My Year of Meats is Common Reading for Incoming Students

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 12:00pm

For immediate release
July 19, 2005

South Hadley, MA--This summer, members of the Mount Holyoke College incoming class of 2009 are reading Ruth Ozeki's novel My Year of Meats as part of the annual common reading.

Ruth Ozeki is an award-winning filmmaker and novelist whose work has been characterized by USA Today as "ardent and passionate...rare and provocative." Her first novel, My Year of Meats, was published in 1998 by Viking Penguin and has garnered glowing reviews, awards, and a still-growing readership.

"[The novel] moves gracefully through themes of race, culture, global commerce, the nature of representation, the safety of food, capitalism, family, health, and sex," Mount Holyoke President Joanne V. Creighton wrote in a note to new students. "Like college itself, it shows that discovering new intellectual terrain is both deep and fun, and that often a good question is more important than a definitive answer."

A poignant and funny tale about global meat and media production, My Year of Meats tells the story of Jane and Akiko, two women on opposite sides of the planet, whose lives are connected by a TV cooking show. My Year of Meats was an international success, translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. It won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award, the Imus/Barnes and Noble American Book Award, and a Special Jury Prize of the World Cookbook Awards in Versailles. In 2003, Ozeki published her second novel, the widely praised All Over Creation.

On Thursday, September 15, Ozeki will discuss her novel at 7:30 p.m. in Chapin Auditorium in Mary Woolley Hall. The event will be free and open to the public. A week previous, on Thursday, September 8, a panel of Mount Holyoke faculty members (the make-up of which is still being determined) will discuss the novel; this will also take place at 7:30 p.m. at Gamble Auditorium. Ozeki has strong ties to the Pioneer Valley. She is a 1980 graduate of Smith College, and her mother, Masako Yokoyama Lounsbury, was a Mount Holyoke alumna of the class of 1940.

Since 2000, Mount Holyoke’s new students have taken part in a common reading as part of the College’s orientation program, receiving copies of the selected book during the summer and participating in discussions after their arrival on campus. The reading helps new students make the transition into the College community by connecting them with other students and to the intellectual life of the campus. Faculty members are encouraged to incorporate the book into their courses.

Previous common readings have been Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi (2004), The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (2003), Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich (2002), How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alvarez (2001), and Refuge, by Terry Tempest Williams (2000).