We are excited to welcome the return of The Big Read – an initiative shared between Edge Hill University, Kingston University and St George’s University. The scheme seeks to encourage and develop connections in the university community and particularly support our new students as they settle in.

Just as many of you might be developing your confidence, the characters in this year’s book, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu, are also grappling with questions of identity and belonging.

This award-winning novel introduces us to a half-Nigerian, teenage woman called Nnenna. Nnenna is living in modern day Manchester with her British mother, Joanie, and is asking questions about her paternal Igbo heritage, despite having never met her biological father. In a parallel narrative, we learn the love story of her mother and Maurice, an evangelical Christian and Nigerian graduate of Cambridge University in the early nineties. Through this emotional story of youth, race, and sexuality, we learn that Nnenna is not the only one searching for a sense of self and asking questions about how to “be”.

There are lots of ways you can take part in this year’s Big Read initiative…

You can collect your *free* copy of the book from the Catalyst Help Desk or from one of the 6 drop-off boxes distributed across the campus. Once you have finished, we are encouraging everyone to pass their copy on or drop it back for someone else to pick up and read.

You can join in with the Online Student Book Club on Monday 14th February, where we’ll be discussing the questions at the back of the book, including for example:

  • Many of the characters in the novel talk about their university experiences. Did their stories make you excited or nervous to start?

  • This book has been described as an anti-racist novel. Do you agree? How do you think we can be anti-racist in our daily lives?

  • A big theme in the book is identity” ‘Lost. I feel lost. And I can’t see how I’m supposed to get un-lost…’ (p.297). Where do you think identity comes from and at what age is it acquired?

You can book your place by visiting: www.ehu.ac.uk/workshops

You also have the opportunity to meet the author, Okechukwu Nzelu, ask him a question and have your book signed in person when he joins us on campus for an exclusive ‘In Conversation With…’ event on Thursday 10th February at 2pm in the Arts Centre.

Book your free tickets here

We can’t wait to hear what you think!