Global Literature Online Book Group


The Global Studies Outreach Committee is excited to announce the 2014-2015 Global Literature Online Book Group for Educators (GLOBE), the focus of which is crossing borders in time and place. GLOBE allows participants to discuss contemporary fiction that uses memory and travel to explore individual and social change.

The four book choices illustrate that memories of the past shape the lives of individuals around the globe. In our first book, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, a Chechen man is surrounded by the legacies of war and works to understand the personal impact of a public fight. In our second book, The Sound of Things Falling, a young law professor in Colombia becomes entangled in the shadows surrounding the country’s illicit drug trade. In Brooklyn Heights, an Egyptian woman living in Brooklyn recalls her past with her Bedouin family. As the series concludes, we will depart from Northern India to join an epic journey across oceans and throughout the 19th century opium trade in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies.

In each live, online conversation you will hear from two regions or disciplines in conversation, as we explore regional context and history through contemporary narrative. Each session will include the opportunity for participant discussion and Q&A through video, audio, and text. Guiding questions and learning goals will be provided prior to each session, as well as accompanying non-fiction texts for suggested use in the classroom.

Read more about this program in a recent Gazette article!


Registration is now open for our first session on A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.


January 22, 2015 (7pm EST) – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Featuring the author Anthony Marra and Russian journalist and Nieman Fellow Irina Gordienko

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program.

New York Times and Washington Post bestseller and a National Book Awards Longlist Selection novel

Synopsis: Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods of rural Chechnya and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

Registration is now open for this session! The first 10 K-12 teachers to register will receive a complimentary copy of the novel. Register here.


April 30, 2015 (7pm EST) – The Sound of Things Falling

Featuring Julian Urrutia, Candidate for PhD in Health Policy, Harvard School of Public Health.

Sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Harvard Global Health Institute

National Bestseller and winner of the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Synopsis: In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past.


July 26, 2015 (7pm EST) – Brooklyn Heights

Sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for African Studies

Winner of the 2010 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature and shortlisted for the 2011 Arabic Booke Prize, this novel has recently been translated for an English-speaking audience.

Synopsis: Hind, newly arrived in New York with her eight-year-old son, several suitcases of unfinished manuscripts, and hardly any English, finds a room in a Brooklyn teeming with people like her who dream of becoming writers. As she discovers the various corners of her new home, they conjure up parallel memories from her childhood and her small Bedouin village in the Nile Delta: Emilia who sells used shoes at the flea market smells like Zeinab, the old woman who worked for Hind’s grandfather; the reflection of her own body as she dances tango awakens the awkwardness of her relationship to that body across the years; the story of Lilette, the Egyptian bourgeoisie who has lost her memory, prompts Hind to safeguard her own.


October 2015 (7pm EST) – Sea of Poppies

Sponsored by the Asia Center and the South Asia Institute

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Synopsis: At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton.

Recordings of Past Sessions

These recordings will launch through Flash as an AdobeConnect recording and may take a minutes to load.

Sweetness in the Belly with author Camilla Gibb and Professor William Granara.

In the Time of the Butterflies with author Julia Alvarez and Professor Glenda Carpio.  (Audio recording)

Kamikaze Girls with Professor Tomiko Yoda

The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo with Professor David R. McCannh

The Accompanist with Professor Julie Buckler

Purple Hibiscus with Professor Akua Sarr and PhD student Kristen Roupenian