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K-State Today

April 26, 2019

K-State Book Network 2019 book selected

Submitted by Karin Westman

Darius the Great Is Not Okay cover

The K-State Book Network announces the book selection for 2019: "Darius the Great Is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram.

Khorram's award-winning novel tells the story of a high school sophomore Darius Kellner, a Persian American teen who balances diagnosed depression with a love for "Star Trek" and tea. A visit to his mother's family in Iran offers Darius new ways to understand himself, his family and what he calls home.

The 2019 selection emerged as the favorite following campuswide conversations and review by the KSBN selection committee, comprised of 60 students, staff, administrators and faculty from colleges and units across the university's campuses. The committee reviewed over 35 books on the themes of advocacy and resiliency for well-being before selecting Khorram's novel.

"With increasing reports of mental health concerns in campus mental health centers, 'Darius the Great is Not Okay,' while funny and entertaining, will help us address mental health in a way that is accessible and empowering," said Brent Weaver, learning assistant coordinator for K-State First and member of the selection committee. "On a personal note, as someone with generalized anxiety disorder, I find the novel's take on mental health to be refreshing, as it breaks down stigmas associated with mental illness across cultural contexts."

Melissa King, the groups coordinator for Counseling Services and selection committee member, shares Weaver's excitement about the novel and his assessment of its strengths.

"There is a lot to learn in this book related to mental health, religion, sexuality, culture, what it's like to live in-between cultures — being both, but neither, and the intersections of these identities and experiences," King said. "I'm looking forward to the conversations that may stem from this book — that we may be able to acknowledge when we are not okay and learn ways to seek support as well as learning signs that our friends and colleagues are not okay and how to support them."

"We are very excited about the selection of a book by a local author, Adib Khorram, of Kansas City, and an emerging star in the literary world," said Greg Eiselein, professor of English and director of K-State First. "Our selection committee has found a refreshing novel that will give our students a chance to think about how and why life can change for the better."

KSBN hopes to build on the energy from the 2018 selection "The Hate U Give" in its fall programming for "Darius the Great Is Not Okay," which reviewers have compared favorably to Angie Thomas' novel.

"In addition to hosting Adib Khorram on campus, we're looking forward to a semester of campus- and community-wide programming with a broad range of partners, including the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs, the Office of Student Life, Counseling Services, the LGBT Resource Center, and Manhattan Public Library," said Karin Westman, chair of the KSBN PR/events committee and department head of English. "We encourage members of the K-State and Manhattan communities to contact KSBN when they organize an event that resonates with 'Darius the Great Is Not Okay' and its themes of identity, design, food, sports, stories, and mental health and well-being, so we can recognize their contribution to the conversation."

For more information about K-State Book Network, the 2019 book selection, and resources for its inclusion in fall activities and classrooms, visit the KSBN website.