Maryville to Read ‘The Kite Runner’


The “Maryville Reads, One Book, One Community” 2008-2009 book selection is “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini. The campus-wide reading program begins its second year in August.

“The program started as a way for Multicultural Programs to collaborate with other campus departments and the university library in a relevant way for students,” said Danielle Carter, director of Multicultural Programs.

The reading initiative is designed to advance Maryville’s mission to create a campus environment that understands and values diverse cultures, ethnicities, and ages, Carter said. Faculty and staff members are asked to incorporate discussion of the book in their classes and departments.

“The Kite Runner,” Hosseini’s debut novel, is an international bestseller and has won numerous literary awards. It was made into a feature-length movie last year. The story begins in Afghanistan, and addresses themes of guilt and redemption, fathers and sons, friendship and war.

“We look for books that will lead to discussions on issues of diversity and social justice,” Carter said. “We feel that ‘The Kite Runner’ will enhance our understanding of the Afghanistan culture, among other issues that unfold throughout the story.”

Genie McKee, Ph.D., dean of the university library, said Maryville Reads is also an opportunity to read for pleasure.

“From my perspective, it also involves literacy and getting people to read outside of their college courses,” McKee said. “In regard to this year’s selection, I was very interested in having a fiction book since last year’s title was non-fiction. At times it can be brutal, but ‘The Kite Runner’ is a powerful book.”

Plus, the book features male characters. McKee hopes that fact will encourage more male students to read it. Typically, men are more reluctant than women to read fiction, she said.

The book selection process involves a committee of Maryville faculty and staff who make recommendations and develop programming relevant to the book, including small group and panel discussions, workshops, and a showing of the movie. Last year, the campus community read “The Freedom Writers’ Diary,” by Erin Gruwell. The author visited the Maryville campus, but McKee said Maryville has already learned that Hosseini will not be available for an on-campus lecture next year.