The first book cracked by Duke's Class of 2009 will be The Kite Runner, the fictional story of a young Afghan boy who is raised by his father in Kabul until they flee Afghanistan and end up in California. The novel, written by Khaled Hosseini, will be sent to all incoming first-year students in mid-July. Students are expected to read the book before August orientation sessions, when they will participate in small-group discussions.
Ryan Lombardi, assistant dean of students and chair of the summer reading selection committee, says the book was chosen because it provides a historical and timely glimpse at the challenges facing the citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan. "The Kite Runner is a thought-provoking novel that is very difficult to put down," Lombardi says. "It offers great insight into our global society by exploring issues and tensions that should captivate every reader."
Now in its fourth year, Duke's summer reading assignment is aimed at providing a taste of the university's intellectual climate and fostering a shared learning experience and a sense of community among incoming students. Last year, students read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder. The book spotlights Paul Farmer '82, an infectious-disease expert.
A committee of undergraduates and faculty and student-affairs staff members began meeting in January to consider ninety-two nominations that eventually were pared to four. The other finalists were Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson Ph.D. '94, A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind, and Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean.