The University of Alaska Southeast, which holds its first day of classes Sept. 3, has selected a new title for its fourth annual One Campus One Book program: “At the Mouth of the River of Bees,” a story collection by Kij Johnson.
This year an expanded program will include an author presentation during one of this fall’s Evening at Egan lectures, an author-led community fiction writing workshop, and a student art exhibit based on the books in the spring.
All incoming students attending New Student Orientation at UAS received a copy of the book and participating faculty will integrate the book into their curriculum. One Campus One Book is part of a larger First Year Experience program that focuses on building the campus community through a shared text.
UAS Public Services Librarian Jonas Lamb, who formerly worked for the Juneau Public Library, is heading up the project. He said similar programs have been shown to improve freshmen retention rates on college campuses. Though it’s currently campus-based, he would love to see it become community-wide, like Chicago’s One Book One Chicago program, organized through the Chicago Public Library system. Aspects of UAS’ current program are designed to help move it in that direction, such as the Evening at Egan lecture and fiction writing workshop, both of which are open to the public as well as students.
Lamb said he’s already heard of one local book group that will be reading the work.
Here’s a look at the schedule
Nov. 6-8: Kij Johnson visit to the UAS Auke Bay Campus
Nov. 8: Evening at Egan lecture series, An Evening with Kij Johnson, 7 p.m., UAS Egan Library
Nov. 9: Community Fiction Writing Workshop with Kij Johnson, 1-4 p.m., Douglas Public Library
April 2014: Narrative in Drawing, UAS Student Art Exhibit featuring works based on ‘At the Mouth of the River of Bees’
Johnson, Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing at the University of Kansas, won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for “The Man Who Bridged The Mist” in 2012. She also won the Nebula in 2011 (for “Ponies”) and 2010 for (“Spar”), and in 2009 won the World Fantasy for “26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss.” Her novels include two volumes of the Heian trilogy Love/War/Death: “The Fox Woman” and “Fudoki.”
NPR’s Alan Cheuse wrote that Johnson’s work reminded him of Ursula Le Guin.
“The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday,” Cheuse wrote.
Last year’s One Campus One Book selection was “Being Caribou” by Karsten Heuer, and in 2011, “The Truth About Stories” by Thomas King. Both authors made visits to Juneau as part of the program.
The first selection, in 2010, was “Listening is an Act of Love” by David Isay.
For more on this program, visit http://www.uas.alaska.edu/ocob/