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The Sandcastle Girls’ By Chris Bohjalian Tops 206 Titles To Become The 2017 One Book, One San Diego Selection

KPBS announced the 2017 One Book, One San Diego book selection, "The Sandcastle Girls," by Chris Bohjalian, the critically acclaimed novelist whose books frequently make the New York Times best-seller list.

“I am deeply honored by the selection,” Bohjalian said. “San Diego is a wonderful reading community. I've made appearances there off and on over the years, and I've always been dazzled by the bookstores and the libraries and the readers.”

One Book, One San Diego is community-wide reading program now in its 11th season and currently includes more than 20 community partners. Started in 2006 by KPBS, along with the San Diego Public Library, the program encourages everyone in the region to read and discuss the same book.

Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls, the 2017 One Book, One San Diego selection, in this undated photo.

Bohjalian will make two One Book, One San Diego appearances on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and Wednesday, Sept. 13, the first of many One Book events held by KPBS and community partners that will run through December. KPBS will give away 300 copies of Bohjalian’s book at the inaugural San Diego Festival of Books, organized by The San Diego Union-Tribune in partnership with KPBS, at Liberty Station on Saturday, Aug. 26. In addition, KPBS will announce the One Book Sin Fronteras, One Book for Kids and One Book for Teens selections at the festival.

Bohjalian’s novel, a multi-generational tale that spans nearly 100 years, is initially set in Syria during World War I and focuses on the Armenian Genocide.

“These days it is very important for me to tell people that I am the grandson of two Middle Eastern immigrants,” Bohjalian said. “We are a nation of refugees and immigrants. The novel is set in Aleppo — yes, that Aleppo that has broken all of our hearts the last five years — and the city as it appears in the novel exists now only in romance and memory.”

The volunteer One Book Advisory Committee, comprised of literary experts, discussed the merits of 206 titles submitted by the public before choosing "The Sandcastle Girls."

“It's important to the committee that we choose a book of high literary quality that's prime for discussions by all types of readers,” said One Book, One San Diego Program Manager Clare Pister. “This book is just right. It's beautifully written and makes an important, rarely told piece of history accessible to a modern audience.”

Marc Chery, supervisor of the humanities section at San Diego’s Central Library said there are plenty of benefits to community reading. “You’re taking part in a shared and privileged conversation with the author and with each other as readers,” he said.

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