SU selects ‘Kite Runner’ for first-year shared reading
SU selects ‘Kite Runner’ for first-year shared readingJune 28, 2006Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s vision for Scholarship in Action emphasizes the University’s role as a power broker in the knowledge economy, encouraging students to put their learning to work through engagement with the world.
To introduce the University’s new first-year students as a group to this concept, SU has selected “The Kite Runner” (Riverhead Trade, 2004), by Khaled Hosseini, as the centerpiece of the 2006 Syracuse University Shared Reading Program. This is the fourth year for the shared reading program for new students and the second in which all will read the same book.
This year, SU’s choice of book will facilitate a unique new form of community engagement: CNY Reads, the largest “one book, one community” program in New York state, will also use “The Kite Runner” as its 2007 selection in its programs for adult and high-school readers, creating opportunities for collaboration between the program and the University.
“This year’s choice for the shared reading is a powerful text that addresses traditional themes such as coming-of-age and life transitions, set in a context that invites readers to juxtapose difference and common humanity,” says Eric Spina, interim vice chancellor and provost. “We are excited to set the stage for an ongoing conversation within our shared community that will enrich us and connect with many other academic and community events and learning experiences this year.”
The shared reading program, led by Academic Affairs, is part of Syracuse Welcome 2006, the University’s signature orientation program for new students. For information about shared reading and Syracuse Welcome 2006 programming, which is coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Orientation and Transitions Services, visit http://orientation.syr.edu.
A committee of faculty members and professional staff chose Hosseini’s debut novel, published in 2004, after reviewing several books over a period of months. The book tells a story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Afghanistan from the 1970s to the 1990s. Thematically, “The Kite Runner” explores boundaries between ethnic and economic identities, and looks at how cultural pressures force traditional norms on human relationships. It is a story of the role of religious tradition in one’s society and one’s personal odyssey, of displacement and immigration, of the morality of silence.
“This book helps us to reflect on the challenges of living in a diverse community, which are among the big challenges that our students are about to engage as they enter the diversity of the Syracuse community,” says Jerry Evensky, professor of economics in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and faculty liaison to the first-year experience.
The Syracuse University Bookstore is mailing copies of the book to all first-year students, who are expected to read the book before their arrival and to participate in lectures, discussions and related assignments as part of Syracuse Welcome 2006 and throughout the academic year.
The University is also creating several programs designed to use the book to build a sense of community among new students, starting on Friday, Aug. 25, when Tazim Kassam, professor of religion, and Arthur Flowers, professor of English, will address all new students at the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students. This highlight of Syracuse Welcome 2006 will provide a departure point for continued exploration and discussion during the academic year.
CNY Reads, a consortium of cultural, educational and social service organizations headed by the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL), is purchasing print and audio versions of “Kite Runner” for all 30 OCPL branches. For more information, visit http://onlib.org.