UNC chose How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? as this year's summer reading book for incoming first-years. In the book, author Moustafa Bayoumi explores the modern experience of young Arab- and Muslim-Americans.
Bayoumi said he was inspired to write the book because he lived in New York City during the period of the 9/11 attacks and had a sense that the Arab-and Muslim-American communities were not represented in the mainstream media or public consciousness.
"So that there came a point, instead of being upset about it I should take on this responsibility and try to represent those stories myself,” Bayoumi said. "It became particularly important also because there was a rolling level of stereotyping and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. I thought, 'Maybe a work that I produced would be a counterweight.'"
An eight-person committee panel selected Bayoumi’s book earlier this month. Suchi Mohanty, head of the R.B. House Undergraduate Library, said that she supports first-years reading the book because it promotes public discourse and considers the lives and experiences of fellow students.
“I won't speak on behalf of the rest of the selection committee — but what resonated with me about the book is that it focuses on the lives of young people living with the same issues that our own Carolina students are facing as they make way into the world — identity, relationships, and employment to name a few," Mohanty said.