First-year Common Reading for the Class of 2020 is Loving Day by Mat Johnson.
What happens when you are suddenly not the person you always thought you were? Warren Duffy, the first character we meet, has been going about life as a recently-single American black man living abroad. When he returns to his hometown, he is suddenly confronted by the knowledge that he has a daughter and is challenged to acknowledge that he is also half white. When he finds that he is the father of a girl who acknowledges only her Jewish heritage, he sets forth to educate her about being black. Their subsequent journey of relationships and identity development resonates with anyone who has ever been forced to reflect on the question, "Who am I?"
Loving Day was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. Notable reviews have included comments such as:
"Loving Day is about being blackish in America, a subject about which Johnson has emerged as satirist, historian, spy, social media trickster (follow him on Twitter) and demon-fingered blues guitarist. .. Johnson, at his best, is a powerful comic observer [and] a gifted writer, always worth reading on the topics of race and privilege.'" Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Hilarious and touching new novel about family, identity and what it means to truly love other people ... The disasters make us who we are, and the results can sometimes be amazing-as amazing as this beautiful, triumphant miracle of a book." NPR
Over the summer of 2016, the Class of 2020 will read the book and begin to reflect on the important topics raised by its narrative. Once again, we will ask first-year students to write essays in response to the reading, based on an assignment prompt developed in partnership with the Writing Across the Curriculum Council. The essays will be available to both the book discussion leaders and Foundation Seminar instructors.
The Class of 2020 will receive their books in a summer mailing along with instructions on writing and submitting an essay in response to the reading. Essays will be due in mid-August. During New Student Orientation first-year students will have the opportunity to meet in small groups with other members of the Class of 2020 to discuss the book with professors, staff and upperclass students.