News of the World is Greenwich Reads Together selection

News of the World by New York Times bestselling author Paulette Jiles has been chosen for Greenwich Reads Together 2017. The title was announced on Tuesday, May 23 at Greenwich Library in a ceremony attended by over 40 community members. The book was suggested by Jeanne Altman, a part-time librarian at Cos Cob Library.

Two thematically related companion books were announced for younger readers:

The Ransom of Mercy Carter by Caroline B. Cooney for middle school readers and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble for elementary school readers.

News of the World is a moving work of historical fiction, a skillful imagining of the American west by Paulette Jiles, an author and poet who’s repeatedly lent her rich, lyrical voice to the Civil War era.   

At the heart of the tale is former soldier Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a septuagenarian who, armed with a portfolio of newspapers from around the globe, makes a living traveling among the far-flung outposts of Texas sharing the “news of the world” with a frontier populace hungry for information.

As a favor to freedman Britt Johnson (hero of Jiles’s 2009 novel, The Color of Lightning), the captain agrees to take custody of ten-year-old orphan Johanna Leonberger and deliver her to her aunt and uncle who live near San Antonio, some 400 miles away.

And so begins a remarkable journey as the girl – recently rescued from the Kiowa family that raised her as one of their own after her parents and sister were killed in an Indian raid – and the aging, widowed captain set out. Along the way the unlikely pair, who don’t even share a common language, work in concert to stave off the dangers of the road, from storms to highwaymen. When they finally arrive at their destination, the captain faces a wrenching decision: abandon a child to an indifferent, albeit “safe” home . . . or risk stepping outside the letter of the law to save her.

In a starred review, Kirkus calls News of the World “lyrical and affecting” and successful in “skirting clichés through its empathy and through the depth of its major characters.” Library Journal says it’s “not to be missed.”

Novelist, poet, and memoirist Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, and raised in the Missouri Ozarks. After moving to Canada to work as a journalist, she won a Canadian Governor General Award (Canada’s highest literary honor) for her 1984 poetry collection,Celestial Navigation. She returned to the United States in 1989 and in 2002 won a Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for her novel Enemy Women. News of the World is her sixteenth published book. She currently lives, writes and rides from a small ranch in Texas.

Greenwich Reads Together (GRT) is a community-wide reading experience which engages all of Greenwich in exploring a single book, culminating in a month-long series of special events and programs in the fall. This year’s programming is generously underwritten by The Friends of Greenwich Library.

Over 100 GRT suggestions were submitted by the community to the selection committee. In order to be selected, a book must be of literary quality, reflective of universal issues and capable of generating thought-provoking discussions. It should also lend itself to engaging public programs and appeal to a diverse population. In addition, the book should be currently in print and available in large quantities and multiple formats, and the author must be living.    

The 2017 Selection Committee was led by Byram Shubert Library branch manager Miguel Garcia-Colon and included Moira Danehy, Manager of Lending Services; Amy Fleishman, Community Volunteer; Jeannie Gillespie, Diane’s Books; Joanne Gaither, Assistant Manager of Lending Services; Gene Hayes, Library Clerk; Alice Sherwood, former head of Children’s Services; Carolyn Surgent, Friends of Greenwich Library; Renee Ketcham, Alliance Francaise and the Byram Shubert Library International Book Club; Siobhan Schugmann, Librarian; Tom Moroney, Retired Men’s Association of Greenwich; Adele Teitell, League of Women Voters.

Previous Greenwich Reads Together selections include The Book Thief (2011), Zeitoun (2012), When the Emperor Was Divine (2013), The Boys in the Boat (2014), Americanah (2015) and Station Eleven (2016).

“Community support for and participation in Greenwich Reads Together continues to grow,” said Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, Greenwich Library Director. “We’re proud to facilitate a community conversation inspired by this common reading experience.”

Greenwich Reads Together will take place in October and November 2017. Copies in a variety of formats are available to borrow at Greenwich Library and may also be purchased at local bookstores including Diane’s Books.

For more information, contact Kate Petrov at Greenwich Library at [email protected]

About Greenwich Reads Together

Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience which engages all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. The Steering Committee leading this initiative includes Greenwich Library, Friends of Greenwich Library, Greenwich Alliance for Education, Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich Pen Women, Greenwich Public and Independent Schools, Perrot Memorial Library, and Retired Men’s Association of Greenwich. In 2016, almost 20 community organizations and more than 7,500 Greenwich residents participated in events around Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Numerous adult, children and teen book discussions were held across Greenwich. For more information, visit www.greenwichreadstogether.org.

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