Welcome to the SMU Common Reading Program! The Common Reading Program is an established start-of-school tradition at SMU. As the incoming class you will receive the book during the summer at AARO and should read it before you arrive for the start of the fall semester. Faculty, staff, and returning SMU students have already begun reading and discussing the book in preparation for small-group conversations you will participate in before Rotunda Passage and Opening Convocation. Your first-year writing courses will use the book as part of your curriculum for the fall semester.
We Need New Names
We Need New Names follows a spunky ten-year old suffering extreme poverty in Zimbabwe in her journey to America. The blissful ignorance of childhood is ripped from young Darling’s hands as she worries for her home country and safety of her loved ones. With the move she was able to say goodbye to having to steal food and fear of her home being destroyed, but she also lost a piece of who she was and the country she was raised in. She struggles to adapt to the “American way”, and we watch as who she once was begins to evaporate.
Read more about this incredible story.
NoViolet Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She earned her MFA at Cornell University, and is now a Wagner Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She earned a bachelors degree at Texas A&M, and a Master’s Degree from Southern Methodist University. She is the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (for her first novel, We Need New Names).
Read more about this fascinating author!
Be sure to check out our resources page where you will find helpful information on this year's common reading. We have including web resources to help you learn more about poverty and income level statistics, a number of videos and audio to help you explore the story.
We Need New Names is more than just an intriguing narrative. It is a story about lessons and morals. Visit our ethical issues page to explore and discuss the myriad of ethical issues present in the book.
Pick up your free copy of the book at AARO! Dates for AARO can be found here
Each year the Common Reading book is selected by the Common Reading Selection Committee. The Committee, chaired by Diana Grumbles, Director of SMU's Discernment and Discourse Department, solicits books suggestions from the entire SMU Community.