The Local School
by Colin Phelan
Written over the span of several years as he shuttled to and from the Indian subcontinent, Colin Phelan's debut book The Local School pays tribute to this idea: that the best schools are our local schools, ones of friends, of family, or of the people serendipitously encountered in your own neighborhood.
Although many view schools, colleges, and universities as the primary places from which we attain an education, opportunities for education surround us all in many overlooked forms, often around the corner, down the block, or even right in your own home. Written over the span of several years as he shuttled to and from the Indian subcontinent, Colin Phelan's debut book The Local School pays tribute to this idea: that the best schools are our local schools, ones of friends, of family, or of the people serendipitously encountered in your own neighborhood.
Fusing genres of travel writing, narrative journalism, memoir, and poetry, The Local School explores a counterintuitive perception of education and the need for an education renaissance in America. Detailing his experiences living and studying alongside two Indian men, one a Bengali teacher, and one a northern Indian truck driver, Phelan reorients education as a lifestyle, as opposed to something we chase. For years, Phelan wrestles with questions about these two Indian men’s uniquely uncommon friendship, about the Indian subcontinent’s history and complex social fabric, and ultimately, about what makes an education. All the while travelling far from home, Phelan learns that the best schools are our local schools.
Utilizing archival research from the National Archives of India, Delhi, the British Library in London, and behind the scenes access in Kolkata, Delhi, Kashmir, and parts of the Garhwal Himalayan foothills, Phelan offers readers privileged access into worlds of India about which they might otherwise know little.
It's been a while since I've read anything as unique and moving. [The Local School] had me from the start. Fortunately, Phelan strays far from the local to contend with what are, at root, universal themes: the connection between past and present, between one's own inner life and the lives of others. It's a vivid literary success.
John O'Connor - Acclaimed American Travel Writer