Alumna’s debut novel is SMU’s 2014 Common Reading

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Alumna’s debut novel is SMU’s 2014 Common Reading

'We Need New Names' by NoViolet BulawayoFor the incoming class of 2018, SMU has chosen an acclaimed first novel that is also the first Common Reading selection to be written by an SMU graduate.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo tells the story of 10-year-old Darling, a Zimbabwean girl who lives in a shantytown called Paradise. Darling’s father has contracted AIDS – euphemistically called “the sickness” by the book’s characters – while working in South Africa. Her mother has left town in her own attempt to provide for the family.

Unexpectedly, Darling gets the chance to live in the United States with an aunt. But the golden opportunity doesn’t pan out according to her dreams when she begins her new life as an undocumented immigrant in Detroit.

“Bulawayo describes all this in brilliant language, alive and confident, often funny, strong in its ability to make Darling’s African life immediate,” wrote Uzodinma Iweala in The New York Times Book Review.

> SMU Magazine: Alumna traces career awakening to SMU

Judy Wertheimer’s review in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states that “Ms. Bulawayo’s artistry is such that we can’t help but see ourselves in that wider world…. Darling is a dazzling life force with a rich, inventive language all her own, funny and perceptive but still very much a child.”

“We believe that this narrative will provide students with a wholly original reading experience,” said Associate Provost Harold Stanley in an e-mail to faculty and staff members dated Monday, May 19, 2014.

Bulawayo, known to many at SMU by her given name of Elizabeth Tshele, earned her master’s degree in English from the University in 2007 after receiving her bachelor’s in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce. In 2010, she received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell as a Truman Capote Fellow. She recently completed a 2012-14 Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford.

Her pen name is a tribute both to her mother, who died when she was 18 months old (NoViolet means “with Violet” in her native Ndebele), and to her childhood home, the second-largest city in Zimbabwe.

Bulawayo’s semi-autobiographical first novel has received several prestigious awards and recognitions, including the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Prize for Debut Fiction, the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, and the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature. Additionally, she became the first black African woman to make the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize (in 2013) and made The New York Times’ 2013 Notable Books of the Year list, as well as National Public Radio’s “Great Reads of 2013.”

We Need New Names is only the second work of fiction chosen for the University’s Common Reading since the program began in 2004. The first, How to Be Good by Nick Hornby, was SMU’s Common Reading selection in 2007.

Past SMU Common Reading books also include Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman (2004), Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (2005), The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (2006), The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea (2008), Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (2009), Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011), The Big Short by Michael Lewis (2012), and The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2013).

The Common Reading Selection Committee is now seeking leaders for the pre-Convocation reading discussion. Discussion leaders will receive a free copy of the book. Active and emeritus professors from all SMU schools are invited to take part, as well as University staff members.

To volunteer as a discussion leader, or for more information on this year’s selection, contact Diana Grumbles, 214-768-3832.

> Learn more from SMU’s Common Reading homepage: smu.edu/commonreading

June 11, 2014|News|

Tune In: Faculty honored during Founders’ Day 2014

SMU Centennial Faculty Photo, April 11, 2014SMU’s 2014 Founders’ Day Weekend, April 10-13, spotlighted the University’s faculty as the centennial celebration of the Year of the Faculty gains momentum on the Hilltop.

The festivities included a Faculty Salute during the annual President’s Briefing, a showcase of faculty expertise as part of Inside SMU Powered by TEDxSMU, and a Centennial Faculty Photograph in Moody Coliseum.

Relive the event in photos and video courtesy of the Founders’ Day Weekend page at SMU Newsslide show video

May 6, 2014|Tune In, Year of the Faculty|

Students can make connections at Spring 2014 Career and Internship Fair

SMU students will have the opportunity to connect with 117 companies and more than 225 employer representatives at the University’s Spring 2014 Career and Internship Fair Monday, Feb. 24. Employers attending include the U.S. Department of Labor, Neiman Marcus, Peace Corps, McAfee Inc., American Airlines, KPMG, Citi, Ernst and Young, Deliotte, JCPenney and many others.

Sponsored by SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center, the fair takes place noon to 4 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

Darin Ford, director of the Hegi Career Center, says the event can open a variety of doors for students, whether it is their first semester or their last. “For the first time, we have partnered with eight SMU graduate school departments who will be in attendance recruiting students for graduate school opportunities on the Hilltop,” he says.

“Be prepared,” he adds. “Students who do their research always stand out above the rest.”

> Watch a video of the February 2013 Career and Internship Fair by Myles Taylor of SMU News video

To prepare for the fair, Hegi Career Center counselors suggest:

  • Dress for success by wearing professional business attire;
  • Print out and bring multiple copies of your résumé for the opportunity to network with multiple companies;
  • Research the companies that will be in attendance and choose the ones that interest you most;
  • Come early to meet with “fresh and ready” recruiters.

The center offers students and alumni multiple resources in addition to the biannual fair, including:

  • One-on-one meetings with counselors, career assessments and a four-year plan;
  • Discussions with industry panels composed of employers who provide professional advice;
  • Workshops on interviewing, résumés and other career skills;
  • MustangTRAK, an online database featuring hundreds of jobs and internships, and UCAN, or University Career Action Network, a shared internship database among universities across the country.

Alumni are invited to share their career expertise and mentor SMU students. Learn more at SMU Connection.

Written by Sarah Hanan

February 19, 2014|News|

Tune In: Experiencing SMU game day ‘Down On The Boulevard’

SMU celebrated its 13th year of The Boulevard during the season-opening football game against Texas Tech Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.

A new video by Myles Taylor of SMU News captures the fun, spirit and pageantry of the University’s pre-game festivities – which Southern Living magazine named one of “The South’s Best Tailgates” in 2012.

Click the YouTube screen to enjoy the video, or click here to watch “SMU Boulevard” in a new windowvideo

September 24, 2013|Sports, Tune In|
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