“Good Kings, Bad Kings” Selected as 2013-2014 Villanova One Book

Villanova University community joins together for dialogue on persons with disabilities through the stirring first novel by Susan Nussbaum

Good Kings, Bad Kings

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has chosen Good Kings, Bad Kings by first-time novelist Susan Nussbaum as its 2013-14 One Book Villanova program selection.  Good Kings, Bad Kings takes a frank and unflinching look at the lives of a spirited group of teenaged residents of an institution for juveniles with disabilities. At turns humorous and heartbreaking, the novel invites readers to take a look at what living with a disability can be like – through the eyes of those living it.

The choice of Good Kings Bad Kings is timely for the University as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival at Villanova, according to One Book Villanova committee co-chairs, Thomas Mogan, director, Office of Student Development, and Teresa Nance, assistant vice president, Multicultural Affairs.

“Villanova hosts the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world and it is one of the hallmark events for our students and the entire campus community,” said Tom Mogan. “The University community has a long history of demonstrated support for persons with disabilities. Villanova students several years ago formed a student organization called LEVEL designed to provide support for students with disabilities, and this organization has grown tremendously in a very short time. The selection of Good Kings, Bad Kings will provide an opportunity for additional dialogue on an important societal issue.”

LEVEL gives service learning students at Villanova the opportunity to partner with a student who is challenged with physical, emotional, or learning differences. The goal of the organization is to “level” the playing field for students of differing abilities by assisting with academics and other aspects of college life so that they may achieve their potential educationally and also be included in the “social, spiritual and psychological fabric” of the University community.

Nance called Good Kings, Bad Kings “an important choice for the One Book Villanova program,” since it challenges readers to take on a serious but overlooked issue:  long term institutional care of disabled youth. 

“The characters are vividly drawn. They populate a community invisible to many of us,” Nance said.  “As we vicariously live inside each beautifully drawn character we come to recognize and feel their good times and laughter as well as their tragedy and pain.   At the end we are left with so many questions and realize that the  next chapter – what it is that we can come to know and do for dynamic young people who just happen to have a disability –  is up to us.” 

One Book Villanova is a distinctive educational program that engages all segments of the campus community – students, staff and faculty – in activities presented throughout the academic year which explore dominant themes presented in a selected book. Copies of Good Kings, Bad Kings are distributed to the student body early in the fall academic semester.

Discussion groups, public readings and special events will enliven and extend the campus community’s examination of Good Kings, Bad Kings through the end of the spring semester. A visit by the author to campus in early 2014 will include a presentation open to the public. Details of the event will be made available, as the date approaches, on the University’s One Book Villanova Website.

Other selections featured since the One Book Villanova program began in 2005 include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni, Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson, Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji, The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.