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Guide to CWRU Common Reading 2022

Research Services Librarian

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Jacey Kepich

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Common Reading


Peter Ho Davies' The Fortunes will be CWRU's common reading book for incoming first-year students. The common reading selection is part of the First-Year Experience Program, which is committed to helping new students successfully begin their transition from high school to Case Western Reserve University. 

About the Author

Davies was born in the United Kingdom to a Welsh father and a Chinese mother. His novel The Fortunes won the Anisfield-Wolf Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He is also the author of The Welsh Girl, long-listed for the Booker Prize and a London Times bestseller, as well as two critically acclaimed collections of short stories. His fiction has appeared in HarpersThe AtlanticThe Paris Review, and Granta and been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.


Hear Davies read a portion of The Fortunes as part of a virtual conversation hosted by CWRU. The author's narration lasts from 7:07 through 36:06.

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Cover Summary

Sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured, The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience. Inhabiting four lives--a railroad baron's valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor; Hollywood's first Chinese movie star; a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes the Asian American community; and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption--this novel captures and capsizes over a century of our history, showing that even as family bonds are denied and broken, a community can survive--as much through love as blood.