From the New York Times bestselling author of You Should Have Known and Admission, a twisty new novel about a college president, a baffling student protest, and some of the most hot-button issues on today's college campuses.
Naomi Roth is the first female president of Webster College, a once conservative school now known for producing fired-up, progressive graduates. So Naomi isn't surprised or unduly alarmed when Webster students begin the fall semester with an outdoor encampment around "The Stump"-a traditional campus gathering place for generations of student activists-to protest a popular professor's denial of tenure. A former student radical herself, Naomi admires the protestors' passion, especially when her own daughter, Hannah, joins their ranks.
Then Omar Khayal, a charismatic Palestinian student with a devastating personal history, emerges as the group's leader, and the demonstration begins to consume Naomi's life, destabilizing Webster College from the inside out. As the crisis slips beyond her control, Naomi must take increasingly desperate measures to protect her friends, colleagues, and family from an unknowable adversary.
Touching on some of the most topical and controversial concerns at the heart of our society, this riveting novel examines the fragility that lies behind who we think we are-and what we think we believe.
Korelitz (Admission) raids the current news climate for this hot-topic read about diversity, protest, and "liberal idiocy" on the campus of progressive Webster College, headed by its first female and Jewish president, Naomi Roth, a feminist academic with her own radical past. Roth's pride in Webster's evolution from white male homogeneity to carefully culled inclusion is tested by the denial of tenure to popular black professor Nicholas Gall, which spawns a massive student movement to protect him led by Omar Khayal, a charismatic Palestinian student. Though Roth prides herself on speaking "truth to power," when she is the "establishment" her words fall on deaf ears. They fail to impress even her own daughter, Hannah, a member of the protest movement; best friend, Francine, the college's admissions dean going through her own academic crisis; and the restive college board. There's much to ponder in this dense political and social debate, and it's as overwhelming to Naomi as it is to readers, who, though pitying her no-win situation, can see the hypocrisy that blinds her. Ultimately, it isn't the political twist that's so riveting in Korelitz's morality tale, but the apolitical, ageless struggle of a mother letting go of her daughter, a fact "so very ordinary, but... everything, too."