Community Book Program for 2022-23

Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay has been selected as the Community Book for the 2022-23 academic year.

Dear Members of the Oxy Community:

I am delighted to announce that Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay has been selected as the Community Book for the 2022-2023 year. An award-winning novel published in 2019, Your House Will Pay is a fictionalization of the events surrounding the notorious killing of an African-American teenager (Latasha Harlins) by a Korean-American shop owner (Soon Ja Du), a few weeks after the videotaped beating of Rodney King by several LAPD officers in 1991. Over approximately 300 pages, Cha weaves a compelling story about the many ways this traumatic event affects both families involved in the Harlins-Du tragedy as well as the entire Black and Asian communities in Los Angeles by depicting events in 1991 and in 2019. The Los Angeles Times, which awarded Your House Will Pay its Best Mystery/Thriller Award in 2020 said “As the action moves through SoCal’s diverse and divided communities, grief, rage, repentance, duty to family and more force readers to consider all sides of complex moral issues.”

The Community Book Program (CBP) merged with the Core Program’s Summer Reading last year so Your House Will Pay will be a required text for incoming first-year students in addition to being the focal point of multiple community-wide events next year. The CBP Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) and the Core Steering Committee (CSC) jointly oversee the selection process of the Community Book. The memberships of the AHC and CSC represent the multiplicity of constituents that comprise the College’s campus community. Every year, the AHC tries to select a book that can be connected to one of the four pillars of the College’s mission; this year’s selection is Equity. Through an anonymized and inclusive process, the committees solicited title suggestions from Oxy’s faculty, students, and staff. Members also combed through lists of prize-winners, best-sellers, and the review literature and employed their own knowledge and expertise to expand the list. The gathering process was thorough and rigorous.

Using as criteria the CBP’s Mission Statement and the theme of Equity, members of the AHC and CSC narrowed the list of contenders to four finalists and eventually selected Your House Will Pay as the consensus recommendation. The committees are unanimous in believing that this book will serve the best interests of our incoming class and other students this year.

All Oxy students are offered the opportunity to acquire the e-version of Your House Will Pay at no charge. Students will receive an email with more information about accessing their free copy next week. The Library will have several copies for members of the community to borrow. We ask that all other members of the College community read a copy in the format of their choice. We will be creating a resource guide and other educational materials to support the CBP. The program will feature various in-person and remote events throughout the academic year.  We look forward to kicking things off in early August with an exciting opening event with President Elam.

With best wishes,
Wendy Sternberg