2019–20 KU Common Book Lecture with Kiese Laymon

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation

Kiese Laymon, celebrated author and contributor to the 2019–20 KU Common Book, Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, will present the fall keynote lecture for the University of Kansas’s Common Book program.

Laymon’s essay in Tales of Two Americas, “Outside,” addresses the outcomes of mass incarceration in America and is typical of his writing style—observant, perceptive, and powerful.

Susan Klusmeier, Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies will give opening remarks and Jennifer Ng, Interim Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, will introduce the speaker. On Friday, October 4, Laymon will participate in a moderated Q&A period beginning at 10 am in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union with Cody Charles, Associate Director for Diversity Education and Social Justice Programs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

In addition to his contributions to Tales of Two Americas, Laymon is the author of Heavy: An American Memoir, which was awarded the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose. Heavy was named a best book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. He is also the author of the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America (2013) and the novel Long Division (2013). Among other publications, Laymon has written for Gawker, Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, NPR, Colorlines, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Guernica, The Oxford American, and Lit Hub.

The KU Common Book program connects first-year students to the campus community through discussion and lectures. Tales of Two Americas will be used in over 100 sections of classes this fall.

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