One Book, One Town, Many Opportunities


Campbell Treschuk

Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Salaam’s book is available at the Fairfield University Bookstore.

For the thirteenth year, the Fairfield Public Library will be sponsoring One Book One Town, or OBOT. The idea is that people in Fairfield all read the same book, which is chosen by the library. Then, the authors come to Fairfield and discuss their work.

This year’s book will be reflecting the recent racial justice protests and police violence. Punching the Air is written by award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam. Dr. Salaam is one of the “Exonerated Five,” the boys who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 Central Park jogger case. 

The book, published last year, tells the story of a boy imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and how his passion for art gives him strength in prison. Though the book is fiction, it is inspired by Dr. Salaam’s life experiences.

OBOT is always a great community-building event, and this year, there are many ways to participate. As the authors can’t come to Fairfield in person due to COVID, there will be a virtual talk on March 2. Registration is already open. There will also be a virtual discussion of the book on February 23 hosted by Dr. Mark Schenker, who is a dean at Yale. Registration for that event can be found here. Another virtual session will also be held on February 17th that will look at Punching the Air’s references to specific movements and works in the history of art. Register for the event here.

Each year, there is a writing contest open to anyone from  middle schoolers and up (adults included) relating to the OBOT book. This year, as the book’s theme relates to art, the contest includes both writing and mixed media. Below is a flyer featuring information about the contest. Submissions are due on March 12, and a virtual reception for the contest’s winners will be held on March 24.

However you choose to participate in the many events, there is a lot to learn from this year’s One Book One Town.

The writing and mixed media contest allows members of the community to interact with the themes of the book. (Fairfield Public Library)