With its 2019-20 selection, the Campus Community Book Project is inviting everyone to delve into the issue of gun violence in the United States, in part by reading the stories of every child and teenager who died in a single day in 2013 — a total of 10.
Journalist Gary Younge provides this up-close-and-personal look in Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives. He will be at UC Davis on Monday, March 2, 2020, to participate in a free forum in the afternoon and give an evening talk, with both events taking place at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
Other programming, such as lectures, panels, book discussions, exhibitions and films, will start in the fall and extend into the new year (see below for information on how you can be involved in the planning), and instructors are encouraged to incorporate the book into their courses.
The 10 victims of Nov. 23-24, 2013, were among more than 11,000 people of all ages who died of homicide by firearm that year. (Homicides by firearm reached nearly 14,500 in 2017, the last year for which data are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
“Today more than ever, the issues of violence and especially gun violence demand our attention,” said Megan Macklin, book project coordinator in the Office of Campus Community Relations, explaining the 2019-20 theme of “violence/gun violence.”
Publisher Bold Type Books says of Another Day in the Death of America: “This powerful and moving work puts a human face — a child’s face —on the ‘collateral damage’ of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist.”
Cheryl Bach, a member of the book selection committee, said: “Sadly, years after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, our country has not progressed meaningfully on gun laws, and the violence continues. Mass killings happen with regularity, are widely publicized and make us all take note. Then we are on to the next incident, but nothing seems to change.”
One strength of the book, Bach said, is the author’s selection of a random day to chronicle the lives lost — lives of ordinary people. “Deaths like these do not receive the spotlight, yet each precious life matters to someone,” said Bach, an institutional research analyst in Budget and Institutional Analysis, a unit of Finance, Operations and Administration.
Younge is a columnist for the New York-based weekly newsmagazine The Nation and editor at large for the London-based Guardian newspaper. He is British, of Barbadian descent, has lived in the United States (in Chicago) and has a personal interest in homicide by firearm. “I had skin in the game,” he said. “Black skin in a game where the odds were stacked against it.”
Bach said Younge’s background “gives him perspective on the issue and raises the book’s credibility.”
“Also, he is a great writer and a journalist for The Guardian. My hope is that his wonderful writing style and credentials will draw people into the book, and then they will listen and stay a while.
“Even if only one of these stories impacts the reader, that is enough. Although his book is narrative in explaining the victim’s lives, he inserts his arguments in every story and considers the context that leads to violence.”
The book is set, now comes the related programming — lectures, panels, workshops, book discussions, films, exhibits, performances and more — to be held at UC Davis, UC Davis Health, and in the Davis and Sacramento communities.
A planning committee will convene in June and work through the summer. All students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to assist in this effort. Meetings will be held on the Davis campus, but you are welcome to participate remotely by phone or internet from remote locations.
The first meeting will be from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in 63 Mrak Hall. Interested in participating? Send an email to Megan Macklin, book project coordinator.
Meanwhile, programs continue for The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams — the 2018-19 Campus Community Book Project. See the calendar here.