The Books

The City of East Lansing and Michigan State University  have announced the book selections for the 2016 One Book, One Community program: “Enrique’s Journey” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario and “City of Thorns” by Ben Rawlence.

This year’s theme is “Faces of Migration: The Human Experience” and focuses on the emotions and personal experiences of individuals on migration journeys. The narratives selected this year continue to support the OBOC program’s goal of engaging both residents and MSU students in the collective reading of compelling books that deal with present-day, complex issues.

“Enrique's Journey” by Sonia Nazario

The power of “Enrique’s Journey” is its singular look at the personal experience of one boy, who sets out alone from Honduras to find his mother in the United States. Enrique’s mother left him with relatives as a small child and, as he grows up, all he knows of her is sporadic phone calls and money sent home for food and clothes. With the desperate hope of finding her, Enrique embarks on a harrowing, 2,000-mile journey on the dangerous rooftops of the freight trains speeding north toward the U.S. He makes 11 attempts to reach the U.S. before he is successful, but, as with many migrants, when he arrives, a new struggle begins – the struggle to adapt to life in a foreign land.

Nazario has reported and written for 25 years about social justice issues, first at The Wall Street Journal and later at the Los Angeles Times. Along with her Pulitzer Prize, Nazario’s reporting on situations ranging from drug addiction to hunger and immigration has won her numerous prestigious awards and wide professional recognition. She describes herself as a truth teller who “talks for people who can’t talk for themselves.”

"City of Thorns" by Ben Rawlence

Ben Rawlence’s “City of Thorns” takes readers inside the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya – a City like no other where the citizens survive on rations and luck. Rawlence became a first-hand witness to the strange and desperate land and, in his book, he interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp. Brought to life by the people who call Dadaab home, “City of Thorns” is a lucid, vivid, illuminating and, oftentimes, heartbreaking story of survival.

Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, The London Review of Books and Prospect.