Published: Sept. 7, 2016

One Book, One Community event featuring author Ben Rawlence takes place Sept. 14

Contact(s): Janet Lillie Office of Government Affairs office: (517) 353-9001, Kristin Shelley East Lansing Public Library office: (517) 319-6913, Mikell Frey City of East Lansing office: (517) 319-6873

Community members are invited to meet Ben Rawlence, author of “City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp,” at a special One Book, One Community event at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at the East Lansing Public Library. The event is free and open to the public. 

Rawlence’s “City of Thorns” takes readers inside the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya – a City like no other where the citizens survive on rations and luck. Rawlence became a first-hand witness to the strange and desperate land and, in his book, he interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp. Brought to life by the people who call Dadaab home, “City of Thorns” is a lucid, vivid, illuminating and, oftentimes, heartbreaking story of survival. Rawlence is a British writer and a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, The London Review of Books and Prospect. 

Even though ELPL is closed to the public throughout the month of September for the completion of renovations, special arrangements have been made to host the Sept. 14 OBOC event in the library space. Community members are asked to enter through the north doors of the building.

This year’s OBOC theme is “Faces of Migration: The Human Experience” and focuses on the emotions and personal experiences of individuals on migration journeys. The narratives selected this year continue to support the OBOC program’s goal of engaging both residents and MSU students in the collective reading of compelling books that deal with present-day, complex issues. In addition to “City of Thorns,” this year’s program also features “Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazario.

The annual OBOC program, sponsored by the City of East Lansing and Michigan State University, encourages the city-university community to read the same book(s) and come together to discuss it in a variety of settings. For additional information on this year’s program, including a list of other OBOC events, visit