2013-2014 One Book Selection


By Wendy Leopold 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change” by Roger Thurow is the 2013-14 selection for One Book One Northwestern, the University’s community reading program. 

The book chronicles a year in the life of four small-scale farmers in western Kenya who, with help from a social enterprise organization founded by a Kellogg School of Management graduate, begin to transcend the cyclical poverty and hunger that they have always known.

“For all the progress made in economic development, hunger still persists in every region of the globe,” says Hendrik Spruyt, director of Northwestern’s Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies and upcoming One Book faculty chair. The Buffett Center will host the 2013-14 initiative.

“Tackling hunger requires the truly interdisciplinary approach that Northwestern is known for,” adds Spruyt. “By showing how individuals can make a difference in confronting seemingly insurmountable problems, “The Last Hunger Season” serves as a clarion call for our students to go out and engage with the world -- precisely what we aim for in our Northwestern strategic plan.” 

The “hunger season” of Thurow’s title refers to the months-long period each year when food from the previous harvest runs out until new crops grow in and during which small East African farmers typically go hungry.

The phrase “hungry farmers” is perhaps the most confounding, troubling phrase on a confounding, troubled continent, according to author Thurow. How can farmers, who rise every morning to grow food be hungry?

Most small farmers in Africa, he writes, toil in a time warp, essentially living and working as they did in the 1930s, and harvesting only a quarter of the yield of Western farmers -- half of which spoils before getting to market.

With assistance from the One Acre Fund, created and directed by Kellogg MBA graduate Andrew Youn, however, things promise to be different.

Read More Here