Freshman reading at CSUB

May 29, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

California State University Bakersfield's First-Year Experience Runner Reader program has selected, "When the Emperor Was Divine," by Julie Otsuka, for freshmen students entering the university this fall.

The book tells the story of a California family of Japanese descent and their experiences in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. CSUB officials said the book was chosen because of a strong narrative thread that motivates discussion among students, faculty, and staff.

Emerson Case, CSUB's First-Year Experience coordinator, recommends students preparing to read the book next fall should familiarize themselves with World War II and the life experiences of Japanese families during this time.

Otsuka will speak at CSUB on Tuesday, Nov 6, as part of a two-day visit. "It will be exciting to have Julie Otsuka come to CSUB," Case said. "Having the author actually come to campus will add a new dimension to the First-Year Experience Program. It opens up a special opportunity for students to participate in our academic community and for students, faculty, and the author herself to engage in conversation with each other about important issues."

"When the Emperor Was Devine" has served as the common reader at several universities, including Temple University, University of South Carolina, and CSU Stanislaus, as well as the community reads for several cities, Case added.

Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of Yale University, and received her master of fine arts from Columbia University. She currently lives in New York City.

For more information on the Runner Reader Program or to suggest future selections, pleast contact Case, at (661) 654-6281 or, or visit