Why have a Common Read initiative?
This program is one way for Queens to engage our campus community in a shared intellectual experience, inspiring curiosity and conversation. As places of learning, universities are uniquely positioned to provide everyone-faculty, students, and staff-with an opportunity to engage with meaningful texts of our time and provide a space for intellectual discourse. A Common Read can provide a shared language and shared experiences across classes, departments, offices, and other "pockets" of how we live and work on campus.
What's going on this year (2014-15)
There are many ways to be involved in 2014-15 Common Read initiative:
- Reading Groups: Faculty , staff, and students are invited to form reading groups
- Class Embedded Activities: Faculty are invited to imagine how The Orphan Master's Son might fit into their courses in fall or spring term. This could range anywhere from assigning the novel as a course text to designing a class activity that examines one of its central topics.
- University-Wide Experiences:
- Spring Convocation: Author Adam Johnson will be the featured speaker on February 10, 2015.
- Film Series: screening of "North Korea: A Day in the Life" (Tues. Oct. 7, 7 pm Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Learning Center) and screening of Frontline's "Secret State of North Korea" (Wed. Nov. 5, 7 pm, Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Learning Center)
This year's section: Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son (2012)
The Queens faculty has selected The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson for the 2014-2015 Common Read program. This NY Times bestseller has received numerous awards and accolades, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The novel is set in modern North Korea and explores a range of issues including identity, politics, citizenship, and power. Here is an excerpt from the Publisher's Weekly Starred Review:
"The story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment-or worse-but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds... In one of the book's most poignant moments, a government interrogator, who tortures innocent citizens on a daily basis, remembers his own childhood and the way in which his father explained the inexplicable: '...we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands.' In this moment and a thousand others like it, Johnson juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope."