Professors from the Division of English Language and Literature have read an uncountable number of books as professionals who have been studying and teaching English. Ewha Voice asked two professors from the division, Professors Peter Kipp and Julie Choi, to introduce books they would like to recommend.
Kim Stanely Robinson’s “New York 2140”
“New York 2140,” written by Kim Stanely Robinson, was recommended by Professor Peter Kipp. “New York 2140” is a science fiction novel depicting New York in the year 2140. Kim Stanely Robinson is an American writer of science fiction who was named “Hero of the Environment” for his optimistic focus on the future by Time magazine in 2008.
“The book is a good literature which has brilliant descriptions, interesting characters, and a tight plot with a lot of twists and dramatic turns,” Professor Kipp said. “There are a lot of political, economic, social, and environmental issues that are troubling us right now. In ‘New York 2140,’ Robinson paints a realistic vision of how those might come together in the future. It is all woven together in a compelling and positive way.”
Professor Kipp recommended “New York 2140” especially to those interested in contemporary issues, as the book deals with diverse subject matter including capitalism, climate change, over consumption, social media, stock speculation, the gap between the rich and poor, and the real economy versus the paper economy. Professor Kipp explains that Robinson does a superb job of not just connecting those matters but also explaining them. “New York 2140” leads readers into wondering about the possibility of social change, imagining a different world.
When asked about his favorite quote of the book, Professor Kipp replied “Individuals make history, but it’s also a collective thing. A wave that people ride in their time, a wave made of individual actions.”
Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah”
Professor Julie Choi’s book recommendations are two novels she had read over the winter vacation because her eldest daughter, who is in her twenties and is an avid reader, recommended them to her. Professor Choi had been looking for pleasure, which she describes to be a fun page turner where she can immerse herself into the story. The two novels, “Normal People” by Sally Rooney and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, turned out to be just that and she was not able to put the novels down.
“By coincidence, these two novels have much in common, so I would like to suggest reading them one after the other,” Professor Choi said. “I cannot give justice here to the beauty of both writers’ prose, intelligence, verve, and passion. The issue of class is prominent in ‘Normal People’ and that of race in ‘Americanah.’ What renders the two novels similar is their tender depiction of the vulnerable yet abiding power of young love. The young lovers are searching for better models for living even while fostering each other despite misunderstandings and mistakes that sometimes separate them.”
“Normal People,” according to Professor Choi, focuses on Connell, a popular boy from high school, who is attracted to the most unpopular girl in his class, Marianne. Both Marianne and Connell are smart, passionate readers who eventually go to the same prestigious university, Trinity College in Ireland. Then, Marianne blossoms into a popular and immensely desirable young woman, all the while Connell feels like a permanent outsider surviving on the edge through his connection with Marianne.
The two young protagonists in “Americanah,” Ifemelu and Obinze, also meet in a high school but this time in Nigeria. The two are drawn to each other and also decide to attend the same university. Because of the strikes resulting from political turbulence, university life disillusions the young people. Ifemelu makes the first exit by going to the United States and much of the novel follows her journey there. She becomes an undocumented immigrant who is reduced to offering sexual services to a successful blogger speaking out as a non-American “black” and reflecting on the intricacies of racial difference. Obinze eventually makes it to England undocumented and becomes evicted by authorities for working with false papers.
“Rooney is still in her twenties and Adichie is a little older but she was young enough too to be able to capture the sheer miracle of connecting withanother person in that tender moment where transformation is still a realizable dream,” Professor Choi said. “I should not be exposing how the stories end, but in these two novels, true love triumphs. If you like love stories, I strongly recommend these two tales written by two of the most talented young writers in the English language today.”