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Spotlight: On the List

Books for Our Times

We asked three English faculty to share the books that best embody our times and open minds to new ways of thinking.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-BrenyahAssociate Professor, Sylvia Lee:

"Friday Black" by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

“From the opening lines, the stories in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s ‘Friday Black' issues its challenge to readers: will you look or will you turn away? For those who choose to read on and in turn see, each subsequent story in this collection holds a cracked and fragmented mirror up to the society we have made. Through the broken edges of hurt, however, Adjei-Brenyah’s collection offers hope, not reducing the world only to dystopian visions, but holding the tension of humanity and brutality together, if only we will choose to see.” 

To hear more about “Friday Black,” listen to Bookish: The Casual Book Club podcast with professors Kofi Adisa, Sylvia Lee, and Laura Yoo at 

Azazeel by Youssef ZiedanProfessor Rahlim Salih:

"Azazeel" by Youssef Ziedan

“Recently, historical novels have emerged as a creative solution to exploring the true nature of the past.

Historical novelists often convert historical figures into characters who speak freely despite the strict anchors of the official historical record.‘Azazeel,’ written by Youssef Ziedan, depicts historical events and historical figures during early fifth century Egypt, Levant and Turkey. The protagonist, Hypa, is an Egyptian monk retelling the origins of religious violence during early Christianity.”

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-JooAssociate Professor, SANDRA Lee:

"Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982" by Cho Nam-Joo

“Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982"by Cho Nam-Joo is a translated South Korean literature published in English in 2020. The book narrates experiences of an ordinary woman in different periods of her life that reveal the reasons for her mysterious condition. The title name, Kim Jiyoung, was the most common name for girls born in 1982, representing the shared experiences of women. The unique style of the novel and the rise in feminist literature in South Korea are notable.”  

For more information about any of these books, please contact the English and World Languages Division at DHDivisionOffice@

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