The Book One Program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock requires new students to read their first book of our General Education program over the summer. The work serves as the basis for reflection, discussion, and writing during Writing & Thinking Workshop and throughout the First Year Seminar course sequence, and the author visits and presents a lecture on campus during the Fall semester. Each year, a different book is selected from a list of new and noteworthy publications and the shared experience of reading and talking about the text helps to shape each class’s unique first academic experiences at Simon's Rock.
We are proud to announce that this year’s Book One is Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, published by Knopf in 2011. The work has received critical attention and has won the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and has featured on many lists of notable publications, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and a New York Times Notable Book. It also stands out as a National Book Award Finalist for 2011.
Otsuka currently resides in New York City but hails from California, where she was born and raised. She earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University and received an MFA from Columbia University. She pursued a successful career as a painter, before turning to literary fiction at the age of 30. Her first novel, When the Emperor was Divine (Knopf 2002), explores the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II. It became a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers finalist. That the book was translated into six languages further testifies to its literary quality. Ms. Otsuka’s second book-length work, The Buddha in the Attic, has not disappointed its readers and has confirmed Otsuka’s reputation as an established writer. The novel describes the experiences of a group of young, Japanese “picture brides” who, in the early 1900s, sailed to the West Coast of the United States to be married to American men whom they had never met and only knew by photographs.