Summer Reading

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The Luther College Paideia program is excited to announce the 2021 campus and community-wide summer read, Brit Bennett’s 2020 novel The Vanishing Half.

You may purchase the book through the Luther College Book Shop (ISBN-13: 978-0525536291). You will need to complete your reading of The Vanishing Half  before you arrive on campus in August.

Summer Reading Guide

The Vanishing Half  is the first reading assignment for Paideia 111. For background and study questions to guide your reading and prepare for class discussions, see the 2021 Paideia Summer Reading Guide.

About the book

The book imagines the lives of two identical African-American sisters, one of whom “vanishes” and chooses in her adult life to pass as white. In following the paths of these sisters and their own daughters, the book explores systemic racism and divisions and connections across socio-economic class, gender identity, and generations. The book was nominated for the National Book Award, and named by The New York Times as one of the top 10 books of 2020.  

About the author

When Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers was published in the fall of 2016, critics and readers were immediately dazzled by this exciting new voice in literary fiction. Bennett was named a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation and the book was longlisted for the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

In the New York Times #1 bestseller and Good Morning America June Book Club pick, The Vanishing Half, Bennett returns the readers to California for another emotionally perceptive story. This engrossing page-turner, longlisted for both the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, explores the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations. In her talks and her work, she examines the role writing plays in documenting racial injustice and contemporary Black experience.

While an undergraduate at Stanford, she won the Bocock/ Guerard and Robert M. Golden Thesis prizes for her fiction. Earning her MFA at University of Michigan, she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/ Wright Award in College Writing.