2016 One Book South Dakota Ready for Reading Groups

Jane Smiley’s rural farm family saga launches 2016 One Book South Dakota


Some Luck with Bookmarks2 - Med.jpgTragedies, triumph, history and the everyday life of a Midwestern farm family mix in the 2016 One Book South Dakota selection Some Luck by Jane Smiley, the winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Readers across South Dakota will read and discuss Smiley’s 2014 novel Some Luck, the first in The Last Hundred Years trilogy, in the 14th year of One Book South Dakota. The program introduces South Dakota readers to a single, relevant title selected by the South Dakota Humanities Council and the South Dakota Center for the Book. This year, the title also dovetails with the South Dakota celebration of the Pulitzer Prize’s centennial.

“Some Luck does a beautiful job of blending ordinary moments in the life of a typical Midwestern family with the major historical events going on in the world around them. South Dakota readers will definitely be able to relate to the rural setting and the family relationships,” said South Dakota Center for the Book director Jennifer Widman.

South Dakotans will find the novel relatable as the plot spans concerns ranging from changes in agricultural technology to broader themes and events like The Depression and World War II.

Readers follow the Langdons, an Iowa farm family, through each chapter covering a single year in their life between 1920 and 1953. In 1920, Rosanna and Walter Langdon welcome their firstborn son, Frank, who will be followed by Joe, Lillian, Henry, and Claire. As the children grow and scatter, the story provides an intimate look at the family’s triumphs and tragedies aligned with historical events.

“I really wanted to take these characters and follow them from babyhood to death,” Smiley told The Guardian in a fall 2014 interview.

a thousand acres.jpg

Smiley’s inspiration for her novel came from her surroundings, as well as a desire to express a family’s journey through life as affected by changes in the world around them.

“I used to take long walks in the countryside, and I used to think about farming. It became an interest and continued to be an interest as I stayed in Iowa,” said Smiley, who lived in Iowa for 24 years as a student and professor. She won a Pulitzer in 1992 for A Thousand Acres.

Readers can meet Jane Smiley and other Pulitzer Prize winners at the 2016 Festival of Books in Brookings, Sept. 22-26. She will deliver the keynote address on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m at the SDSU Performing Arts Center in Brookings.

“We’re especially excited to host Jane Smiley at the festival. Not only is she one of America’s most versatile and decorated writers, but she is also a dynamic speaker and a down-to-earth person,” said Widman.

Groups interested in reading and discussion Some Luck can apply for up to 30 books through the SDHC’s One Book South Dakota program. A $50 application fee applies. Visit sdhumanities.org to apply for a package through the SDHC’s One Stop Programs. The One Book SD program includes the option for a scholar versed in Some Luck to lead the group’s discussion.