Archive for May 2009

• Michigan Humanities Council Selects “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner” as Michigan’s “Great Read” for 2009

The Great Michigan Read 2009-2010Yesterday, Michigan Humanities Council announced its selection of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner as Michigan’s Great Read for 2009.   Stealing Buddha’s Dinner was last year’s One Book, One Firm selection at Warner Norcross & Judd.  Copies of the book are available through the firm library.

As part of the Great Read program, the Humanities Council will be bringing author Bich Minh Nguyen to tour the state in October.  For details, click here

• One Book, One Firm Lunch-and-Learn Set for June 1

One Book, One FirmJohn McKendryJoin us on Monday, June 1, for an exceptional Lunch-and-Learn presentation.  Warner Norcross partner John McKendry will discuss his experiences as a CODA – a child of deaf adults.  Like Myron Uhlberg, the author of this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Hands of My Father, John was born to deaf parents.  Uhlberg’s memoir covers his life in the 30s and 40s.  John will bring the story forward a generation and discuss his experiences as a CODA when he was a boy.

 Katie PrinsWe are excited that joining John on the program will be Katie Prins, the Executive Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, a not-for-profit agency that provides interpreter services, education, information and advocacy to the deaf and hard of hearing community and information and education on deaf-related matters to the hearing community. She will provide us a contemporary perspective on being the deaf child of hearing parents.

John and Katie will be speaking in the University Club in Grand Rapids at noon on June 1.  The program will be broadcast over the Internet to our other offiices.  If you would like to join your Warner colleagues at this Lunch-and-Learn, please RSVP to Robin Keith by Tuesday, May 26.

• The 2009 One Book, One Firm Selection: “Hands of My Father”

One Book, One FirmWarner Norcross and Judd’s One Book, One Firm program encourages the discussion of diversity and inclusion by asking everyone in the firm to join in reading the same book.  Creating the shared experience of reading the same book gives us common ground on which to talk and share our viewpoints. 


Hands of My FatherThe 2009 One Book, One Firm Selection is Hands of My Father, a memoir by Myron Uhlberg about growing up the hearing child of two deaf parents.  Uhlberg recounts how he lived in two different worlds, serving as his parents’ interpreters and link to the hearing world, while trying to be just another kid in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 1940s.  The book is a wonderful glimpse inside the world of a minority group that John McKendry, himself the child of deaf parents, calls the “most neglected minority in America – the deaf who remain silent, invisible, isolated and disconnected.”

The Christian Science Monitor says of the book, “Uhlberg’s poignant story of devotion and responsibility is a love letter of sorts to his late parents. It opens a window into a world of isolation and ‘eternal silence’ unimaginable to most people. Calling sign a language of the heart, he elevates it to something approaching an art form, saying, ‘It is for me the most beautiful, immediate, and expressive of languages, because it incorporates the entire human body.’”


In addition to encouraging everyone to read Hands of My Father, we also also encourage you to consider adding the following excellent books to your summer reading list. 


Digging to America by Ann Tyler

Digging to AmericaAnne Tyler’s 17th novel, Digging to America, tells the stories of two couples and their families who become accidental friends when they meet at the airport where they are each awaiting the arrival of their adopted child from Korea.  Bitsy and Brad Donaldson are white, suburban couple determined to raise their daughter in a culturally sensitive fashion.  Sami and Ziba Yazdan are Iranian Americans, who seem less worried about the dangers of assimilation.  The couples come together every year to celebrate their daughters’ arrival, allowing Tyler to bring us up to date on developments in the families. Reviewing the book in The Atlantic Monthly, Elizabeth Judd writes, “Digging to America succeeds on many levels — as a satire of millennial parenting, a tribute to autumn romances, and, most important, an exploration of our risible (though poignant) attempts to welcome otherness into our midst.”

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber


Winner of the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literary Fiction and the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award, Crescent tells the story of Sirine, a thirty-nine-year-old chef at a Lebanese restaurant in Los Angeles and lives with her Iraqi-immigrant uncle.  When a handsome Arabic literature professor starts dropping by the restaurant for a little home cooking, Sirine finds herself falling in love, stirring up memories of her parents and questions about her identity as an Arab American. 

The daughter of a Jordanian father and a mother of Irish and German descent, author Diana Abu-Jaber teaches at Portland State University.


The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in HeavenSherman Alexie has received numerous awards, including the 1999 O. Henry Award, the 2000 inaugural PEN/ Short Story Award.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, is a book of short stories, originally published in 1993, which the publisher describes as follows: “In this darkly comic short story collection, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realism to paint a complex, grimly ironic portrait of life in and around the Spokane Indian Reservation. These twenty-two interlinked tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet are filled with passion and affection, myth and dream.”

