“As a graphic novel, it adds a new dimension to our list of Common Reading selections,” said Julie Voelker-Morris, Common Reading program faculty fellow and a senior instructor in arts and administration. “It speaks very directly to a college age group. Many of our students, in different majors and from different backgrounds, have grown up reading, writing and drawing graphic novels and comics.”
“The Best We Could Do” is a memoir that follows Bui’s family as they escape the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced in trying to build a new life.
“The story offers an evocative memoir about the search for a better future by seeking to understand the past,” Voelker-Morris said. The Common Reading theme for next year is “Transborder/Transnational.”
“This book invites campus conversations about immigration, war, imperialism and refugee status,” she said. “It reminds us of the often hidden, even forgotten histories of Asian migration, labor and community, as well as the frequent accompanying history of violence and disruption against these communities. It is important for the UO community to understand the Vietnam War and consider ways in which it applies to our own era.”
The campus community is encouraged to develop programming and curriculum around “The Best We Could Do.” Programs featuring visiting scholars, artists, book clubs and exhibits are in the planning stage.
The book, which is a national bestseller, was recently selected by the University of California, Los Angeles for its 2018 common book program.