UNC chooses “Home” for summer reading

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 04:40 PM

A UNC committee has selected Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s new novel “Home” as the university’s summer reading book for incoming students.

The nine-member committee of students, faculty and staff chose the book from among five finalists.

Christopher Putney, associate professor of Russian in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures and chair of the committee, said he believes students will be able to relate to “Home.”

“The committee agreed that this book should resonate with our incoming Carolina first-year students, as many of them will be leaving their own homes and making new homes and supportive communities for themselves,” Putney said.

While the book is short, just a little more than 150 pages, Putney said it is deep, rich and compelling.

 “Its images will stay with our students for a long time,” Putney said.

“Home” is the story of a man, Frank Money, who has been described as a modern Odysseus, who joins the army to escape his too-small world, leaving behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee.

After the war, Money’s life has no purpose until he hears that Cee is in danger.

New students who enroll next fall are expected to read the book over the summer and participate in small group discussions on the Monday before fall classes begin.

The four other finalists were “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward and “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon.

Home is only the second work of fiction chosen for the program, now in its 15th year. The other was “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri,” which was made into a movie.

Putney said he asked the committee to give works of fiction a preference this year.

 “I think there is just so much wonderful fiction out there that it should be considered,” Putney said.

While all of the other works considered for the program this year were great books, Putney said “Home” possessed the artistic and literary qualities to make it a great choice as the summer reading book.

 “How it is written should be as important as what is written,” Putney said.

He said he read the book over one Sunday afternoon, and parts of it still remain heavy on his mind.

 “I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days,” Putney said. “It really did send chills down my spine.”