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"Persepolis" is the "Big Read" for new Coastal freshmen

May 2, 2005

Incoming freshmen at Coastal Carolina University have a summer reading assignment - "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood" by Marjane Satrapi.

"Persepolis" is the "big read" that new freshmen have been assigned as a shared intellectual experience. A convocation for new students will be held Monday, Aug. 15 at 9 a.m. at Brooks Stadium when a faculty speaker will discuss the relevance of the book to students and why it was chosen. Group discussions will follow at 10:30 a.m. at different locations around campus.

The author will be the featured speaker in a lecture and reading on Oct. 13 at Wheelwright Auditorium. A time will be announced later.

Published in 2004, the book is Satrapi's memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. "The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country," according to the book jacket.

"We ask that freshmen read 'Persepolis' over the summer and come to Coastal prepared to participate in a series of events and activities surrounding the book, including a visit to campus by the author," said Lynn Willett, vice president for Student Affairs.

To select the book, a campus committee solicited suggestions from campus faculty, staff and students, narrowed those books to four, read them and made the choice based in part on author availability. The three other books considered were "The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer and "This Boy's Life" by Tobias Wolff.

Criteria considered when selecting a community book include literary worth, wide appeal, themes, issues and topics that would lend themselves to spirited discussion, relevance and timeliness. Since the book is also incorporated into the freshmen English curriculum, professors must agree that it is teachable.

This is the second year Costal's incoming freshmen will read and discuss a common text. "Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916" by Michael Capuzzo was last year's book, a nonfiction account of a series of shark attacks on visitors to the New Jersey seashore.