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Common Read: 2020-2021 When the Emperor Was Divine: Events

Viterbo Events

Viterbo First-Year Experience-Take Flight






August 28, 2020 - 9:00-9:30 AM - Virtual via Zoom

First Lecture (Student Orientation): When the Emperor was Divine - Matthew Bersagel-Braley and Melissa Collum. Watch the Inservice Schedule page for information on how to join the Zoom session.

September 22, 2020 - 7:00 PM - Webinar with Julie Otsuka

A California native, Julie Otsuka studied art as an undergraduate at Yale University, pursuing a career as a painter for several years before turning to fiction writing at age 30. That career change turned out to be a great decision.

Her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine (Knopf, 2002), is about the incarceration of a Japanese-American family during World War II. It has been translated into 11 languages and was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers finalist, and was recently added to the National Endowment for the Arts’ The Big Read Library.

The book is based on Otsuka’s own family history. Her grandfather was arrested by the FBI as a suspected spy for Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and her mother, uncle, and grandmother spent three years in a prison camp in Topaz, Utah. The New York Times called it “a resonant and beautifully nuanced achievement” and USA Today described it as “a gem of a book and one of the most vivid history lessons you’ll ever learn.” It has been assigned to all incoming freshmen at more than 45 colleges and universities and is a regular Community Reads selection across the U.S.

Otsuka, who earned an MFA from Columbia University, is a recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, France’s Prix Femina Étranger, an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Watch the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics Lecture Series page for information on how to watch the webinar.