92Y Reading: Rushdie and Alarcon

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By Reshma Deonarain, staff writer

As the school year takes off and many events are taking place, there was previously the first 92Y Reading of the year that Townsend Harris High School students were invited to. Some students from The Phoenix, the Book Club, and Mr. Dunbar’s Writing Process class attended the event. The reading took place on November 3 and two writers, Salman Rushdie and Daniel Alarcon, discussed their newest novels. This event was held at Kaufmann Concert Hall. Students were able to interact with the authors through a question and answer session.

The reading was part of the Christopher Lightfoot Walker Literature Project. The two main speakers, Rushdie and Alarcon, read part of their novels and talked about themselves. The books, The Golden House by Salman Rushdie and The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcon, are both about U.S. culture and politics.

Salman Rushdie’s novel The Golden House relates back to the way of life in the United States and how people live when they come here. Alarcon’s The King is Always Above the People is more political and tells tales of immigration and other journeys.

THHS students went to the 92Y Reading because the school wanted “to give THHS students and faculty a chance to see these world-renowned writers and ask them their questions in-person,” according to coeditor-in-chief of The Phoenix Aaron Fernando. The reading was interesting and the authors gave insight on their novels. Aaron remarked, “We got to ask the writers our questions before the event and see them read on stage right after. It was truly an unforgettable experience.”

Teachers and advisors such as Rafal Olechowski, Lee Norton from Queens College, Georgia Brandeis, Veronica York, and Brian Sweeney also went to the reading. Ms. Brandeis notes how important it is for students to go to these events so they can become more aware and be inspired. She explains, “A remarkable connection is made when students can see the authors of classic books and actually have the opportunity to speak with them and ask them questions and pick their brains.  As a book lover, I not only think this is so powerful, but also so special.  It allows students to feel that much closer to the possibility of writing and publishing their own work.”

The monthly Phoenix readings at the end of each month are usually for the students. It is a gathering between the THHS students where they listen to their peers or present something themselves. They present poems, short stories, photography, or they sing. This event, however, allowed students to talk to the authors of new novels.

“ELA teachers ask you about what you think the author’s perspective is in books you read. Now you can find out!” Ms. Brandeis concludes.