2013 Reading Project: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
2012 Reading Project: Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans
by Dan Baum
2011 Reading Project: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
2010 Reading Project: Zeitoun
by Dave Eggers
2009 Reading Project: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Díaz
The 2009 book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2008, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for best novel of 2007. It chronicles the painfully awkward adolescence of an overweight Dominican-American teenager, a hopeless romantic who nurses his frequently broken heart with heavy doses of sci-fi and fantasy. Stuck between two cultures—and saddled with a nasty family curse—Oscar struggles to find his place in the world, with results alternately humorous and heartbreaking. In his New York Times review, Michiko Kakutani wrote that The Brief Wondrous Life is "so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets 'Star Trek' meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West."
2008 Reading Project: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
by Mohsin Hamid
2008's book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, marked the first time that a work of fiction was chosen for the Tulane Reading Project. Hamid's engaging prose and page-turning plot leave the reader pondering themes of national identity and prejudice, American hubris, and the immigrant experience in the post-9/11 world. His protagonist, a young Princeton-educated Pakistani, challenges the "us versus them" mentality that has become so prevalent in American culture. Students explored the book through a series of events including a lecture by author Mohsin Hamid, a performance by Arab-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, and a screening of the acclaimed film Persepolis.
2007 Reading Project: Field Notes from a Catastrophe
2006 Reading Project: Song For My Fathers
2005 Reading Project: Mountains Beyond Mountains*
2004 Reading Project: The Color of Water
by James McBride
A lyrical memoir, The Color of Water presents us with two complex voices and an intertwined narrative. James McBride, an accomplished black musician and writer, recounts his childhood and adolescence as one of twelve mixed-race children of poverty growing up in a Brooklyn housing project. The other voice belongs to Rachel Shilsky, the daughter of a failed Polish rabbi who grew up in the South, fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a church and put twelve children through college. The narratives converge, as Rachel is none other than McBride’s own mother. The Color of Water is an eloquent exploration of the power of race, poverty, religion, and family in America.
2003 Reading Project: West of Kabul, East of New York
2002 Reading Project: Rising Tide
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