Chicago Public Library announced today the 2020 selection for the acclaimed One Book, One Chicago program will be Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. The 2017 magical realism novel imagines a world where people can travel between countries just by stepping through a door. One Book, One Chicago brings Chicagoans together to read and engage with a common text as part of a city-wide literary program surrounding a common theme. This season’s theme, “Beyond Borders,” encourages Chicagoans to look beyond our conventional understanding of borders between nations, identities, and cultures to explore themes of immigration, refuge, home and family.
"In a time where social distancing has created yet another set of borders between us, this year's One Book, One Chicago theme couldn't be more pertinent," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "By putting our own definitions of borders to the side, we gain the potential to make invaluable, long-lasting and genuine connections with one another, regardless of where we're from and how we identify. Exit West creates a unique pathway for us to further understand and develop empathy toward our neighbors both within and beyond our city limits."
Exit West tells the story of Saeed and Nadia, a young couple falling in love and navigating civil war and an upended world order after mysterious doors that transport refugees and travelers between countries begin to appear worldwide. One Book, One Chicago will dive into issues around immigration, identity, and how our society perceives and constructs borders between ourselves and others. Exit West is a love story that also imparts a story familiar to migrants and refugees everywhere even within a fantastical framework.
“I’m honored that Exit West has been chosen for One Book, One Chicago,” said Exit West author Mohsin Hamid. “Chicago is a city of migrants, one of the great gathering places of people from all over the world, reflected in its communities, its music, its food, and of course its literature. I look forward to participating in the city’s ongoing conversations about storytelling, migration, and the meanings of home.”
“One Book, One Chicago is more important now than ever,” said Linda Johnson-Rice, President of the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors. “This program is designed to bring people from across the city together in new and unexpected ways around a common topic, and our current situation makes these connections all the more essential. We’re thrilled to facilitate these connections and dive into an important and incredibly relevant issue.”
Joining with community partners, CPL will offer Chicagoans a variety of events and programs reimagined as digital offerings as Chicagoans continue to stay socially distanced but connected through other means. CPL continues to partner with local educational institutions including Loyola University Chicago, Harold Washington College, Northeastern Illinois University, and the ongoing partnership exploring the impact of citywide literary programs with DePaul University. This year, Chicago Public Library is excited to welcome Bank of America as a lead sponsor in helping make these expanded digital offerings possible.
“Bank of America is proud to be a part of the Chicago Public Library’s efforts to unify our residents while encouraging and advancing cultural exploration and appreciation,” said Paul Lambert, Chicago Market President for Bank of America. “This year’s One Book, One Chicago theme is both timely and thought provoking, and our hope is that participation in the program sparks understanding, empathy, and meaningful dialogue across the city of Chicago.”
Highlights of this year’s One Book, One Chicago program include:
· Keynote Program: Author Mohsin Hamid in conversation on CPL’s Youtube page, Thursday, December 3 at 7pm
· Path to Citizenship Workshops: Join representatives from HIAS Immigration & Citizenship to learn about the journey from permanent resident (Green Card holder) to U.S. citizen. English/Spanish.
· Celebrating Our Journeys: Don’t miss programs celebrating the journeys of the cultures that influenced Chicago, including Native Journeys: Dr. Anton Truer, American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago with Dominic Pacyga, Citizen Illegal: Poet Jose Olivarez and Fashion Beyond Borders with Hoda Katebi
· Learn New Skills: CPL librarians host a series of workshops to teach you new skills that explore culture, including cooking webTV show Snacks in the Stacks, workshops to get
help with genealogy research using CPL databases, and video demonstrations of cultural crafts with Art Beyond Borders
· Web TV Series: Chicago Neighborhood’s Beyond Borders: Join urbanologist Max Grinnell for episodes of One Book neighborhood tours Walks Online, featuring 10 episodes exploring neighborhoods across Chicago and how immigration and migration has affected them.
· Book club discussions citywide
"This year, I'll be taking Chicago Public Library patrons and the generally curious to learn a bit about how new arrivals to Chicago have transformed communities from West Rogers Park to Pilsen.”, said urbanologist and One Book, One Chicago partner Max Grinnell. “Without these diverse groups, Chicago would not be the fabulously diverse place it is today. I'm honored to be a part of this year's One Book, One Chicago programs. It should be a fascinating and engaging experience for all."
Exit West is a New York Times bestseller and was named a Top Ten Book of 2017 by The New York Times Book Review. Hamid was also awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize and The Aspen Words Literary Prize for Exit West, his fourth novel, and was a finalist for the 2017 Booker Prize.