BOONE, N.C.—All incoming first-year students at Appalachian State University will receive a copy of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel “One Amazing Thing” during summer orientation as part of the university’s Common Reading Program for the 2017-18 academic year.
Since 1997, new students have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to Appalachian. The Common Reading Program helps establish a common intellectual experience among first-year students, helping them develop a sense of community on campus and introducing them to academic life at Appalachian.
“We are enthused about the ways this book will engage the incoming first-year students,” said Dr. Martha McCaughey, director of the Common Reading Program. “From dialogue during Welcome Weekend and seeing the book’s author to discussions in their First Year Seminar and events throughout the year, the common reading will give first-year students an opportunity to experience a diversity of student viewpoints.”
Appalachian’s Common Reading Committee, led by McCaughey, selects the book incoming students will read each year. Recent selections have included “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson, “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, “Clapton’s Guitar” by Allen St. John and “American Dervish” by Ayad Akhtar.
“One Amazing Thing” (Hyperion, 2010) is about nine people from different backgrounds who become trapped together by an earthquake for days, using storytelling to help them survive while they hope and pray for rescue. The book offers lessons for bridging cultural and ethnic diversity through storytelling; prompts discussions about prejudice, cultural misunderstanding, alienation and interpersonal communication; and offers inspiration for overcoming life’s obstacles. Visit http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/books/#/books/one-amazing-thing to read a sample of “One Amazing Thing,” along with excerpts of reviews.
As with Common Reading authors of past years, Divakaruni will speak on campus at Black and Gold Convocation. The 2017 Convocation, which is open to the public, will be on Aug. 21. She will appear at other events that day as well, including a discussion with faculty, a book reading and book signing. Event details will be announced soon at https://commonreading.appstate.edu.
Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, students will remain engaged with the themes of “One Amazing Thing” during their First Year Seminar classes and through programming around the book. The programming will include an art exhibition and a live storytelling event, in which students will be encouraged to share stories of “one amazing thing” from their own lives.
Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her stories explore women, immigration, history, myth, magical realism and diversity. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and included in over 50 anthologies, including “The Best American Short Stories,” the “O. Henry Prize Stories” and the “Pushcart Prize Anthology.”
Divakaruni’s books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus- and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays.
Divakaruni lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and she blogs at http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/blog.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.