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Eric Liu
Eric Liu

KNOXVILLE— An election year is the perfect time consider what it means to be American.

With that in mind, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has chosen The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker by Eric Liu as next year’s common reading selection for its Life of the Mind program.

“I invite the campus community to join the Class of 2016 in reading the book and participating in the discussion and related activities,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Martin, who recently announced the book selection on behalf of the Life of the Mind committee.

Martin said the book will provide a good platform for discussion.

“In what President John F. Kennedy once called a nation of immigrants, questions remain: Is ‘Americanness’ something one is or does? What do our multiracial identities—African-American, Asian-American, Chinese-American, etc.—say about how we make sense of the world around us?

“These are among the questions our freshmen will explore next year in the Life of the Mind program,” she said.

The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, was a New York Times Notable Book and was featured in the PBS documentary Matters of Race. It is an essay montage with themes ranging from race, language, and global politics to the feelings of inadequacy and ambivalence that often accompany the college transition.

Liu, a second-generation Chinese American, is a graduate of Yale and Harvard and a former speechwriter and deputy domestic policy adviser for President Bill Clinton.

His other books include The True Patriot and The Gardens of Democracy, both co-authored with Nick Hanauer; Guiding Lights: How to Mentor and Find Life’s Purpose, which was named the official book of National Mentoring Month; and Imagination First, co-authored with Scott Noppe-Brandon of the Lincoln Center Institute, which explores ways to unlock imagination in education, politics, business and the arts.

Liu lives in Seattle, where he also teaches at the University of Washington and leads the Guiding Lights Network, a national mentoring organization dedicated to promoting great citizenship. He also hosts an acclaimed television interview program called Seattle Voices.

Liu has served on the boards of the Washington State Board of Education, the Seattle Public Library, Demos, Washington State Mentors, the League of Education Voters, and the Swedish Medical Center Foundation. He has served on the national leadership councils of Communities in Schools and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

C O N T A C T :

Elizabeth Schonagen (865-974-3523,