February 13, 2013

On the Same Page

The Jones Library is holding its first "On the Same Page" community reading program, featuring the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.  The entire Amherst community is invited to read the book and participate in the related programs.

"On the Same Page - Amherst" is designed to bring the local community together, reading the same book and encouraging discussion and communication about the book and the themes it contains.  Intended to be an annual event, "On the Same Page – Amherst" will explore a different book each year to include a variety of themes, topics, genres, and writing styles. 

A variety of programs will be offered to enrich the reading experience of this award winning novel and to encourage dialog about the themes the novel presents, which include race, the immigrant experience, and social class.  Programs will include a screening of Latinos Beyond Reel, a documentary that examines how Latinos are portrayed in the media; “Reflections on the Immigrant Experience in Amherst," a panel of immigrants sharing their experiences moderated by Lynne Weintraub, coordinator of The Jones Library English as a Second Language Program; book discussions led by Barry O’Connell, professor of English at Amherst College; and a program exploring the meaning of race by Alan Goodman, professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College.  Please check The Jones Library website atwww.joneslibrary.org for specific information about dates and times for these programs. 

Copies of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao can be signed out from The Jones Library and branches, requested and checked out from the C/W MARS library catalog, or purchased at Amherst Books or Food for Thought Books in Amherst.

"On the Same Page – Amherst" will culminate in an author appearance to be held on Monday, March 11, at 7 pm at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium.  Junot Díaz will speak about the book and the various themes he explores in his writing.   Free tickets will be available at the Jones Library after February 20.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize, as well as being the fiction winner of the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award.  It tells the story of Oscar, a likeable but overweight New Jersey ghetto nerd, who aspires to be a great fantasy writer and to fall in love.  But these dreams may never come true, due to the fukú, the supposed curse that has followed several generations of his family in the Dominican Republic.  While exploring mature and controversial themes, the writing style and language of this book brings the reader to the urban streets of this immigrant neighborhood and uses a mixture of English and Spanish to capture the true flavor of the environment.

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award.  A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For further information about "On the Same Page - Amherst," please contact Janet Ryan at413/259-3223.