Global Engagement

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Keker First Year Common Read

The Keker First Year Common Read (KFYCR) is designed to introduce new students to the intellectual life of UNCG. Offered through the New Student Transitions and First Year Experience Office, this is an opportunity for new students to read a common summer book and engage in curricular and co-curricular learning through classroom discussions and special programs.

The cover of 'Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family' by Najla Said The 2017 Keker First Year Common Read choice is Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.

In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”

But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.

With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

The author visit is scheduled for October 24th at 7:00p.m. in the UNCG Auditorium. Due to space limitation, this event is only open to first year students.

Learn more about the Keker First Year Common Read here: newstudents.uncg.edu/yfy/keker//