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Do You See What I See: Growing Up in the Wide World? Contemporary World Literature

In recent years, Americans have been awakened to what, for some, is a more sophisticated world view. Living in a Post 9-11 World has heightened our sense of vulnerability and convinced us that vast oceans do not protect us. Yet even before the 2001 attack, we were beginning to realize that permeable borders and our shattered belief in the melting pot myth would not be enough to understand our world in a new century. The five contemporary novels in this series, all best sellers published in the Twenty-First Century, span four continents and connect us with fictional characters from England, Nigeria, Sweden, Afghanistan, and India. These rich novelistic worlds provide opportunities for insights into the similarities and differences of perspectives among cultures and countries and individual families. The characters in the books will prick and stretch our empathies, for in their worlds we are the others. Yet each also provides a frame for viewing the universal and familiar passage from childhood to adulthood or the ongoing challenge to continue to grow in a world defined by change. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity to better understand ourselves and see our place in the wider world, please join us for this "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma" reading and discussion series. Join us to explore and discover.

Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at [email protected], or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Rooms 211 or 207. (Note the new location of the office in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center.)

The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning January 13 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through March 10. Books, services, and other materials for this series are provided by "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma," a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council. This series was funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


2/24/2008 Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

In this international bestseller, Hosseini explores themes of fathers and sons, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal as well as offers a vivid portrayal of a country and a people enduring decades of war, brutality, and oppression. With the tattoos life inscribes on us, can we find “a way to be good again”?

1/13/2009 Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Both funny and deeply moving, Haddon’s mystery novel launches the series with a fifteen-year-old narrator who perceives the world from his autistic condition, one that cannot tolerate change. To what extent can his viewpoint metaphorically epitomize the inability of seeing beyond our comfort zones, the walls of our own culture?

1/27/2009 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus

Set in a Nigeria saturated with the legacy of colonialism, Adichie develops adolescent Kambili and her fearful uncertainty growing up under the rigid demands of her father and his Christian beliefs. What happens to religion and culture when they are politicized?

2/10/2009 Mikael Niemi's Popular Music from Vittula

The intricacies of social life in an isolated rural area of Sweden come to life through the eyes of best friends, two boys, with hilarious and haunting results. Conflicted about expectations from family, clan, and community, they struggle with their national identity.

3/10/2009 Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake

In this multi-generational novel, Pulitzer-Prize winner Lahiri explores the contradictions, confusions, and divided loyalties that often form the legacies of immigrants and the children born to them in the new country. Main character Amir explores to what extent can he be Indian and American? Can an immigrant’s experience enlarge our own?

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