BGSU Firelands Common Read

Watch Putsata Live TONIGHT, April 3, 2024 at 6:30 PM via ZOOM!

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Livestream: Putsata Reang Ma and Me Author Speaks

What is the Common Read?

The Common Read is a tradition at BGSU Firelands designed to bring together students, staff, and community members to learn, discuss, and engage in a singular, impactful book and its associated themes.

Participants shall honor the uniqueness of other’s points of view and appreciate the opportunity to learn from others.  The Common Read Committee hopes this is a positive experience that supports one’s academic and personal goals.

About the 2024 Common Read
Ma and Me By Putsata Reang

When Putsata Reang was eleven months old, her family fled war-torn Cambodia, spending twenty-three days on an overcrowded navy vessel before finding sanctuary at an American naval base in the Philippines. Holding what appeared to be a lifeless baby in her arms, Ma resisted the captain’s orders to throw her bundle overboard. Instead, on landing, Ma rushed her baby into the arms of American military nurses and doctors, who saved the child's life. “I had hope, just a little, you were still alive,” Ma would tell Put in an oft-repeated story that became family legend.

Over the years, Put lived to please Ma and make her proud, hustling to repay her life debt by becoming the consummate good Cambodian daughter, working steadfastly by Ma’s side in the berry fields each summer and eventually building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But Put's adoration and efforts are no match for Ma's expectations. When she comes out to Ma in her twenties, it's just a phase. When she fails to bring home a Khmer boyfriend, it's because she's not trying hard enough. When, at the age of forty, Put tells Ma she is finally getting married—to a woman—it breaks their bond in two. In her startling memoir Ma and Me (FSG/MCD May 2022), Reang explores the long legacy of inherited trauma and the crushing weight of cultural and filial duty. With rare clarity and lyric wisdom, Ma and Me is a stunning, deeply moving story about love, debt, and duty.

Themes Presnted in the Common Read
  • Refugee Identity    
  • Generation and Culture Studies
  • LGBTQ+ Identity
  • Inherited Trauma
  • Survivor’s Guilt
  • Cambodian Civil War and Genocide
  • Filial Duty and Family Roles
  • Belonging
  • Journalism and Storytelling  
About the Author
Putsata Reang

Putsata Reang is a foreign affairs journalist who has lived and worked in more than a dozen countries including Cambodia, Afghanistan and Thailand. She worked as a reporter for major metropolitan newspapers including the San Jose Mercury News and The Seattle-Times before moving abroad to train journalists in investigative and political reporting in conflict and post-conflict countries. Putsata is an alumna of writers residencies at Hedgebrook, Mineral School and Kimmel Harding Nelson, as well as the Jack Straw Writers Program. She has received grants from Washington State Artist Trust and the Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Politico, Ms., the Guardian among other publications and she has been anthologized in essay collections that highlight women’s and Khmer voices. Putsata lives with her wife in the Pacific Northwest.

Updated: 04/03/2024 10:01AM