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Sept. 28, 2012
CONTACT: K. E. Schwab

SRU Asia Reading Club keeps current

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Anyone looking to expand their understanding of the Far East, its rich culture, history, literature or even daily life, in both fiction and non-fiction form is welcome to join Slippery Rock University's Asian Reading Club.

The faculty-formed club meets the first Thursday of the month in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center. The club's next meeting is at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 4.

Currently headed by Aiping Chen-Gaffey, an assistant professor in Bailey Library and a member since 2002, the book club "offers lively discussions about a book chosen the month before... well, really we now choose three books in advance," she said.

Chen-Gaffey, who joined the SRU faculty in 2001, said the reading group actually dates to the early 1990s and was initially funded by SRU's Office of Academic Affairs.

"We usually have eight to a dozen members attending, but have had as many as 16 people participate. The basis is SRU faculty, but they are joined by members from Butler and Grove City."

The club was formed to read and discuss books about Asia, Chen-Gaffey said.

The reading group has already covered such works as: "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," by Katherine Boo; "Across Many Mountains," by Yangzom Brauen; "Three Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin; "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel," by Lisa See; "Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire," by Alex Von Tunzelmann; "The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq," by Rory Stewart; "River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze," by Peter Hessler; and "Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan," by Bruce Feiler.

"The way we select the group's books for review is by gathering recommendations of titles and reviews that allow everyone to join in the selection process," she said.

Upcoming selections include: "Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language," by Deborah Fallows, which explains her Chinese learning experience and her daily life in China and how daily life affects the language. "It is really a book about the culture," Chen-Gaffey said.

The group's November selection is "The Glass Palace," by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh, that Chen-Gaffey said is a historic novel about Burma, Bengal, India and Malaya and deals with the fall of the Konbaung Dynasty in Mandalay through World War II. The December selection is "No god by God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam," by Reza Aslan. Published in 2005, the book details how Allah differs from the God of Jews and Christians.

She said the reading list runs the gamut from fiction to non-fiction to scholarly works.

Call Chen-Gaffey at 724.738.2660 is you have questions or would like to join.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.