2021 Book Selection
Each year, first-year students at Connecticut College engage in a shared summer reading along with their faculty, staff, and student advisers. The 2021 selection is Interior Chinatown, a novel and National Book Award Winner by Charles Yu.
Interior Chinatown, the 2020 winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, is an allegorical novel that takes place in a building that serves as the residence for several floors of Asian-American families. On the ground floor, a Chinese restaurant is the setting for a police procedural television series, starring a Black male detective and a female White detective. The Asian-American residents are the background actors in the series, alternating between non-speaking and speaking parts, always of minor significance. Yu uses this innovative premise of a screenplay format to highlight the longstanding marginalization of Asians in American culture. Drawing on history, satire, and moving family encounters, he provides a searing critique of the persisting stereotypes and disregard that Asian-Americans have faced since this country’s founding.
Please visit Additional Resources to read book reviews about Interior Chinatown and videos of interviews with the author.
CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including Interior Chinatown (the winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction), and the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (a New York Times Notable Book and a Time magazine best book of the year). He received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications. His most recent novel is Interior Chinatown.
Click here to learn more about Charles Yu.
As part of the One Book, One Region initiative of New London County, author Charles Yu will participate in a live event for the campus to discuss his work in October 2021.
2020 Book Selection
Each year, first-year students at Connecticut College engage in a shared summer reading along with their faculty, staff, and student advisers. The 2020 selections in Crazy Brave, a memoir by two-time US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.
Crazy Brave evokes the terrain and texture of Harjo’s birthplace in the Muscogee Creek Nation, as well as the mythology of her ancestors, tracing her story from childhood in an Oklahoma town to the discovery of her poetic voice as a young adult. Suffering the multiple indignities of racism, poverty, and abuse, Harjo circumvented despair by embracing art, music, and activism. Crazy Brave confronts the long American history of injustice against indigenous peoples, while affirming the power of art to liberate and heal.
Please visit Additional Resources to read book reviews about Crazy Brave and videos of interviews with the author.
Author Joy Harjo is the first Native American to be named US Poet Laureate. She is the winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the PEN USA Literary Award for Nonfiction and the American Book Award. Her nine books of poetry include An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. Click here to learn more about Joy Harjo.
As part of the One Book, One Region initiative of New London County, author Joy Harjo will participate in a live event for the campus to discuss her work early in the fall 2020 semester.
2019 Book Selection
Each year, first-year students at Connecticut College engage in a shared summer reading along with their faculty, staff, and student advisers. The 2019 selection is Hey, Kiddo, a graphic memoir by New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
Hey, Kiddo tells the true story of a young boy growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts. With a mother incarcerated for crimes related to her addiction, and a father he has never known, he is being cared for by two devoted, if irascible, grandparents. Rather than falling into resentment and despair, though, the boy is ultimately lifted by two different kinds of love: the bonds of family and the passion for art. The book’s subtitle (“How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction”) foretells the many twists and reconciliations to follow, but Hey Kiddo’s most evocative images speak compellingly about the life-changing effects of family, creativity, and resilience.
Please visit to read book reviews about Hey, Kiddo and videos of interviews with the author.
Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has published more than thirty books, the first of which was published at the age of twenty-three. He is widely acclaimed for his Lunch Lady graphic novels. He is the two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Awards Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year and has been a finalist for the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Award and National Book Awards 2018 for Young People’s Literature. He resides in western Massachusetts with his wife and children.
As part of the One Book, One Region initiative of New London County, author Jarrett J. Krosoczka will visit campus to discuss his work on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., in Palmer Auditorium.
2018 Book Selection
Each year, first-year students at Connecticut College engage in a shared summer reading along with their faculty, staff, and student advisers. The 2018 selection is Exit West, the fourth novel of the celebrated Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid.
Exit West tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, lovers in an unnamed country that falls under the grip of a violent civil war. Forced to flee, they begin a harrowing journey that takes them to many different temporary places of refuge. Over the course of their migration, the author’s most central focus is on the psychological consequences of their flight – how it shifts the dynamics of their relationship, how they cope with the devastating loss of their former lives, how they must re-make themselves in the new worlds they inhabit. Exit West is an allegorical novel with touches of magical realism that provides a universal message about what migration can teach us about the meaning of home, memory, and human resilience.
Please visit "External Resources" to read book reviews about Exit West and videos of interviews with the author.
Author Mohsin Hamid was born in Lahore, Pakistan. He has studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School and has worked as management consultant. He is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations. He is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including the Aspen Woods Literary Prize for Exit West. Hamid has also been shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and twice for the Man Booker Prize. He resides between Lahore, New York, and London.
As part of the One Book, One Region initiative of New London County, author Mohsin Hamid will visit campus to discuss his work on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m., in Palmer Auditorium.
2017 Book Selection
Each year, first-year students at Connecticut College engage in a shared summer reading along with their faculty, staff, and student advisers. The 2017 selection is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a multi-generational novel that traces the legacy of the African slave trade through the lives of two half-sisters and their descendants.
Although the novel moves forward in time, crossing centuries and continents, it is ultimately a work of retrospective exploration. It challenges the reader to see that insight into our contemporary society and our own identities inevitably lies in grasping the realities of how our ancestors lived. In Ghana in the 18th century, two sisters are separated and raised in different villages. One is taken in marriage by a wealthy English slave trader. The other is sold into slavery and transported to America. Across eight generations, the tendrils of racism weave through the lives of their descendants right up to the present time.
We highly suggest this video in which Gyasi discusses the novel and its main characters.
The author Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a bachelor of arts in English from Stanford University and a master’s in fine arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in New York City. Gyasi’s debut novel was selected in 2016 for the National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" Award, the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Award for best first book and the PEN/ Hemingway Award. It also was named a New York Times Notable Book.