Mary Ann Key Book Club

A collaboration with columnist Myron Medcalf, the Mary Ann Key Book Club uses reading as a catalyst for conversation as we attempt to better understand past and current injustices – including systemic racism, other forms of discrimination, and bias that affects marginalized communities.

Current selection

Parable of the Sower

by Octavia E. Butler

About the book

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions.

Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.

Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African American author who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including “Parable of the Sower” (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and “Parable of the Talents” (1995) winner of the Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel published that year. She passed away on February 24, 2006. Her work is now taught in over 200 colleges and universities nationwide.

The book is also available for print impaired persons in accessible audio (both English and Spanish) and in Braille from the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library.

Events

Mary Ann Key Book Club – A Community Discussion of "Parable of the Sower"

Thursday, November 3, 7-8:30 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall

Join columnist Myron Medcalf and Shannon Gibney in a conversation with community leaders JaNaé Bates and Maya Washington. Panelists will discuss “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler, how themes of racism, wealth inequality and hope are reflected in our community, and how individuals and society can dismantle racism and make real change for a better future. 

Seating in Pohlad Hall limited to first 235 attendees. This live, in-person event will be livestreamed and recorded.

Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

 

Mary Ann Key Book Club Discussion – Parable of the Sower

Wednesday, October 12, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Webber Park Library

Join our discussion of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Led by JaNaé Bates.

Registration required.

Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Mary Ann Key Book Club Discussion – Parable of the Sower

Thursday, October 13, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Sumner Library

Join our discussion of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Led by Shannon Gibney.

Registration required.

Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Recent event

Recorded October 6, 2022: The Mary Ann Key Book Club hosts a conversation between Myron Medcalf and Dr. Tarshia Stanley about "Parable of the Sower" and Octavia E. Butler.

Newsletter

Get email updates with book club information, including discussion questions, events, and messages from Mr. Medcalf and others.

Subscribe to the Mary Ann Key Book Club newsletter

You will receive an email confirmation that your sign-up was successful and will not be enrolled in any other newsletters by submitting the form.

Read previous issues

About the book club

The book club was inspired by a Star Tribune column written by Myron Medcalf – the great-great-great-grandson of Mary Ann Key.

“I’m honored to partner with Hennepin County Library to launch the Mary Ann Key Book Club, named after the matriarch of my family, who was a slave in Georgia in the 1850s. Purchased for $1,000 at the age of 14, Mary Ann Key persevered. Her body was in bondage, but slavery never stole the freedom of her heart, mind and soul. This book club is about focusing on the truths of the past, our challenges in the present and the possibilities of the future…” – Myron Medcalf

This program is supported by Friends of the Hennepin County Library. Their generous financial support is helping to provide greater access to print and eBook copies of the featured books.