(Book Cover Images | Courtesy of Deschutes Public Library)
This April, Deschutes Public Library kicks off a month-long slate of programs as part of the 18th annual A Novel Idea community read project. This year we have two books, one for adults and one for young readers: Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, respectively. Programming concludes in early May with live online presentations from Lalami (May 2) and Yang (May 1). Be sure to visit the A Novel Idea website for information about the project and the many programs that support it. There you’ll also find details about the books and interviews with the authors as well as essays about topics the books address. You’ll even find an A Novel Idea-inspired playlist! Be sure to check out The Other Americans and Front Desk from your library, and join the conversation.
The Other Americans, by Laila Lalami
About the book: Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is struck by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters to tell their stories and reveal the invisible connections that tie them together — even while they remain deeply divided by race, religion or class.
About the author: Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated 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 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. The Other Americans was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction. She is currently a full professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. Her latest book, a work of nonfiction called Conditional Citizens, was published in September 2020.
Front Desk, by Kelly Yang
About the book: Ten-year-old Mia Tang manages the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. As recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, they take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California. While her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants.
About the author: 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 left the motels and went to college at 13 and law school at 17. After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. Yang is New York Times bestselling author of Front Desk, Three Keys and Parachutes, and winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia.
Visit the website here: deschuteslibrary.org/calendar/novelidea
Find the Reader’s Guide here: deschuteslibrary.org/calendar/novelidea