What is a central theme for a book group discussion of The Time of Our Singing?

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The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers is an extremely powerful book about a mixed-race American family of musical geniuses. The family's story is a complex one, intertwined with historically violent and tragic racial struggles of the American past and present. The story takes the reader back and forth through three generations of racial turmoil in America, from the civil rights movement to the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. With race relations in America being an ever-pressing and growing issue, and as race is a major theme in The Time of Our Singing, I believe race to be a great jumping-off point for discourse within a book club setting. The Time of Our Singing was published in 2004, but what would the story have looked like if it had spanned closer to our present day? How would the ever-growing crisis of police brutality and extrajudicial killings of unarmed black men come into play in Powers’s telling of this story? In other words, how can this book be discussed in the present-day context of the deep systemic racism that is present in the United States?

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