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Alex Kotlowitz to Deliver One Book One Northwestern Keynote

Author’s “Never a City So Real” is starting point for year of events, programs

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October 12, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- As author of “Never a City So Real” -- this year’s One Book One Northwestern selection -- Alex Kotlowitz will present some of his award-winning radio and film work when he delivers the One Book One Northwestern keynote address Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Northwestern University.

Kotlowitz will talk not only about the Chicagoans and city that inspire his work but also about his efforts to challenge common assumptions by giving voice to individuals who rarely are part of public discourse. His free, public lecture begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Ryan Auditorium of the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road, on the University’s Evanston campus. A book signing will follow.

One Book One Northwestern -- a community reading program sponsored by the Office of the President -- aims to engage the campus in conversations around the One Book selection for an entire academic year. To keep apprised of schedule of book groups, lectures, discussions, film screenings and events, visit the One Book website at http://www.northwestern.edu/onebook/index.html

Kotlowitz is probably best known for his 1991 book “There Are No Children Here,” which has sold more than a half million copies. About two brothers growing up in a Chicago housing project, the book was a publishing phenomenon that sparked a national conversation about youth in poverty.

“Never a City So Real” -- a celebration of Chicago and some of its unsung residents -- is Kotlowitz’s ode to his “adopted hometown” and something of a departure from his earlier work. 

When asked by publisher Crown Journeys to write a book about Chicago more than a decade after the publication of “There Are No Children Here,” Kotlowitz -- who teaches at Northwestern’s Center for the Writing Arts and Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications -- seized the opportunity.

“Never a City So Real” was a “chance to do what I love to do -- to go out into the world and talk to people with interesting stories that would otherwise go unspoken and unheard,” he said. 

In 2011, Kotlowitz teamed up with filmmaker Steve James of “Hoop Dreams” fame to write and produce “The Interrupters,” an award-winning documentary about community “peacemakers” working for the anti-violence organization Ceasefire in some of Chicago’s most troubled neighborhoods.

A One Book screening of “The Interrupters” followed by a discussion with Kotlowitz, will take place at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Hughes Auditorium, Lurie Medical Research Center, 303 E. Superior Street, Chicago campus. It, too, is free and open to the public. 

Some 300 Northwestern freshmen already have visited 10 Chicago neighborhoods as part of the One Book program in an exploration of topics including leadership, immigration, urban planning, Chicago’s public spaces and African American Chicago.

“This year’s One Book selection is giving students an introduction to Chicago people and neighborhoods that they might otherwise never encounter,” said Dan Lewis, director of Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement. The center is hosting this year’s One Book One Northwestern program.

For more information about the Oct. 16 film screening, the Oct. 17 keynote address and other One Book programming, email onebook@northwestern.edu, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/onebook/ or call (847) 467-2294.