“The Other Americas” by Laila Lalami chosen as community reading “A Novel Idea”

Selection for young readers: ‘Front Desk’ by Kelly Yang

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Deschutes Public Library has announced The other Americans in the 2021 selection “A new idea… Reading together”. The book, written by novelist and essayist Laila Lalami, was revealed at a virtual event on Saturday evening.

The selection is accompanied by a book for young people, Reception by Kelly Yang. This is only the second time in the history of the program that a selection is also made for young readers.

“This year’s ‘A Novel Idea’ double feature follows the story of immigrant families and their pursuit of the American Dream,” said Liz Goodrich, Deschutes Public Library Programs Supervisor. “For 2021, we’re excited to share stories of modern American families and a setting a little closer to home. A common thread between the two books shares the search for inclusion while absorbing the weight of ethnic injustice and white privilege in America.

The Other Americans tells the story of Driss Guerraoui leaving the political turmoil of Casablanca in 1981 and moving to California to form a better life for his family. When Driss’ untimely death shakes the family, his daughter Nora continues the investigation and the story unfolds from nine unique perspectives. Every perspective, from the undocumented witness to the recently relocated detective, shows what it means for family, community and country to forge a sense of identity while uncovering the mystery of Driss’ death.

“Building on the year-over-year growth of ‘A Novel Idea,’ we are thrilled to welcome a second voice to reach young readers,” said Goodrich. “Lalami and Yang are both first generation immigrants and they share this with the protagonists of their books, overcoming stereotypes and racism. Our goal is to provide a platform for residents of Deschutes County to have conversations, experience cultures, and share ideas that can bring about meaningful change.

Programming for “A Novel Idea” begins on Saturday, April 3, 2021. What follows are four weeks of virtual programs that explore and expose the themes and ideas found in The other Americans and Reception. The program concludes with a presentation broadcast live by authors Yang and Lalami on Saturday May 1 and Sunday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m., respectively. All programs, including author presentations, are free through support of the Deschutes Public Library Foundation.

About the book: The other Americans
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking through a dark intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The Aftermath of His Death brings together a diverse cast of characters to tell their stories and the unseen bonds that bind them together, even as they remain deeply divided by race, religion, or class.

About the Author: Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and studied in Morocco, Great Britain and the United States. She is the author of four novels, including The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, Arab-American Book Award, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. His latest novel, The other Americans, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction. She has received scholarships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program and the Guggenheim Foundation and is currently a Full Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. His new book, a work of non-fiction titled Conditional citizens, was released in September 2020.

About the book: Reception
Reception is a mid-level debut novel about 10-year-old Mia Tang who manages a motel’s front desk while her parents clean the rooms. As recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, they accept a job managing a run-down motel in Southern California. The owner, Mr. Yao, is a crude cheapskate who operates them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the housework, Mia works at the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants.

About the Author: Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang was born in China and immigrated to America with her parents when she was six years old. Her family settled in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She eventually quit the motels and went to college when she was 13 and law school when she was 17. After law school, she quit law to pursue her passion for writing and teaching children to write. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debate program for children in Asia.

For more information on A Novel Idea, please contact Liz Goodrich at (541) 312-1032 or lizg@deschuteslibrary.org. Check out the “A Novel Idea” website at www.deschuteslibrary.org/novelidea/for listings of events as they are scheduled and for author information.

Irene B. Bowles