Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 5, 2005
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Book selected for freshman summer reading project


Hoping to shed new light on current events, Temple’s summer reading committee has selected West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary for its 2005 freshman summer reading project. All freshmen are expected to read the book before arriving on campus in the fall.

West of Kabul, East of New York, in Ansary’s words, tells his story of “growing up bicultural” as an Afghan American. The memoir centers on the author’s daring trip through the Middle East at the peak of the Iranian Revolution, the embodiment of Ansary’s lifelong pursuit to reconcile these dueling cultural identities.

Ansary will visit Main Campus on Sept. 8 to speak to the Temple community and kick off the academic term.

Jodi Levine-Laufgraben, associate vice provost and chair of the summer reading committee, said West of Kabul, East of New York builds on the momentum of last year’s choice, Caucasia by Danzy Senna, which was well-received by freshmen.

“Both books deal with issues of identity and awareness of oneself and one’s family,” said Levine-Laufgraben, who added that Ansary’s book has been used successfully at Dartmouth University, Stanford University and Tulane University. “These are ideas that especially resonate with freshmen just starting college.”

In addition to Ansary’s visit, the summer reading committee will plan a film series, creativity contest and small, faculty-led discussions to further engage students with the book.
Committee member Roland Williams, an English professor, said he expects students will embrace West of Kabul, East of New York.

“The book conveys a global perspective that makes sense of current events while it recounts a tender romance that adds suspense,” Williams said. “Ansary’s work should warm hearts and spark thought. Moreover, it should stir a broadminded conversation about love and marriage, plus culture and character, not to mention faith and fanaticism.”

Temple’s freshman summer reading project is in its fourth year.

- By Ted Boscia