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Garcia GirlsJulia Alvarez is Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist who teaches at Middlebury College. At the age of ten, Alvarez moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic, which her family fled in the wake of a political rebellion.  In her 1991 novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Alvarez tells the stories of the four García sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – who, like Alvarez arrived in New York City in 1960 following the upheaval in the D.R.  The publisher describes their stories as follows: “What they have lost – and what they find – is revealed in fifteen interconnected stories that begin with thirty-nine-year-old Yolanda’s return to the Island and moves backwards in time to the final days before their exile. Along the way, we witness their headlong plunge into the American mainstream. Although they try to distance themselves from their Island life by ironing their hair, forgetting their Spanish, and meeting boys un-chaperoned, they remain forever caught between the old world and the new. This story of the immigrant experience evokes the tensions and joys of belonging to two different distinct cultures.”

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye is the first novel of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Writing in the New York Times in 1970 when the book debuted, John Leonard said of the book, “Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is an inquiry into the reasons why beauty gets wasted in this country. The beauty in this case is black; the wasting is done by a cultural engine that seems to have been designed specifically to murder possibilities; the ‘bluest eye’ refers to the blue eyes of the blond American myth, by which standard the black-skinned and brown-eyed always measure up as inadequate. Miss Morrison exposes the negative of the Dick-and-Jane-and-Mother-and-Father-and-Dog-and-Cat photograph that appears in our reading primers, and she does it with a prose so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry.”


A Stronger Kinship by Anna-Lisa Cox

A Stronger KinshipIn A Stronger Kinship, Hope College alumna Anna-Lisa Cox tells the amazing story of Covert, Michigan, in the years following the Civil War.  In this small little town, blacks and whites more than co-existed.  Schools and churches were integrated, both blacks and whites held elected office, and blacks and whites freely intermarried.  In a 2006 story about Covert, NPR reported, “Covert was not one of the abolitionist colonies established in the Midwest at the time, following an anti-slavery philosophy. Nor was it a free African-American settlement protected by the Quakers. It wasn’t a utopian social experiment. It was, quite simply, tough frontier, and somehow it was a place where individuals laid the foundation for a culture of trust in one another.”

Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Dreams of My FatherWritten in the year following his graduation from law school, long before the hype and hoopla of his political career, Dreams of My Father is Barack Obama’s memoir of his youth and “a boy’s search for his father and through that search a workable meaning of his life as a black American.”  According to a review in the Washington Post, in Dreams of My Father Obama, “[f]luidly, calmly, insightfully, . . . guides us straight to the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race.”



Covering by Kenji Yoshino

CoveringIn this book, New York University Law Professor Kenji Yoshino explores covering – downplaying a disfavored trait so as to blend into the mainstream. Yoshino, the gay son of Japanese immigrants, argues that our society’s demand that gays, women,  religious and ethnic minorities cover poses a hidden threat to our civil rights. As the website for Covering explains, “Racial minorities are pressed to ‘act white’ by changing their names, languages, or cultural practices. Women are told to ‘play like men’ at work. Gays are asked not to engage in public displays of same-sex affection. The devout are instructed to minimize expressions of faith, and individuals with disabilities are urged to conceal the paraphernalia that permit them to function.” Yoshino argues that the work of civil rights will not be complete until it addresses to the consequences of coerced conformity.

The Difference by Scott E. Page

The DifferenceIn The Difference, Scott Page, Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of Michigan, sets out to explain why diverse teams out-perform homogeneous teams that have higher abilities.  Page is looking at cognitive diversity – “the differences in how people see, categorize, understand, and go about improving the world.” In a New York Times interview, Page explains: “People from different backgrounds have varying ways of looking at problems, what I call ‘tools.’ The sum of these tools is far more powerful in organizations with diversity than in ones where everyone has gone to the same schools, been trained in the same mold and thinks in almost identical ways.”   Don’t be deterred by the mathematical formulas.  Page’s writing is clear, cogent, funny and well worth the read.

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise

White Like MeTim Wise is an outspoken opponent of racism and white privilege.  Describing White Like Me, the publisher writes, “Tim Wise offers a highly personal examination of the ways in which racial privilege shapes the lives of most white Americans, overtly racist or not, to the detriment of people of color, themselves, and society. The book shows the breadth and depth of the phenomenon within institutions such as education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and healthcare. By critically assessing the magnitude of racial privilege and its enormous costs, Wise provides a rich memoir that will inspire activists, educators, or anyone interested in understanding the way that race continues to shape the experiences of people in the U.S. Using stories instead of stale statistics, Wise weaves a narrative that is at once readable and scholarly, analytical and accessible.”