Amanda Wilk, Public Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Amanda Wilk from Haliburton County Public Library, and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
This week, in commemoration of Remembrance Day, Bessie Sullivan, Erin Kernohan-Berning, and I will be sharing some of our favourite titles that deal with the subject of war.
Because conflict and war has been a near constant part of human history, titles dealing with this topic span all time periods, and also touch upon wide reaching subject matter. They shed light on past conflicts, offer cautionary tales of future destruction, and present readers with large questions, and a great deal to think on.
Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Canadian writer Daniel Kalla recently published the sequel to his 2012 title The Far Side of the Sky. In Rising Sun, Falling Shadow it’s 1943 and the Japanese war machine has swallowed up Shanghai. Newlyweds Dr. Franz Adler and his wife, Soon Yi, struggle to keep the city’s only hospital for refugee Jews open.
The Japanese force 20,000 Jewish refugees, including the Adlers, into a one-square-kilometre area in the slums of the city—the Shanghai Ghetto. Soon Yi, a Shanghai native desperate to defend her lifelong home, is tempted into the dangerous embrace of the local Resistance movement, while a mysterious Chinese man brought critically wounded to the hospital may represent an even greater threat. Meanwhile, as the tide of the war begins turning in the rest of the world, the local Nazis maintain a persistent, menacing interest in Shanghai’s Jewish population.
Both these books taught me how appropriately named World War Two was as there seems to be very little of our earth that was not touched by it in one way or another.
Erin Kernohan-Berning: Branch Services Librarian: I’m particularly interested in books that talk about war from a home perspective. While battles have raged on in faraway lands, war-time also affected those families and friends left behind. One book I read recently that deals with the war at home is Ami McKay’s The Birth House. Set in an isolated fishing village in Nova Scotia, The Birth House chronicles the life of Dora Rare, the only daughter in many generations of sons in a ship-building family. Dora comes of age as a midwife during World War I, and while the story’s plot centres on Dora’s struggle and the state of women’s health during that era, the war touches every element of the story: Dora’s brothers and love interest serving in the war, fears of attacks by German U-boats, the white feather society’s public shaming of conscientious objectors, and the Halifax explosion and its aftermath. While the book is not about World War I itself, the war plays an ever-present character in the background, inevitably on the minds of Dora and her friends, affecting mood and outlook throughout the novel.
Amanda: Numerous plays have also been written on the topic of war, from Brecht’s Mother Courage to Shakespeare’s Henry V. A more contemporary example of a play which examines the topic of war is War Horse, which was inspired by a children’s novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, and also has been adapted for film. The library owns both the book and the film, which tell the story of Joey, a farm horse who defied the odds only to be sent off with an officer to fight in France during World War I. This remarkable animal experiences the chaos, heartbreak, and hardship of war from the home front, and front lines of both the British and German armies, providing a unique perspective on the nature of humanity, as seen through an animal’s eyes.
As always, all of the titles mentioned are available to reserve from the library today. Thank you for tuning in to Library Moments here at 100.9 CanoeFM.
*originally aired on 100.9 Canoe FM from November 4th-November 11th 2013