‘Ten Little Indians’ is 2016 UM Common Reading Experience Selection

Story collection chosen from among five finalists for consideration

Ten Little IndiansOXFORD, Miss. – “Ten Little Indians,” a collection of poignant and emotionally resonate stories of Native Americans at cultural and personal crossroads, has been chosen for the 2016 Common Reading Experience at the University of Mississippi

All incoming freshmen and transfer students will get copies of the Sherman Alexie book with instructions to read it before the fall semester begins. The text will be used during classes for discussion, and faculty and staff are also encouraged to read the book in an effort to enrich the sense of community.

The committee made an excellent choice, said Kirk A. Johnson, associate professor of sociology and African-American studies and co-chair of the Common Reading Experience selection subcommittee.

“I think students will enjoy the versatility of these very readable stories,” Johnson said. “Some aspects of ‘Ten Little Indians’ are universal; others speak specifically to the Native American condition. Still others speak to many communities of color. There are many points of access in this great collection.”

Faculty, staff and students, as well as alumni and residents of the greater Oxford community, were invited to nominate a suggested title last fall. The committee chose from books that were ideally less than 400 pages, available in paperback, written by a living author and published within the last five years, all to ensure the book is accessible to students and readers in the community.

COMMON_READINGThe other finalists were: “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson, “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” by Kiese Laymon, “Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do” by Claude M. Steele, and “Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal” by Conor Grennan. 

The committee met weekly from October through January to discuss the recommendations. They settled on five books, which committee members all read before selecting “Ten Little Indians” (2004, Grove Press). 

Committee member Michael Howland, coordinator of veteran and military services at the university’s Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, initially reviewed “Ten Little Indians.” He said it’s a great choice for incoming students. 

“This collection of short stories will expose them to an America Indian culture none of them are familiar with, but whose common human issues, like finding themselves at personal and cultural crossroads, will resonate in their own lives,” Howland said. “The nine stories simply speak to things that all human beings go through, and showing young people that they are not alone in the world makes them more aware of it and better able to succeed in it.”

This will be the sixth Common Reading Experience at UM. The 2015 Common Reading Experience selection was “The Education of a Lifetime,” a memoir by Robert Khayat, UM chancellor emeritus. 

Previous selections are “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot (2011), “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” by UM associate professor Tom Franklin (2012), “The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education” by Craig Mullaney (2013) and “The Girls of Atomic City” by Denise Kiernan (2014).