Every year, California State University, Northridge staff and faculty choose a Freshman Common Read that encapsulates the current cultural climate, to inspire and encourage students to engage in meaningful and moving conversations.
For the 2019-20 academic year, CSUN officials are inviting members of the campus community to discuss “The Far Away Brothers,” a book that explores two brothers’ tumultuous journey to America from El Salvador.
“This book is timely. It does a really good job of showing two brothers’ specific story, while also weaving in a broader perspective of immigration,” said Susanna Eng-Ziskin, director of the Freshman Common Read. “It can be difficult for people to talk about immigration, but not talking about something this important can do more harm than good.”
“The Far Away Brothers” will appeal to a wide variety of departments across campus, according to the office of CSUN’s Academic First Year Experiences. The story follows identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador’s violence to build new lives in California. Themes found in the book include: immigration, belonging, resilience, mental health, adolescence, education and family.
The annual book selection and common-read experience is especially useful for first-year students, to promote and facilitate initial conversations with peers across campus, Eng-Ziskin said.
“It really helps to engage our campus community when more faculty, staff and students read the book,” she said. “It is a shared intellectual experience. In addition to the selection criteria we have, I always hope to choose a book that can help foster empathy in our students, and I believe ‘The Far Away Brothers’ accomplishes that.”
The campus conversation around “The Far Away Brothers” will commence about two weeks after the start of the new academic year when the author, Lauren Markham, speaks at the annual New Student Convocation, at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 on the Delmar T. Oviatt Library lawn.
CSUN’s Freshman Common Read dates back to 2007. Each year the
book is used as a textbook for students in University 100, the Freshman Seminar and functions as an opportunity for open community discussions.
For more information on this year’s Freshman Common Read, visit: https://www.csun.edu/undergraduate-studies/academic-first-year-experiences/common-read.