaches humanities, history and political science for the Barstow School and the Hybrid Learning Consortium in Kansas City, Missouri. He has taught humanities and western civilization and American studies courses at KU and has served as a volunteer coordinator of adult education in Lawrence.
For October, “Nectar in a Sieve” by Kamala Markandaya relates the story of a peasant woman in developing India. A child bride to a tenant farmer she had never met, Rukmani works side by side in the field with her husband to wrest a living from a land alternately ravaged by monsoon floods, ruinous drought and insect swarms. Yet, she perseveres, meeting changing times and fighting poverty and disaster. Throughout it all, Rukmani never loses her faith in life or her love – and hope – for her family.
Miranda Ericsson will lead the discussion of “Nectar in a Sieve” on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in the Groesbeck Room. Miranda Ericsson is the readers librarian for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, where she specializes in programs for readers and writers. Ericsson earned her master’s degree of library and information science from Emporia State University. In her role at the Topeka and Shawnee Public Library, she leads programs and discussion groups that engage readers and writers.
The last presentation of the fall season is “The Romance Reader” by Pearl Abraham. Abraham, who grew up in a Hasidic community herself, presents the story of Rachel, a girl caught between the strictly-regimented world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and the yearnings of her own heart. Rachel comes to find a more enticing world in the pages of her forbidden paperback books, giving her a window into the larger world she lacked in her limited exposure to secular people. “The Romance Reader” is both a coming-of-age story and a brave, beautifully rendered expose of a hidden, insular world.
Rosemary Kolich will lead a discussion of “The Romance Reader” at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 in Manhattan Public Library’s Groesbeck Room. Sister Rosemary Kolich teaches English for the University of Saint Mary at both the main campus in Leavenworth and the Overland Park campus. Kolich joined the TALK program in 2008.
Humanities Kansas (formerly Kansas Humanities Council) connects communities with history, traditions and ideas to strengthen civic life. Last year, the Kansas Humanities Council supported 610 events in 119 communities across the state, reaching nearly one in six Kansans. “Humanities Kansas is a familiar face with a new name,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive director.