Monthly Archives: November 2012

From Manhattan to Mumbai: Wrestling with the Issues of Our Time

by Katherine Boo, author of the 2012 National Book Award-winning Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity (Random House, February 2012)

As jobs and capital whip around the planet, college students will graduate into a world where economic instability and social inequality are increasing and geographic boundaries matter less and less. Unfortunately, globalization and social inequality remain two of the most over-theorized, under-reported issues of our age. My book is an intimate investigative account of how this volatile new reality affects the young people of an Indian slum called Annawadi. Like young people elsewhere, the Annawadians are trying to figure out their place in a world where temp jobs are becoming the norm, adaptability is everything, and bewildering change is the one abiding constant. Continue reading

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Susan Cain, author of Quiet, to speak at UCSB

Susan Cain, whose 2012 nonfiction bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, will speak at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Campbell Hall on Thursday, November 29 at 8 P.M.  Cain’s talk, titled “How to Harness the Strengths of Introverts to Change How We Work, Lead, and Innovate,” will touch on key points from Quiet.

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The Publisher of Soho Press praises The Darkest Child 

A note on The Darkest Child from Bronwen Hruska, Publisher of Soho Press. Her debut novel Accelerated was published by Pegasus Books this year.

I’m very proud to publish The Darkest Child and am confident that in addition to being a stirring narrative read, this book will inspire and provoke student discussions around topics such as race, gender, class and our nation’s complicated history.  Delores Phillips handles the charged issue of entrenched racism with a deft hand. Not only does she brilliantly highlight racism originating with whites—the “standard” narrative of race relations—she also writes stirringly about the complicated relationships within the black community, and the elements therein that proved just as destructive to the advancement of the next generation, sometimes more so than the more highly visible outrages like segregation.

We found this novel in the “slush pile” of unagented submissions in 2002, and it terrifies me to think that this important novel might never have found its way into the world. Stories like Tangy Mae’s are vital to a full understanding of our spotty racial history, as well as the cultural and systemic legacy that lingers even today. I sincerely hope you will consider adopting this book as a significant, nuanced contribution to your reading program.


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Henrietta Lacks’ Son Scheduled to Speak at IU Bloomington

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, David Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks, will speak to the University of Indiana, Bloomington community about the intersection of race and ethics.  Though his mother died in 1951, her cells are widely used in scientific research.  Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 best seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks introduced Henrietta to the world.
Please see IU Bloomington’s press release for more information about David and Henrietta Lacks.

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Ernie Cline, Author of Ready Player One , Electrifies Freshmen at UMass Amherst

Jeanne Horrigan, Director of New Students Orientation at UMass Amherst, recently shared some thoughts about her experience hosting Ernie Cline (Ready Player One) on her campus.  Mr. Cline will be joining us at next year’s Random House FYE Luncheon.  (Click here to register for the event).

“Ernie Cline emerged from a Back to the Future Dolorean to the thunderous applause of over four thousand freshmen at UMass Amherst’s Convocation this year. His address to the Class of 2016 was an entertaining combination of self-depreciating humor and personal reflection.  Ready Player One, the chosen common read book for this year’s new students at UMass Amherst, dealt with the allure of the virtual world of video games and its benefits but also the irreplaceable authenticity of human exchanges in reality. Later on, hundreds of freshmen engaged in common read discussions of this book in small groups with university faculty, discussing everything from the dystopian future to eco-sustainability.  Ready Player One is more than a paperback adventure story; it unites the past and present under an overarching concern about technology’s place in our future.”


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Inspiring Community Involvement with Outcasts United

Warren St. John displays a copy of Outcasts United marked up by an engaged UNF freshman

For the past two years, the University of North Florida has used Outcasts United as their freshmen Common Reading title.  While many professors have integrated Outcasts United into their curriculum – leadership classes, for example, discuss the book from a leadership standpoint –  UNF’s Common Reading program, lead by Professor Leslie Kaplan, has used the book as a catalyst to establish meaningful relationships with several local refugee resettlement agencies.  Over 1,000 UNF students currently help refugees establish better lives in the U.S.

Through resettlement organizations such as World Relief, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities, UNF students currently assist in English classes, mentor families, set up apartments and collect food.  UNF’s most extensive program is through the Honors Program’s Freshman Colloquium class.  Sixty honors freshmen act as mentors to families, meet weekly with children to help with homework, study english, and adjust to American traditions.  Furthermore, all children in the program are invited to UNF for trick-or-treating during Halloween, and for turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.  A final assignment involves students creating a documentary film of the project.  Stay tuned for other ways Outcasts United inspires  social responsibility…

To view the University of Northern Common Reads page please visit:

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