College selects unique novel for its summer reading book

SALEM, Va. - Roanoke College has chosen When the Emperor Was Divine, by Julie Otsuka, as the summer reading selection for incoming freshman and transfer students. The World War II-era novel explores the experience of a Japanese-American family whose father is arrested for unnamed suspicious activities and whose mother and children are detained in a U.S. internment camp. The book will be a focus of orientation activities prior to the fall semester.

This is the sixth year the College has selected a summer reading book. A panel of a dozen faculty, administrators and students spent several months reading and discussing about two dozen books before choosing When the Emperor Was Divine. The intention is that incoming students will be introduced to the intellectual life of the college and share a common experience with the campus community.

Panel chairman Dr. Bill Tenbrunsel, associate dean and director of Roanoke College's Center for Learning and Teaching, says that Otsuka's book was chosen "because it concerns an important era in American history, but just as importantly because it is very accessible, deals with immediate personal feelings, and is an appropriate length. We think that students will read this; we hope they'll like it."

Megan Semmelman '11, a student member of the selection panel, says that it is important to choose a book that the students will enjoy reading, but that also has academic discussion possibilities.

Previous summer reading selections include The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert; The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon; Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi; and Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder.

Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 280 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

Released: June 8, 2010
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