Eighteen years ago, Georgetown University conceived the idea of engaging new students in the thoughtful reading of a text by a major international author. During the summer prior to their matriculation into the academic life of Georgetown, the University asks first-year students to read the selected text and complete a reflection assignment. At the beginning of the fall semester, the author of the selected text comes to campus to discuss the novel and the life of writing with all incoming freshmen. Immediately following the author's conversation with the new Hoyas, more than seventy faculty and staff members meet with the students in small discussion groups and together embark on a thematic and stylistic analysis of the novel.
This year's Workshop features Cambodian author Vaddey Ratner and her debut novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan. It will take place on Monday, August 26th, during New Student Orientation.
The novel tells the story of seven-year-old Raami, for whom the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival.
In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.
For more details on the Workshop, visit the website or like us on Facebook.
The Workshop is sponsored by Frederick Marino (SLL '68) and his family in honor of his father, Joseph Marino. It is jointly run by the University Library and the Office of the Provost.