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K-State Today

March 17, 2021

K-State First Book selects 'The Marrow Thieves' as 2021 common book

Submitted by Jennifer Tidball

The Marrow Thieves book cover

Kansas State University and K-State First have selected "The Marrow Thieves" by Cherie Dimaline as the 2021 university common book

"The Marrow Thieves" is an award-winning and bestselling novel that tells the story of a dystopian future where humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming. The protagonist, Frenchie, struggles to survive in a world where the Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream.  

K-State First Book will celebrate the 2021 selection in the fall semester with multiple in-person and virtual events, including an online visit with the author. More event information will be shared as details are finalized. 

A virtual information session for faculty and staff will be from 12:15-12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. The session will help faculty and staff learn more about "The Marrow Thieves" and how to incorporate the book into their classes and programs. The session will be held through Zoom and interested faculty and staff can register to attend at tinyurl.com/ksfbookinfo2021

"'The Marrow Thieves' tackles serious and consequential social issues, such as climate change, racism and social justice, for example. Yet it is also a genuinely beautiful book about families, extended families of choice and fate, as well as the bonds of friendship, marriage, and love," said Greg Eiselein, professor of English and director of K-State First. "Although 'The Marrow Thieves' is set in a dystopian future, it's really a novel about our past and the problems facing us now. I think our students will find the book relevant and thought provoking." 

K-State First Book, the all-university reading program that is part of K-State First, selects a common book for the academic year and coordinates classroom and campus activities to correspond with the reading. K-State First Book provides incoming students with a shared academic experience that they can discuss with professors, staff, administrators and other students when they arrive on campus. 

The 2021 K-State First Book selection committee — comprised of 36 students, staff, administrators and faculty from two campuses — spent the last six months reading more than 32 books on the theme of "Community": books that introduce readers to the ways we come together to support each other, how we build community and how it changes the world. 

"The selection committee felt this would make a great common book," said Tara Coleman, chair of the K-State First Book committee and associate professor at K-State Libraries. "It's an engaging story that centers Indigenous people and addresses issues students, faculty, and staff want to discuss on campus. It's the first book we've selected by an Indigenous author and will give us an opportunity to make connections between our community and the community of the story." 

K-State First Book will partner with several university and community organizations to coordinate programming for the 2021 common book. Programming partners so far include the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art; the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, or CARE; the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences; the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, or MANRRS, chapter in the College of Agriculture; the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering; Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs; the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections with K-State Libraries; the Staley School of Leadership Studies; the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance; and USD 383. 

Programming partners will plan a lecture, panel or other kind of event that draws on the expertise of that group to help the campus and Manhattan communities experience "The Marrow Thieves" in a new way. K-State First Book will provide publicity support for the event and programming partners receive three to five copies of the 2021 selection to share within their group in advance of the fall semester.  

"The 2021 book selection allows us to continue conversations from the past eleven years of K-State First's common reading program as we explore themes connected to community, family, history, story, and the environment," said Karin Westman, chair of the K-State First Book PR/events committee and department head of English. "Our 2021 selection also asks us to engage directly with the past, present, and future of Indigenous peoples across North America, including here in Kansas."

Interested departments or groups should contact ksbn@k-state.edu to join the effort for the 2021 selection.  

More information about the K-State First Book program, the 2021 book selection and resources for its inclusion in fall activities and classrooms is available at the K-State First Book website, k-state.edu/ksfb.