Author Nezhukumatathil selected for ‘common read’

Cameron Gary, Reporter

Author Aimee Nezhukumatathil will join a storied history at Sierra Nevada University, as the featured “common read” author for 2021, with her acclaimed novel “World of Wonders.” She will also headline a Writers in the Woods reading and workshop Sept. 24-25.
Her New York Times best-selling book is an exciting collection of non-fiction creative essays that June Saraceno, SNU’s humanities department chair, calls, “descriptive, colorful, and interesting.” In addition to SNU, the book is being featured as a common read by Nevada Humanities, a council that promotes arts and culture among residents and institutions in the state.
Born to a South Indian father and Filipina mother in Chicago, Nezhukumatathil’s experiences as a woman of color is a common motif in her writing.
She earned a BA and MFA from Ohio State University, and was a Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin.
Nezhukumatathil is now an English professor at the University of Mississippi, where she teaches in the MFA program.
In “World of Wonders,” Nezhukumatathil merges her love for nature with her personal experiences, detailing how she finds strength in nature.
In a 2020 conversation with author Kiese Laymon, she says that she started the book about 10 years ago while considering “what makes me smile.”
“I wanted to choose the 30 or so plants and animals that made me excited,” Nezhukumatathil told Laymon. Finding comfort and excitement in nature is something that many SNU students can relate to, an important factor in the selection of the common read author, according to Saraceno.
“The book needs to align with student interest,” said Saraceno. She believes that “World of Wonders” aligns well.
One of Nezhukumatathil’s goals with this book is to encourage people to be more conscious of their effects on nature.
In her conversation with Lymon, she says, “Nowhere in this book does it say that ‘we must recycle.’ but I’m hoping that when you see the love I have for these plants and animals, you’ll want to protect them as well.”
Nezhukumatathil plans to continue writing and learning about the natural world in her next project.