WWU Plans Events to Promote One Read ‘Ruins of Us’ Novel

William Woods University faculty and staff have planned a number of activities during September in conjunction with the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s One Read program. This year’s book, chosen by a public vote, is “The Ruins of Us,” a novel by Keija Parrsinen.

Parrsinens was born and raised in Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States in the early ’90s. She studied at Princeton University, the 92nd Street Y Poets House and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A recipient of the Michener-Copernicus award for the “The Ruins of Us,” she lives in Columbia, Mo., where she serves as the director to the Quarry Heights Writers’ Workshop. One Read, now in its 12th year, is a community-wide reading program that encourages adults of all ages to read one
book and participate in thought-provoking discussion and activities. All events are free and open to the public.

“The Ruins of Us” takes readers on a journey to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where an American-born wife, Rosalie, discovers that her powerful husband, Abdullah Baylani, has taken a second wife. The knowledge makes her contemplate escaping both the marriage and the country she has grown to love. While chaos wedges the family apart, their 16-year-old son, Faisal, becomes involved with a controversial sheikh.

A timely story of intolerance, family, and injustices, “The Ruins of Us” proves to be a new voice in contemporary fiction. Following is a list of One Read activities planned at William Woods University. All events take place at 7 p.m. in the Library Auditorium unless otherwise noted.

Sept. 9— “The Light in Her Eyes” “The Light in Her Eyes,” set in Syria, offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their dreams. Dr. Greg Smith, associate professor of English and film, will lead the discussion.

Sept. 11— The Fight for Custody, 4 p.m. in the Model Courtroom. Cynthia Kramer, an attorney and WWU legal studies chair, will compare custody arrangements in the U.S. to the legal issues Rosalie faces in “The Ruins of Us.”

Sept. 16— Third Culture Kids, 3:30 p.m. Keija Parssinen, author of “The Ruins of Us,” will talk about American children raised abroad—what they are, what they are like and how they influenced the novel. Dr. Matt Dube, assistant professor of English, will lead the discussion.

Sept. 17—Book Talk with Claudia Starr, 6:30-8 p.m.,Well Read Books, 519 Court St. Former Middle East resident and recent chair of the equestrian studies division at William Woods, Claudia Starr, will lead a discussion of “The Ruins of Us.” Starr is now executive director of the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce. Share your insights, reflections and impressions of the book and hear her first-hand accounts of life in that part of the world.

Sept. 18— Readers Theater, 3 p.m. Betsy Tutt, professor of education, will collaborate with her speech students and give a reader’s theater presentation based on the book, “The Ruins of Us.”

Sept. 19— Exploring the Writing Style and Plot Structure of the Ruins of Us Dr. Erik Hillskemper, assistant professor of English, will explore the writing style and plot structure of “The Ruins of Us.”

Sept. 21—Mosaic Magic, 9-11 a.m., Farmer’s Market, 5th St. between Market & Court. This year’s One Read selection is set in Saudi Arabia, so we’re exploring all aspects of Middle Eastern culture. Children can make a colorful, cut-paper mosaic to take home, with help from members of T.A.G. (William Woods’ Thriving Artist Group) in collaboration with the Mildred Cox Gallery’s Kemper Kids.

Sept. 25— Half Truths, Insane Ideas, Gas Masks and Scud Missiles Dr. Steve Huenneke, assistant professor of economics, will reflect upon the economic and cultural background at the root of conflicts in the Middle East. This will be a multi-media time capsule presentation of life in middle America during the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, inspired by five different passages in “The Ruins of Us.”

Sept. 26— One Read Art Reception, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Kemper Art Center Corridor Gallery
View students’ collage/prints that explore the idea of home, of leaving and returning in a personal way. Artwork was created by Terry Martin’s students in conjunction with the One Read art exhibit theme, Home.

Sept. 26— One Read Author’s Visit One Read author Keija Parssinen steps up to the podium to talk about growing up in Saudi Arabia and how it inspired her to write her debut novel, “The Ruins of Us.” She’ll also speak to writing as a craft, answer your questions and sign copies of her book, following her talk.