Heads up, freshmen: K-State’s 2019 KSBN common read book is officially here

The cover of "Darius the Great Is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram. (Courtesy Photo by Random House)

The Kansas State Book Network announced Thursday morning that K-State’s official common read book for 2019 is “Darius the Great Is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram, an author based in the Kansas City area.

The novel tells the story of Darius Kellner, an Iranian-American high school student, navigating his first experience traveling abroad to visit his family in Iran. Kellner struggles with adjusting to a new culture, mental health, body image and more.

“It’s a chance to talk about really powerful issues,” said Greg Eiselein, professor of English and director of the K-State First freshman experience program.

Tara Coleman, associate professor with K-State Libraries and KSBN committee chair, said the committee decided on “Darius the Great Is Not Okay” because “it allows us to experience his life through a mirror or a window and gives us the opportunity to talk about a variety of subjects.”

The committee pointed to six different themes that faculty could consider “points of engagement” with students. The list included themes of identity, design, food, sports, stories and mental health. The novel speaks on a wide range of topics, from nationality to “Star Trek” to the cultural perceptions of mental health.

Brent Weaver, KSBN committee member and graduate student in counseling and student development, said the book “not only talks about really crucial themes, but did so in a really accessible way.”

Freshman students will be provided a copy of the book at orientation and all students are encouraged to read the novel, which can be accessed in multiple forms through K-State Libraries and other outside sources. The K-State First office plans to include the book in a lending library.

Faculty members are encouraged to integrate the book into their fall courses, and the KSBN committee is working with faculty members to find cuts of the story and different ways to incorporate “Darius the Great Is Not Okay” into all course material.

The committee is pairing with many on-campus groups to create conversations using the novel, and it hopes to have related events throughout the year.

“It gives us a chance to think about how we experience our lives through other people’s stories,” said Karin Westman, KSBN committee member and head of the Department of English.

For more information, visit KSBN’s webpage.