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Feedback on Book Finalists for Life of the Mind

 

The Life of the Mind book should meet these criteria:

  • Global – Exposes students to international cultures, people or issues
  • Transition – Represents an aspect of transition that students can draw from
  • Current – Relevant to current events in our society
  • First-Year – Appealing to first-year students
  • Community – Appealing to the greater Knoxville and UT community
  • Program – Creates potential programmatic opportunities in Knoxville or UT community


Book Summary: You Will Not Have My Hate

On November 13, 2015, Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed by terrorists while attending a rock concert at the Bataclan Theater in Paris, in the deadliest attack on France since World War II. Three days later, Leiris wrote an open letter addressed directly to his wife’s killers, which he posted on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his seventeen-month-old son’s life be defined by Hélène’s murder. He refused to let the killers have their way: “For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom.”

Leiris tells the full story of his grief and struggle. You Will Not Have My Hate is a remarkable, heartbreaking, and, indeed, beautiful memoir of how he and his baby son, Melvil, endured in the days and weeks after Hélène’s murder.

Strengths of this Choice

(Meets Criteria, Programming & Discussion Opportunities)
  • Book exposes students to universal themes of compassion in a global society.
  • A fast-paced, engaging read with an interesting cross-cultural background.

Author Info: Antoine Leiris

Antoine Leiris is a journalist in Paris, and a former cultural commentator for France Info and France Bleu. You Will Not Have My Hate is his first book.

 

 

 

 

Book Summary: The Underground Railroad

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Strengths of this Choice

(Meets Criteria, Programming & Discussion Opportunities)

  • McClung Museum plans to present “For All The World to See” exhibit in 2018. Will coincide nicely with this book choice.
  • Opportunity to bring a Pulitzer Prize winning author to campus.

Author Info: Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award. He has also written a book of essays about his hometown, The Colossus of New York, and a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle. A recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

Book Summary: Behold the Dreamers

One of the greatest things a novel can do is to raise empathy in a reader. Behold the Dreamers does that slowly and surely, as Mbue tells the story of Jende Jonga, his wife Neni, and their six-year-old son. Jende has arrived from Cameroon, and after a stint working as a dishwasher he lands a job as the driver for Clark Edwards, an executive who is reaping a fortune at the soon-to-be doomed Lehman Brothers. Jende is poor, living in Harlem, but with his new job he is able to move his wife and son to New York—he feels he is on the fast track to his American dream. Clark is rich, but has troubles of his own, and conversations in the car—private ones between Jende and members of the Edwards family, talks overheard on cell phones—begin to reveal these fissures. In this wonderful debut novel, we watch events unfold for both families in ways that suggest the American dream might be more fragile than advertised. Mbue is a master of presenting a scene and allowing the reader to see between the lines; the result is the thrill of feeling that, for one of those rare times, we might be able to accurately imagine what it’s like to be someone different from ourselves. –Chris Schluep, The Amazon Book Review

Strengths of this Choice

(Meets Criteria, Programming & Discussion Opportunities)

  • A fast-paced, engaging read with an interesting cross-cultural background.
  • Offers the opportunity to collaborate with Knoxville Immigrant Community groups.

Author Info: Imbolo Mbue

IMBOLO MBUE is a native of the seaside city of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for more than a decade, she lives in New York City.

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS, her critically acclaimed debut novel, was named by The New York Times and The Washington Post as one of their Notable Books of 2016. It was also named as a Best Book of 2016 by NPR, Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The St. Louis Dispatch, and The Washington Post called it one of the Totally Hippest Novels of the Year.

Book Summary: In the Country We Love

Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just 14 years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the US, Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with bestselling author Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over.

Strengths of this Choice

(Meets Criteria, Programming & Discussion Opportunities)
  • Book discusses first-generation student transition to college.
  • Offers the opportunity to collaborate with Knoxville immigrant community groups.

Author Info: Diane Guerrero

Diane Guerrero is an actress on the hit shows Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. She volunteers with the nonprofit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, as well as with Mi Familia Vota, an organization that promotes civic involvement. She has been named an Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization by the White House. She lives in New York City.

 

 

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