Interview conducted by Brittany Parziale ’17, Connections Intern
Professor Dorian Lee Jackson is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. He has been with the university since 2015.
Professor Jackson is currently reading Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. This dystopian novel is set in California in the year 2025, during a time when crime is rampant and the social order has begun to disintegrate. Communities are walled off by an inept government in order to provide safety to their inhabitants. After her father is killed and her neighborhood torched, eighteen year old empath and visionary Lauren Oya Olamina begins a trek northward in search of a better world.
Professor Jackson found this book “relevant to the current political and social environment we are living in right now.” He finds science fiction and utopian novels compelling as they are able to “give interesting perspectives on our current situations.”
In his free time, Professor Jackson also enjoys reading crime fiction.
Brazilian author Rubem Fonseca’s short story collection The Taker and Other Stories and the works of Junot Diaz, one of his favorite authors, are among Professor Jackson’s most memorable reads.
He also fondly remembers reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls as a child. This is a book he comes back to a lot as it was “the first chapter book read as a class in elementary school and the experience of reading in long form stuck with me throughout my life.”
Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star and Evelio Rosero’s The Armies will be read in preparation for courses Professor Jackson is teaching this semester. “Between family and work it is hard to find the time to sit down and really find the time for pleasure reading.” In spite of these time constraints, he absolutely loves reading and discussing books with his students.
Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is an essential read because it “narrates a contemporary urban experience that becomes accessible to a lot of different people.” Jackson believes it is important to get to know and understand the American experiences of others. What he finds most rewarding about reading is being able to “reflect on my proximity to or distance from other people’s suffering–which can take a lot of shapes and forms. It allows you to experience someone else’s hardships and reflect on the condition that brings those situations about.”