West Kentucky Community and Technical College announced Tuesday that "Nothing Like an Ocean" -- a short story collection by Kentucky author Jim Tomlinson -- would be the school's One Book Read for 2019-2020.

The One Book Read serves to enable the faculty and students to discuss issues that people around the community face every day.

"The idea of looking at these issues through literature just gives us a different lens through which to view society," explained Britton Shurley, dean of humanities, fine arts, business, and social science at WKCTC. "We're able to talk about and experience the lives of these characters as they go through issues we experience as people, like how we deal with poverty, longing, drug use or coming back from war.

"This collection does a nice job of humanizing those issues so that we can have a more open conversations and dialog about them."

Tomlinson's collection, according to WKCTC's release, confirms the promise of his award-winning debut "Things Kept, Things Left Behind" by spotlighting small-town lives that are thrown into quiet turmoil by unexpected events or outsiders in the fictional town of Spivey. Tomlinson is also a Kentucky-based author, currently residing in Berea, which the selection committee has tried to focus on in recent years.

"We tried to choose a collection that stretched across multiple disciplines, that would touch on others across the campus, and we thought this one gave a close look at humanity and the lives of a small Kentucky community," Shurley explained. "It also touches on larger cultural and historical issues such as the war on poverty, military and veterans, drug use and mountain top mining.

"All of these things are issues we thought our student body could have meaningful discussions about."

Tomlinson's stories have appeared in "Five Points," "Shenandoah," "Bellevue Literary Review," "New Stories From The South" and elsewhere. His fiction has been shortlisted for both "Best American Short Stories" and "Best American Mystery Stories." Along with the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship to Sewanee Writers Conference.

Several events will be scheduled soon regarding "Nothing Like an Ocean" and Tomlinson's visit to the campus this coming March 17-18 -- which will serve as the finale to this year's One Book Read.

Copies of the book can be checked out at WKCTC's Matheson Library and the McCracken County Public Library, both in print and electronically. They may also be purchased in the WKCTC bookstore or online.

For more information, visit www.onebookread.com.

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