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The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula…

The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo (2003)

by Paula Huntley

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178566,644 (3.96)23
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    The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: The book read by the Hemingway Book Club of Kosova.

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Book club # 1 read [Reading Lolita in Tehran] and the very next day Book Club # 2 was discussing this work. I much preferred this one.

I kept reading passages aloud to my husband - because it was so like our own experiences in Sarajevo. Very interesting to read, but not much for discussion. Still, I'm really glad I read it. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 12, 2016 |
I enjoyed this touching memoir of Huntley's year as an ESL teacher in Kosovo, which followed close on the heels of the 1999 genocide. As a person who lived in Kenya for six months in 1994, I identified with her journey of self-discovery as she developed extraordinary relationships with her students in the midst of extreme poverty and culture shock. ( )
  jlcarroll | Mar 10, 2011 |
Huntley's husband decided to take a one year leave of absence to go to Kosovo to help with the legal system. She took a brief TESL course so that she could teach English to persons desiring to learn. She found a used copy of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea which turned out to be one of the best teaching tools because it provided a good springboard for discussion, giving the class more of a "club" feel. Huntley has utilized the journal that she kept during the time she spent in Kosovo to tell the story of her time there. In it we see a glimpse of what life was like, not only for Americans living there in the days after the revolution, but also for the locals. We see the threat of more war as well. It's a touching story. The author has provided a list of organizations where persons may volunteer Overseas service. Many persons will be inspired to do just that as there are some inspiring stories in its pages. There's also a follow-up interview with the author. ( )
1 vote thornton37814 | Jan 8, 2011 |
Paula Huntley calls her memoir in journal form an "accidental book". It grew out of the journal she kept during her eight months in Kosovo, and the emails she sent to her friends who forwarded them to their friends, finally coming to the attention of an agent.

Huntley's adventure began when her husband, Ed, took a leave of absence from his work to volunteer with the American Bar Association's Central and Eastern European Law Initiative to help with the formation of Kosovo's legal system. Huntley took a TESOL training course and, shortly after the couple's arrival in Kosovo, she was hired to teach intermediate English at a private English language school. Huntley soon became a mentor for the students in her class, and she devoted additional hours to individual tutoring, conversational practice, and, eventually, a book club in which the whole class participated. Huntley chose Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea for the club's first book simply because it was the only English-language book that was available. It was a fortuitous find. Hemingway's spare writing style was suited to her students' level of English, and the book's theme of persistence in the face of adversity resonated with the ethnic Albanians who had survived persecution and the terrors of the recent war in Kosovo.

Huntley's journal entries tell a complete story from the couple's arrival in Kosovo; finding a home to rent; Ed's legal work; their exploration of the capital city; the formation of friendships with their landlords, Ed's colleagues, and Paula's students; the gradual revelation of the students' wartime experiences; and the bittersweet goodbyes when Ed and Paula returned to the U.S. Huntley compared their experience with that of many of the internationals in Kosovo, who "seem[ed] to be a melancholy lot." She attributed the difference to the time she and Ed spent making friends among the local Albanians, while "after working fifty- to sixty-hour workweeks, [the internationals] escape for long weekends in Greece or Vienna whenever they can, and they seek each others' company in restaurants almost every night."

Huntley writes with intelligence, empathy, and, above all, humility. I've been blessed with opportunities to travel internationally, to live in another country and to experience different cultures, so I could relate to Huntley's experiences in a new place and culture. Before I read this book, I knew almost nothing about the war in Kosovo and the conditions following the war. The book filled a gap in my knowledge of the world. The main weakness in Huntley's story is one that she recognized. In the eight months she spent in Kosovo, she never met a Serb. She writes "I have gathered many pieces of the tragic puzzle that is Kosovo, but the picture could never be complete without the pieces held by Serbs."

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in international volunteer service, in teaching English as a second language, or in learning about the Albanian experience of the war in Kosovo and its aftermath. ( )
6 vote cbl_tn | Oct 25, 2010 |
No, with killing and bombings and trash dumped in the street and racial hatred, Kosovo doesn't sound like a great place to visit. But when Paula Huntley's husband was sent to Kosovo to help establish a legal system, Huntley impulsively decides to accompany him and later jumps into teaching a group of Kosovo Albanians English. Unexpectedly, Huntley falls in love---with the country, with its people. Yes, I'd heard of Kosovo, but I doubt I'd have been able to write a coherent essay explaining much about the conflict there prior to reading this book. I recommend this book. In some ways, it reminded me of Reading Lolita in Tehran. But can we self-centered Americans ever read too much about areas of the world where people don't spend most of their day at the mall or playing Nintendo? ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
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All of us feel this from the cradle, and know, in some sense, that all the significant movement we ever take is internal. -- Pico Iyer
For my husband, Ed Villmoare, who took us to Kosovo

For my students and members of the Hemingway Book Club of Kosova, who taught me so much

For all the people of Kosovo/Kosova who struggle for peace

And in memory of my beloved father, Paul Bowlin
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Last week I found a copy of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea--probably the only one in the country--and had copies of it made for everyone in the class.
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Paula Huntley's journal of her experiences teaching English as a second language to a group of Kosovo Albanians in Prishtina. Her students formed a book club, and the first book read was Hemingway's Old man and the sea.

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