'Zeitoun' Sure to Capture the Imagination


LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 29, 2010) – The national bestseller "Zeitoun" (pronounced Zay-toon) by David Eggers has been selected as the second Common Reading Experience at the University of Kentucky.

All new students will receive a copy of the book, either during Merit Weekend activities or during Summer Advising Conferences. They are expected to have the book read and their QLC (Quote-Life Lesson-Character) assignment completed before they arrive on campus in August.

It shouldn't be much of a chore for a young freshman: the subject is gripping, the author is gifted, and all their fellow classmates will share in the experience. In fact, all freshmen are expected to attend K Week's K Week Common Reading Discussion Group. Photo and essay contests are planned as are additional assignment and study groups in UK 101 classes. The author is scheduled for a campus visit and lecture Sept. 27.

The book offers a day-to-day narration of the Zeitoun family's experiences surviving Hurricane Katrina and living with its aftermath.

"With the fifth anniversary of the disaster approaching, the selection is particularly timely and poignant," said Michelle Ashcraft, assistant director of New Student and Parent Programs and coordinator of the Common Reading Experience.

A collaboration between the Office of New Student and Parent Programs (Student Affairs) and Academic Affairs, the Common Reading Experience has several goals:

  • *Establish immediate expectations for engagement of students in an intellectual community.
  • *Provide opportunity for discourse regarding personal, university, community, and societal values.
  • *Foster a sense of community among students, families, faculty, and staff through shared academic experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
  • *Promote interdisciplinary involvement in meaningful learning surrounding a single book.
  • *Foster collaboration with other co-curricular efforts (i.e., K Week, UK101, live-learning communities, Center for Community Outreach, Student Activities Board, etc.)

Current UK students had a significant role in the entire experience, from choosing the book to planning a full academic year of events and activities. The selection committee, comprised of three students, six faculty and 11 staff members read six books during the fall 2009 semester before selecting "Zeitoun."

Their criteria were:

  • -- Relevance to first-year students, current society, and/or local community
  • -- Readability and potential to spark passionate discussion
  • -- Possibility for additional programming
  • -- Ability to promote one or more institutional initiatives and/or values
  • -- Availability of author to speak on campus
  • -- Opportunities for creative assignments in courses

"We are thrilled with the choice the selection committee made and excited about the activities the students will enjoy this fall," said Ashcraft.