Thursday, March 27, 2003

Blogfriends, help! help!

I again need to choose a novel for my advanced ESL class, the one with whom I read _Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?_ (with much success). At the level just below this one I taught Salinger's _Nine Stories_.

I have been reading a bunch of novels over the past couple of weeks and I just can't seem to hit on the right one.

Here's what I've read:

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (wonderful book, but too mystical?)
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead (again a wonderful book but the dreaminess of it might be hard for foreign students)
After the Plague -- short stories by T.C. Boyle (too crass and violent even if they do give an "accurate" picture of the USA -- really good IDIOMS, though)
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (to me, this had no narrative urgency)

considered a book called something like The Golems of Gotham and a novel by Y. Blak Moore -- both of these were strikingly unsuitable.

Considering also

The English Patient (although I never actually thought this book was so interesting, I know lots of other people love it)
Sheltering Sky (I adore this book but I'm afraid it's too dark and interior)

And here's what I really like best, although it's a truly SHOCKING book:

Dem by William Melvin Kelley (bitter bitter satire about whitefolks for black readers) but I'm not sure if with all its squirmy discomforts this is the best option for the classroom.

The problem is, I have to decide for sure by MONDAY! I could REALLY use some ideas. Here are the general criteria:

--no translations
--nothing too outrageously violent or sexual, but adult content is OK, of course
--under 300 pages
--vocabulary can be fairly sophisticated but I can't, for example, teach _Lolita_
--must be highly discussable, bring up important issues
--Ideally it would be something that either "speaks to the immigrant experience" (but Sandra Cisneros, for example, would not be challenging enough for them) or that sheds some light on American culture, preferably contemporary.
--Should be well-written, engrossing, and not boring for me! These students tend to be pretty sophisticated. At the same time some colloquial language is desirable, too.
--Doesn't absolutely have to be fiction, BTW. I considered Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickeled and Dimed in America but then decided to let another teacher take it.

I can speed read but I need your suggestions, for which I will be forever grateful, ASAP.

Thank you thank you!

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