Nashvillians Again Asked To All Read The Same Book–And It’s A Strange One

Fowler's book was published this May. In contrast, the previous selections ('The Handmaid's Tale' and 'Life of Pi') were both established book club and literature class selections before being tapped for NashvilleReads.

Fowler’s book was published this May. In contrast, the previous selections (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Life of Pi’) were both established book club and literature class selections before being tapped for NashvilleReads.

The last time Mayor Karl Dean asked Nashvillians to all read a book together, it was “Life of Pi,” about a boy trapped in a lifeboat with a tiger. The newest citywide read, announced Monday night, seems to follow the animal theme.

The main character in Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” is a scientist’s child. And her upbringing was an experiment in behavioral psychology.

“Once upon a time there was a family with two daughters, and a mother and father who’d promised to love them both exactly the same.”

One of those daughters was a chimpanzee.

“I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

NPR’s Fresh Air featured this review from book critic Maureen Corrigan in June.

The very premise of the book raises a lot of questions. But the point of the citywide read is to spur discussion-in book groups, at official sanctioned events, and perhaps in “hey have you read it yet?” conversations among friends and neighbors.

This is the third novel chosen since Nashville Reads began last fall.

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