2015-2017 UAA/APU Books of the Year


The Color of Water:
A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
by James McBride

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

by Jamie Ford

Everyone must "negotiate" and shape their identity as they grow up, age, and adapt to fate and circumstance. Together, these books offer timeless and relevant themes of individual and collective identity in America--themes that continue to be important to our communities, state, and nation.


The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride.
This memoir explores various aspects of personal identity through stories of the author's mother and of his own experiences growing up in Brooklyn's Red Hook projects. Grappling with his own identity, McBride, as an adult, persuaded his mother to tell her story--of a Rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put twelve children through college. The Color of Water is is a tribute to a remarkable and determined mother, a large contentious family--and an exploration of the many ways to be an American.


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  This historical novel is about the Japanese internment during WWII. Set in the Pacific Northwest, it is a story of loyalty--to one's country and to one's culture, traditions, and family. It is a also a story of the immigrant experience, how politics and war can question and shape one's identity, and the power that individuals have to create their own place in the world.

Faculty Steering Committee
- Anna Bjartmarsdottir, UAA
- Rhonda Johnson, UAA
- Sarah Kirk, UAA
- Kristen Knudsen, UAA
- Gina Miller, APU
- Stephanie Morgan, APU
- Kimberly Pace, UAA
- Emily Paul, UAA

Of Interest

How Immigrants Come to Be Seen as Americans
A New York Times  2012 "Room for Debate" forum featuring eight essays from differing perspectives on how immigrants identify as Americans. Contributors write in response to the questions "Why are some immigrants and their descendents considered simply "American," while others are still thought of as "outsiders"? How does an immigrant group come to be thought of as native?" How is this topic relevant in our community?

The Year We Obsessed Over Identity
2015's headlines and cultural events have confronted us with the malleability of racial, gender, sexual and reputational lines. Who do we think we are?