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Andrew Solomon To Discuss 'Far From the Tree'

Author explores how parents find meaning in children’s challenging differences

  • Best-selling author proposes that ‘diversity is what unites us’
  • Free humanities lecture 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus
  • Solomon explores how ordinary people cope with children’s unfamiliar difficulties
EVANSTON, Ill.  --- Writer Andrew Solomon will speak about the extraordinary resilience of families raising children with unfamiliar challenges, the subject of his award-winning book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” as part of Northwestern University’s public humanities lecture series.

The program, presented by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston. The event, one of several humanities lectures offered throughout the year, is free and open to the public, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The doors will open at 6 p.m.

Solomon’s well-researched book explores how ordinary people find profound meaning in learning to accept their children’s differences. He interviewed more than 300 families for the work, which tells the stories of parents coping with a variety of challenges, including deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia and multiple severe disabilities. Solomon also writes about families who have children who are prodigies, conceived in rape, commit crimes and are transgender.

Within each of these potentially isolating situations, Solomon finds that diversity is a unifying factor among families, who all struggle toward compassion and love. Throughout the book, Solomon weaves his own personal struggle with identity, one that culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by his research, to become a parent.

“Far From the Tree” has won a host of awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. The New York Times, which named it one of the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012, wrote, “It’s a book everyone should read…there’s no one who wouldn’t be a more imaginative and understanding parent -- or human being -- for having done so.”

Solomon, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, is a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics and the arts. In addition to his best-selling books, he is known for his activism in LGBT rights, mental health and the arts.

Solomon’s previous book, “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” won the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize and was included in The Times of London’s list of 100 best books of the decade.

He has authored essays for many anthologies and books of criticism, and his work has been featured on National Public Radio’s Moth Radio Hour.

The Public Humanities Lecture is presented in cooperation with the Family Action Network. It is one of many Northwestern humanities events open to the public throughout the year.

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