RIT Hosts ‘If All of Rochester Read the Same Book…’ Event March 29

Author Debra Dean will read, sign books and answer audience questions

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Author Debra Dean will read excerpts from The Madonnas of Leningrad at RIT March 29. Dean’s book is this year’s choice for “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book….”

It’s like Oprah’s Book Club—but on a slightly smaller scale. “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book…,” sponsored by Writers & Books, is celebrating its 12th year of encouraging people to connect with others in the Rochester community through reading and discussion. Rochester Institute of Technology will host Debra Dean, the author of this year’s selection, at 6 p.m. March 29 in the Campus Center Reading Room. The free event will feature readings from this year’s selection, The Madonnas of Leningrad, a question-and-answer session and a book signing.

The Madonnas of Leningrad is a narrative that follows two time periods in the life of its aging female protagonist—her present life as a wife, mother and grandmother in the United States, which is colored by her symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and her past life as a young woman in Europe in World War II, specifically her time supporting the efforts to safeguard the priceless artwork of the Hermitage in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and giving tours of the empty museum.

“We selected The Madonnas of Leningrad for this year’s program because of the rich tapestry of art and humanity woven by Debra Dean in her novel,” says Karen vanMeenen, lecturer in RIT’s English department and director of special projects at Writers & Books. “The book touches on a range of human experiences from suffering and survival during wartime to love to loss to family legacies to art history—as well as the contemporary plague of dementia—all related in a sensitive narrative conveyed in beautiful prose. Having RIT host our visiting author for the first time is very exciting, especially with a book that appeals to such a broad readership and interdisciplinary interests.”

Dean’s debut novel is a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, a Borders Original Voice selection, a Booklist Top 10 novel and an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. It has been published in 17 languages. Dean’s second novel, The Mirrored World, is due out this summer.

Go to www.wab.org for more information about “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book…”