USF Book Club: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

While our April meeting is coming up in a couple days, the Book Club had the foresight to pick our May selection ahead of time.

In May we will discuss The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson.

I’m looking forward to this book because folks were raving about it on last year’s summer reading episode of Philosophy Talk, and while I don’t consider myself a philosopher per se, I like novels that are educate as well as inform.

To get The Elegance of the Hedgehog, you can put a hold on Gleeson’s copy, request it through Link+, check it out of the SF Public Library, or check out one of our iPads or Kindle, which are loaded with the book.

We will meet in the Electronic Classroom in Gleeson Library from 12 noon – 1 pm on Thursday May 12, 2011.

In a bourgeois apartment building in Paris, we encounter Renée, an intelligent, philosophical, and cultured concierge who masks herself as the stereotypical uneducated “super” to avoid suspicion from the building’s pretentious inhabitants. Also living in the building is Paloma, the adolescent daughter of a parliamentarian, who has decided to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday because she cannot bear to live among the rich. Although they are passing strangers, it is through Renée’s observations and Paloma’s journal entries that The Elegance of the Hedgehog reveals the absurd lives of the wealthy. That is until a Japanese businessman moves into the building and brings the two characters together. A critical success in France, the novel may strike a different chord with some readers in the U.S. The plot thins at moments and is supplanted with philosophical discourse on culture, the ruling class, and the injustices done to the poor, leaving the reader enlightened on Kant but disappointed with the story at hand. –Heather Paulson, Booklist

Email kbaughmanmcdowell@usfca.edu to sign up for the book club email list.

Hope to see you there!

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