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Donnelly Library Offers Spring Reading Group


Las Vegas, N.M – The New Mexico Highlands University Donnelly Library presents a free spring reading and discussion group titled “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys.”

The books are available at Donnelly Library thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant awarded to the library for the Muslim Journeys collection.

All of the authors featured in the current Muslim Journeys discussion group have received international acclaim and awards for their best-selling books.

The book discussions begin at 7 p.m. in Donnelly Library, 802 National Ave., on these dates:

Thursday, Feb. 27 – In the Country of Men/Hisham Matar

Thursday, March 27 ­– Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood/Marjane Satrapi

Thursday, April  24 – House of Stone: a Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East/Anthony Shadid

April Kent, a Donnelly librarian and head of public services, wrote the successful NEH grant proposal for Muslim Journeys, and coordinates the library’s book groups.

“These compelling books focus on the revolutions, political events and history that have shaped the Middle East through personal accounts,” Kent said. “The first two titles are told through the eyes of Libyan and Iranian children, giving them a unique perspective.

“The third title is the memoir of a renowned Lebanese-American journalist that offers both an insider and outsider viewpoint of the Middle East,” Kent said.  

Brandon Kempner, a literature professor in the Highlands University Department of English, will lead the book discussions.

In the Country of Menis the 2006 debut novel by Libyan writer Hisham Matar that tells the story of Suleiman, a 9-year-old boy living in Tripoli, Libya in 1979. Suleiman’s father engages in clandestine activities against the Muammar Gadhafi regime, with terrifying consequences for boy’s family.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is the 2003 graphic novel form memoir by Marjane Satrapi that is a coming-of-age tale of her life as a child and young woman in Tehran, Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and its tumultuous aftermath. Persepolis has a wide following in the West, especially in the Iranian exile community, and was made into a film.

House of Stoneis the 2012 memoir by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid that tells the poignant story of rebuilding his grandfather’s farm in southern Lebanon. Shadid, a Lebanese-American, covered the Middle East for the New York Times. During the 2011 Arab Spring, he was taken hostage in Libya along with three photojournalists.All four were released, but Shadid died in 2012 while covering the Syrian Civil War.

“Literature can be one of the best ways to explore other cultures. These books convey the rich complexity of the Muslim world, which isn’t monolithic, and give individual perspectives,” Kent said.

She added that the Donnelly Library book groups are informal and accessible, and encourages people to join the discussion whenever they can.

Donnelly offers free library cards to area residents. For more information about the Muslim Journeys book group, contact Kent at ajkent@nmhu.eduor visit the library.

The National Endowment for the Humanities developed Muslims Journeys in cooperation with the American Library Association.

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