Skip to main content
Tulane Home Tulane Home

President's Letter

Tulane President Michael Fitts

Dear Tulane Community,

At Tulane, the opportunities to learn transcend the classroom, connecting our academic community with the city of New Orleans, our nation and conversations internationally. The Newcomb-Tulane College Reading Project, the common intellectual experience for the entering first-year class, engages students and faculty from different backgrounds and academic interests through the reading and discussion of a selected book. I am pleased to announce Vengeance by Zachary Lazar as the 2019 Reading Project book.

Vengeance will push our students to think critically about the justice system, the crisis of mass incarceration, and race in the United States. The Reading Project committee, comprised of faculty, students, and staff, selected this novel for its timeliness, beautiful and challenging prose, and its examination of “truth” from a philosophical, psychological, and legal standpoint. The committee hopes that the book will foster meaningful discussions about empathy for others, the power of community, and our shared human experience.

We are extremely proud that this prestigious work is by a Tulane faculty member. Zachary Lazar joined the English department in 2011 and is a professor of creative writing. Professor Lazar has been honored many times for his work including: a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, an ATLAS grant from the state of Louisiana, and the 2015 John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for “a writer in mid-career whose work has demonstrated consistent excellence.” Vengeance was also selected by One Book, One New Orleans as the 2019 common read for the city of New Orleans.

The incoming class of 2023 will discuss the book with a faculty member and their new classmates during New Student Orientation. They will have opportunities to continue engaging with the themes of the book through the Reading Project keynote lecture and other programming throughout the semester, both on campus and in the greater New Orleans community. The book will be available for purchase in the Tulane bookstore during admitted student events in the spring and throughout the summer. For new students, this will be their first book purchased for their academic career in Newcomb-Tulane College.

The discussion of a common book is an opportunity for us to welcome our newest scholars to Tulane University. It is my hope that engagement with Vengeance continues long after the discussion groups, through conversations from classrooms to residence halls, and the moments in between that make Tulane such a vibrant intellectual community.


Michael A. Fitts
President, Tulane University