Common Read A Little “Knight-Time” Reading: This Is One Way to Dance, by Sejal Shah

In conjunction with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Geneseo Common Read committee is pleased to announce its selection for 2021–2022’s Common Read program, A Little “Knight-Time” Reading: This Is One Way to Dance, by Sejal Shah. From the back cover of the book:

In the linked essays that make up her debut collection, This Is One Way to Dance, Sejal Shah explores culture, language, family, and place. Throughout the collection, Shah reflects on what it means to make oneself visible and legible through writing in a country that struggles with race and maps her identity as an American, South Asian American, writer of color, and feminist. This Is One Way to Dance draws on Shah’s ongoing interests in ethnicity and place: the geographic and cultural distances between people, both real and imagined. Her memoir in essays emerges as Shah wrestles with her experiences growing up and living in western New York, an area of stark racial and economic segregation, as the daughter of Gujarati immigrants from India and Kenya. These essays also trace her movement over twenty years from student to teacher and meditate on her travels and life in New England, New York City, and the Midwest, as she considers what it means to be of a place or from a place, to be foreign or familiar.

Shah invites us to consider writing as a somatic practice, a composition of digressions, repetitions—movement as transformation, incantation. Her essays—some narrative, others lyrical and poetic—explore how we are all marked by culture, gender, and race; by the limits of our bodies, by our losses and regrets, by who and what we love, by our ambivalences, and by trauma and silence. Language fractures in its attempt to be spoken. Shah asks and attempts to answer the question: How do you move in such a way that loss does not limit you? This Is One Way to Dance introduces a vital new voice to the conversation about race and belonging in America.

During 2021–2022, multiple events & activities will take place that are related to the themes of This Is One Way to Dance. Kicking off the fall semester will be a book discussion as part of the Weeks of Welcome for our incoming first-year students (Saturday, August 28, 11 a.m.). Additionally, This Is One Way to Dance will be the textbook for CMRD101, a one-credit asynchronous online class devoted to in-depth study of the book’s themes.

For more information on A Little “Knight Time” Reading, visit; stay tuned for additional announcements related to This Is One Way to Dance!