St. John's nonfiction book, one of four finalists for the 2010 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, is the story of "the Fugees," a team of refugee soccer players, the woman who coaches them and the tiny Georgia town where a United Nations program resettled them.
"'Outcasts United' really gives you a pretty vivid picture of experiences that lead to people being displaced from where they're from, becoming refugees, and their experience when they're in our country," said Associate Provost Rameen Mohammadi, who chairs the college's ORI Committee.
An American author and journalist, St. John is also the author of the national bestseller "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania." The former New York Times reporter also has written for The New Yorker, Wired and Slate.
Since 2000, the Oswego Reading Initiative has asked all incoming students -- as well as any interested faculty, staff and other students -- to read a selected book each summer, supplementing it with a series of programs, including cultural events and talks. SUNY Oswego students have responded positively to "Outcasts United," Mohammadi said.
"Some of our students have already said to us that they found that the book has helped in comforting them as new students in a new place, away from their families, and it didn't seem as difficult to come to college and do those things as much as it must have been for some of these people who have made these huge journeys, from the Middle East, from Africa, wherever they may have displaced from," Mohammadi said.
A cross-campus committee of faculty and staff decides on each ORI book from among nominations that are open to all.
"You want a book that is written at a level appropriate for college, so you want a book with enough complexity and texture in it," Mohammadi said. "The theme, the idea, the purpose really has to be important enough, from the committee's perspective, for what's going on on our campus, in our country and in the world, where you could have rich discussions about it in different disciplines."
St. John will make an additional appearance at 3 p.m. Sept. 28 in Marano Campus Center auditorium as part of SUNY Oswego's Living Writers Series.
Those driving to the event without a current parking sticker should visit oswego.edu/parking for information on obtaining a one-day permit. For more information about the events, contact Mohammadi at [email protected]