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The Consul: Recommended reading and viewing

By Katy Kelly

On Oct. 22, students will participate in the university’s annual First-Year Arts Immersion by attending the Dayton Opera’s performance of The Consul at the Schuster Performing Arts Center. Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul is about a freedom fighter and his family attempting to flee oppression in the face of unrelenting bureaucracy. Although it premiered on Broadway in 1950, its themes still resonate with audiences today. Below is a list of books to read and streaming films to watch that explore similar themes and circumstances.

Streaming Films

"Der Konsul," directed by Rudolph Cartier

An early television studio recording of The Consul. All-star cast includes Melitta Muszely, Eberhard Waechter, Res Fischer and Hilde Konetzni. Franz Bauer-Theussl leads the Orchestra of the Wiener Volksoper.

Watch on Alexander Street Press

"Freedom Stories," directed by Lisa Horler and Steve Thomas

"Freedom Stories" is an exploration of the achievements and struggles of former ‘boat people’. Now Australian citizens, they arrived seeking asylum from the Middle-East around 2001 – a watershed year in Australian politics sparked by the Tampa affair and Prime Minister John Howard’s declaration: “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come."

Watch on Kanopy

"Hotel Splendid," directed by Mauro Bucci

Selected to screen at the prestigious Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival, this award-winning film is an intimate account of a community of migrants from Africa who are living in an Italian hotel converted into an emergency refugee camp. The film recounts the migrants' dramatic voyage to Europe -- the violence and abuse -- and the Kafkaesque, almost surreal experiences they encounter during the evaluation process.

Watch on Kanopy

"Carved in Silence: Inside Angel Island Immigration Station," directed by Felicia Lowe

"Carved in Silence" tells the story of Chinese immigrants who were detained at the United States Immigration Station at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay during the little known Chinese Exclusion era. The film examines the genesis of racially discriminatory immigration policies, its reality, and its consequences. Interviews are intercut with historical footage and dramatic re-enactments to powerfully translate the impact of public policies into human terms.

Watch on Kanopy


"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland.

Request from OhioLINK

"A Night Divided" by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Summary: When the Berlin Wall went up, Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz are trapped on the eastern side where they were living, while her father, and her other brother Dominic are in the West--four years later, now twelve, Gerta sees her father on a viewing platform on the western side and realizes he wants her to risk her life trying to tunnel to freedom.

Request from OhioLINK

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

Summary: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. Working as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, he displays the punctuality, discretion, and loyalty that Edwards demands. Neni's temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons means a brighter future--until Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' façades. As the financial world threatens to collapse, the Jongas become desperate. And as their marriage threatens to fall apart, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice

Request from OhioLINK

"Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War" by Ben Rawlence

Summary: In this compelling debut, Ben Rawlence sets out to gather the news that never travels far---the news of the uneasy peace being made in the towns of Congo's silent quarter. Rather than taking the direct flight suggested by aid workers and mercenaries, he travels by foot, motorbike, and boat, taking his time to meet the people who are making a new life in one of the world's most dangerous places. He introduces us to Colonel Ibrahim, a guerrilla turned army officer: the Lebanese cousins Mohammed & Mohammed, young tin traders shipped to Africa by their family; the talk-show host Mama Christine, who dispenses counsel and courage in equal measure; and the priest Jean-Baptiste, who explains the price of beer and normality.

Available at Roesch Library

"The Year of the Runaways" by Sunjeev Sahota

"The Year of the Runaways" tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the chaotic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call. Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, this generous, unforgettable novel is a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Request from OhioLINK

Other resources

Accessible on campus only. Genealogical resource collection with sources such as censuses, vital records, immigration records, family histories, military records, court and legal documents, directories, photos, and maps.

"Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera" by Fred Plotkin

"Opera 101" is recognized as the standard text in English for anyone who wants to become an opera lover. It is a clear, friendly, and truly complete handbook for learning how to listen to opera, whether on the radio, on recordings, or live at the opera house.

Request from OhioLINK

- Katy Kelly, coordinator of marketing and engagement

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