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CCRI selects 'One Amazing Thing'
for 2011-12 Common Reading Project
June 27, 2011
In an online vote, students, staff and faculty members at the Community College of Rhode Island have chosen Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel “One Amazing Thing,” which celebrates the power of storytelling, as the next selection in the college’s Common Reading Project.
The nine characters in “One Amazing Thing” find themselves trapped in the ruins of an Indian consulate office in the United States after an earthquake. As they await their unknown fate, these strangers tell their individual stories and reveal one amazing thing about their lives. One by one, they tell tales of love, seduction, betrayal, lost opportunities, dreams, ambitions and secrets. Divakaruni’s novel pays tribute to the transformative nature of storytelling and the ability of people with diverse histories, races, religions and experiences to find a common thread in their humanity.
According to a review in the Washington Post, “The appeal of these life stories, like that of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales,’ is that they throw the spotlight onto varied lives, each with its own joys and miseries. Together, the stories show how easy it is to divert young lives into unforeseen and restrictive channels, and how hard it is for people to realize their early dreams. Their shared experiences and fears form the frame that holds together this compendium of short stories into an absorbing novel. ... At the end of her novel, her readers are fully engaged in what will happen to those nine people.”
Members of the CCRI community who wish to participate in the project can read this short novel over the summer. During the 2011-12 academic year, the committee will offer activities related to the book’s themes. The CCRI bookstores are offering the novel at a 10 percent discount.
Other finalists were “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi; “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane; “The Soloist” by Steve Lopez; and “Tinkers” by Paul Harding.