By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian
Mark your 2017 calendars – This spring, Manhattan Library Association will partner with the Kansas Humanities Council to bring a series of BOOK TALK discussions to Manhattan, with experts helping to immerse readers in captivating stories. This spring’s topic is “Contemporary Immigration.”
America is a nation of immigrants. Each new wave of immigration brings their own traditions, cuisine, styles, artistic traditions, and cultural histories, all of which feed into the complex mosaic of American life. New immigration has deeply enriched the range of American literature.
Our first selection is Caramelo, or, Puro Cuento by Sandra Cisneros, a semi-autobiographical novel describing the experience of a Mexican-American family. Cisneros weaves themes of family and identity into a sweeping tale of American naturalization in which a young girl, Lala Reyes, navigates a web of family pride and practicality in the 1960s. The caramelo reboso – candy shawl – is Lala’s sole memento of her dead mother. Like the weave of that shawl, Lala’s tale recounts the complex life of a family always striving to put its best foot forward.
Nicolas Shump will lead the discussion on Caramelo on February 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Groesbeck Room at Manhattan Public Library. Nicolas teaches history and English at the Barstow School in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of Kansas, where he has also taught courses on Humanities and Western Civilization and American Studies. He was a volunteer coordinator of Adult Education in Lawrence.
Harbor, the stunning first novel by Pulitzer-winning journalist Lorraine Adams, is the March selection. Aziz Arkoun arrives in America as a stowaway aboard a tanker, swimming to shore in Boston harbor without money, English, or any connections, except the phone number of a shady cousin. One illegality leads to another as Aziz finds himself caught in the web of an anti-terrorism investigation.
Gene T. Chavez will lead the discussion for Harbor on March 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Gene is the founder and president of Chavez and Associates. He received both his M.A. in cross-cultural counseling and his education degree focusing in the philosophical foundations of education from Arizona State University. Gene consults with groups throughout the country on bilingual education and cultural diversity.
Our April choice is Typical American by Gish Jen. Jen’s delightful first novel follows the lives of three young Chinese immigrants. A great deal of humor and sympathy accompanies this tempestuous novel. Yifeng (also known as Ralph), his older sister Theresa, and his friend Helen find themselves trapped in America by the rise of Communism back in China. The three hopeful immigrants strive to build new lives that work in an unfamiliar land. Their stories take them from rags to riches, from city to suburb, from academic ivory towers to “Ralph’s Chicken Palace.”
Michaeline Chance-Reay will be leading the discussion on “Typical American” on April 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Chance-Reay teaches women’s studies and education at Kansas State University, and received her PH.D. in Humanities Education and Master’s in Social Work from Ohio State University. In 1998, her research resulted in an exhibition at the Riley County Historical Museum and an accompanying book, Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives.
Our partner in providing these talks, The Kansas Humanities Council, is a non-profit organization promoting understanding of the history and ideas that shape our lives and strengthen our sense of community.
Everyone is welcome to attend these free discussions, and no registration ahead of time is required. These books will be available for patrons to check-out in December at the Manhattan Public Library.