Washtenaw Reads Author Event | Michelle Kuo

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.

Homegoing: A Conversation with Yaa Gyasi | Washtenaw Reads 2018 Author Event

2018 Institute for the Humanities Jill S. Harris Memorial Lecture

The Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan will host a conversation with Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing (2016), the 2018 selection for Washtenaw Reads.

Homegoing tells the stories of two West African half-sisters and their descendants. One sister, Esi, is captured and brought to the Americas as a slave; the other sister, Effia, stays in Africa and marries a British slaver. Over the course of seven generations, Gyasi illuminates the legacies of slavery and the wide spectrum of colonial African and African-American experiences.

Each of the novel's fourteen chapters centers on the life of a person descended from Effia or Esi. Through these stories, Gyasi narrates their every day lives, as well as their roles in major historical events. The novel begins in the late eighteenth century and ends in the present day, so that by the end we feel the full weight of history behind her characters.

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and came to the United States as a child. She is a graduate of Stanford and received her Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2016, she was chosen for the National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" award. Homegoing, her debut novel, has been nominated for the several awards and won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in 2017.

About Jill S. Harris: The Jill S. Harris Memorial Endowment was established in 1985 in memory of Jill Harris, a resident of Chicago and undergraduate student at U-M who passed away due to injuries from an auto accident. Established by Roger and Meredith Harris, Jill’s parents, her grandparents Allan and Norma Harris, and friends, the fund brings a distinguished visitor to campus each year who will appeal to undergraduate students interested in the humanities and the arts.

This event is part of the 2018 Washtenaw Read. The Washtenaw Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Participating libraries include Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti. For more information about Washtenaw Reads and previous years' reads, go to wread.org.

West African Art and Music in Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing, with Victoria Shields

Attend an interactive workshop for music and art lovers with discussion of the 2018 Washtenaw Read, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. Drawing from the African American Cultural Humanities (AC) curriculum, Ms Shields examines the social and historical contexts presented in Homegoing using music and pieces from the Detroit Institute of Art collection. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the influence of West Africa on American music styles.

Victoria Shields is a doctoral student in the Eastern Michigan University Urban Education program focusing on curriculum development and programming. She conducts teacher training at state and national conferences and focuses on the development of Humanities and Social Science curriculum with the integration of music, dance and pieces from the Detroit Institute of Art collection.

This event is part of the 2018 Washtenaw Read.

Washtenaw Reads 2017 Author Event: Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer, Authors of "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America"

For months hundreds of community members throughout Washtenaw County have been reading and discussing the award-winning book $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer, which was selected for Washtenaw Reads in September by a panel of community judges.

Join us for an unforgettable evening as both authors discuss the themes of this unforgettable book.

After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no income, a level of destitution so deep as to be unthought-of in the world’s most advanced capitalist economy. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children.

The result of their investigative teamwork is this book, which received much critical acclaim. "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" won the prestigious Hillman Prize for Book Journalism by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, was short-listed for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation and was named a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Kathryn J. Edin, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, is the coauthor of "Promises I Can’t Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage" and "Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work." H. Luke Shaefer, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, where he studies poverty and social welfare policy in the United States.. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and received the 2013 Early Career Achievement Award, given by the Society for Social Work and Research.

The public program will occur from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Doors will open at 6 pm to offer the opportunity to for the public to connect with local community agencies including Alpha House, Catholic Social Services, Food Gatherers, Ground Cover, Offender Success, Ozone House, Safe House, SOS Community Service, United Way, Washtenaw County Sheriff, and Washtenaw Health Plan staffing information tables in the lobby. Books will be for sale courtesy of Barnes & Noble and a book signing will occur in the lobby immediately following the event.