“The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood” by Richard Blanco will be the Class of 2021 summer reading book, the University announced Tuesday.
The memoir is about Blanco’s experiences growing up in a family of Cuban exiles in the United States. The book touches on topics including self-acceptance among life transitions and details how Blanco balanced his sexual identity and family influences.
Blanco—a first-generation college graduate—became the nation’s youngest inaugural poet when he spoke at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. He was also the first Latino and openly gay person to serve as the inaugural poet.
"I am really excited about the choice of ‘The Prince of Los Cocuyos,’” said senior Andres Camino, a member of the selection committee who was also last year’s co-chair of the First-Year Advisory Council, in a Duke Today release. “I think the first-year students will be able to have a lot of great discussions about it. Blanco is able to write about identity, family, sexuality and a slew of other themes so well. I am sure the students will absolutely love it."
The selection committee narrowed down their selection from 85 book recommendations including “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. The committee was made up of students, staff and faculty who chose the book after reviewing numerous recommendations and receiving input from the Duke community.
"’The Prince of Los Cocuyos’ is the beautiful and poignant story of a boy navigating multiple identities,” said Colleen Scott, director of the Baldwin Scholars Program and a committee member, in the release. “I chose it to bring visibility to the strength of the Latino and Latina community at Duke."