The Tampa Bay Great Books Council broke new ground with this year’s Great Books weekend conference on January 19-21, 2018, with the theme:  Vietnam: Looking Back Through Three Vietnamese Novelists

The conference opened with OLLI-USF Humanities Coordinator Joseph McAuliffe giving a historical overview of the Vietnam era.  Attendees later enjoyed a group dinner of Vietnamese specialties.

The first book up for discussion Saturday morning was “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thank Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

The event concluded with more discussions and a prize raffle Sunday morning.

Here are scenes from the opening discussions…

Brenda Tipps comments on the political attitudes found in her native England during the Vietnam War.

Moderator Kevin Chittim (top center) leads his group through a discussion of “The Sympathizer.
TBGBC Vice President Barbara Brown chimes in as Sarasota’s Mario Sparagama (left), Judy Patterson, and TBGBC President Sara Cohen listen in.


Joel Fyvolent, one of Sunday’s moderators, reminds readers that the interpretation of any novel is necessarily colored by our individual interests and experiences.
Ladi Volicer (center) offers an interpretation of the protagonist’s motivations, while Anne Strozier (left) and Ruth O’Connell listen.
Just down the hall in St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Hilton, Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco at head of table) conducted another group discussion of “The Sympathizer,” with Fay Goldstep, visiting from Canada, offering her observations.