What happens when we leave home—when we take a person out of place and the place out of a person? Exit West, TU’s first-ever Common Read, explores both questions. We are always, it seems, both escaping and arriving in equal measure. When we walk away from something, we’re walking towards something else. Anxiety mixes with excitement as a new sense of self emerges from our rootedness in the past and our openness to the future.
The book encourages us to think about strangers, refugees, friends, faith, and family. In our digital and global condition, we are, all the time, becoming—becoming ourselves and becoming others.
Such challenges become particularly pressing at the start of college, when we are everywhere surrounded by new people, places, and ideas. Amid the frenzy of those first few weeks, the Common Read program provides a shared intellectual touchstone. Working with faculty, peer-mentors, and advisors, new students will explore the book’s often challenging ideas starting in orientation, continuing across specially designed programs throughout the year, and culminating in a spring visit by the author.
Common Read activities will be overseen by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, a TU-based research institute that hosts lectures, concerts, exhibitions and other events. The center’s 2022-23 theme is freedom. Sean Latham, the center’s director, calls Exit West “an extraordinary work of creativity that dares us to imagine a new world without ever losing sight of the irreducible yet vital differences that define our human condition.”