Brookdale and the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) are taking the topics of racism and discrimination head on in this year’s Brookdale READ. The Brookdale READ encourages students and employees to read the same book at the same time and participate in a series of group discussions, guest lectures and other programs centered on important social issues.
This year’s Brookdale READ is based on Julie Otsuka’s award-winning novel “When the Emperor Was Divine,” which follows a family of Japanese Americans as they are confined in internment camps during World War II. A series of events has been scheduled throughout November, concluding with a special guest presentation by Julie Otsuka at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the Robert J. Collins Arena.
Otsuka, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Asian American Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a finalist for the National Book Award, will discuss the novel and its themes and host a Q&A with students, employees and community members. The event is free for students and faculty and $5 for all general public.
Prior to Otsuka’ visit, students and community members are invited to participate in the Brookdale READ by attending a series of events on the Lincroft campus and at the Middletown Township Public Library.
On Monday, Nov. 7. the Middletown Township Public Library will host a reading and book discussion of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Crane. In the book, a little girl, Sadako, dreams of becoming a junior high track athlete only to have her dreams crushed when lingering effects of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima slowly destroy her body. While slowly fading away, she continually makes paper cranes. She passes away, but her classmates and family complete her folding of 1,000 paper cranes.
The final two events before Julie Otsuka’s arrival will be readings discussions of “When the Emperor Was Divine.”
The first will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 11:45 a.m. in the Fort Hancock Room of the Student Life Center. The program will include a brief history discussion led by Dr. Ashley Zampogna-Kurg and a introduction to the book by Brookdale English professor Donna Pope. The discussion will also touch on issues of prejudice and inclusion, both in the 1940’s and today.
The second book discussion will be held at the Middletown Township Public Library on Wednesday Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
This semester a wide range of students and employees have already participated in five Brookdale READ events, including a visit from, N. Chiyo Moriuchi who gave a moving presentation on her parents’ experiences in the internment camps; screenings of the documentary “Unfinished Business” and the film “Something Strong Within”; an electrifying “Live at Lunch” performance by spoken word artist G. Yamazawa; and a student panel discussion titled “Rising Above Hate.”
For more information about upcoming Brookdale READ events, or to reserve your tickets for Julie Otsuka’s talk on Nov. 17, please contact the Office of Student Life and Activities at 732-224-2788 or visit the Chhange events calendar.
– article by Randy McHugh
Student Voices is a regular Newsroom column written exclusively by Brookdale students. If you would like to contribute a column about college life, campus events or any Brookdale-related topic, email the office of College Relations.