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CAT Book Club: November

Oh how the fall is flying by! It’s already November, which means we’re reading two new books here at the CAT book club:

The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti

Horsemen of the Sands by Leonid Yuzefovich, translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz

These two authors have been making waves in their home countries, and thanks to these superb translations we are now able to access their important stories for the first time.

Before we take a look at these stories, however, let’s take a moment to think about our September and October reads. In the matter of two short months we’ve already read FIVE books from Taiwan, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, and Argentina. Here at the Center, we’ve hosted several of the books’ authors and translators for enlightening conversations, and we recently sent Kim Sagwa on a seven-city tour of the United States to promote Mina. It’s been a whirlwind! That’s why, before moving forward, we wanted to quickly revisit the books we’ve read so far. Take a look at some conversations you may have missed:


The Order of the Day

Éric Vuillard
Translated from French by Mark Polizzotti

Winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt, The Order of the Day takes a behind-the-scenes look at the events leading to the annexation of Austria in the years before World War II. With all the conversations these days about the rise of extremism worldwide, this book feels particularly important. In a statement, Other Press’s publisher Judith Gurewich said the book “feels like a retroactive replay of how power gets stolen when blackmailers and thugs are in the running.”

An account of the manipulation, hubris, and greed that together led to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria brilliantly dismantles the myth of an effortless victory and offers a dire warning for our current political crisis.

Éric Vuillard will join us on November 7 at San Francisco’s Jewish Community Library to discuss the book.


Horsemen of the Sands

Leonid Yuzefovich
Translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz

In a Soviet elementary school, a bombastic teacher lectures his young students on traffic accidents and family separation, unwittingly stirring an emotional crisis. A lost wallet, an office fling, an upset stomach—the minutiae of life unveil the private tragedies at the heart of a school community.

A world away, an old herdsman entrances a young tank commander with the legend of Baron Ungern, the real-life White Russian officer who conquered Mongolia. A foggy epic unfolds, a tale of faith and revenge centering on a mysterious amulet, said to make the wearer invincible. From the dim of the classroom to the vast Mongolian steppe, Leonid Yuzefovich’s masterful novellas The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands drill straight to the core of human emotion. These Russian parables illuminate the fears, passions, and ambitions beneath the grandest acts and the tiniest gestures.

Award-winning translator Marian Schwartz will join us for an event at Green Apple Books on the Park on November 15.