On the Same Page 2019

The Jones Library is holding its 7th On the Same Page community reading program, featuring the fiction title The Locals by Jonathan Dee. The entire Amherst community is invited to read the book and participate in the related programs. A variety of programs are being offered to enrich the reading experience of this best-selling title and to encourage dialog about the themes the book presents, particularly income inequality, money and power, and the great houses of the Berkshires.

The Locals


In The Locals, we find a society bitterly divided. People struggling to achieve the American dream. A billionaire at the head of the government. This timely novel, written prior to the last presidential election, explores the dramas of twenty-first-century America—rising inequality, working-class decline, and a new authoritarianism—as played out in a small town. The fictional Berkshire community of Howland sees its world turned upside down when a hedge fund manager and his family relocate there, and he is elected first selectman. He exerts his power, cutting government services and promising to pay himself for anything truly necessary. How the citizens of Howland react makes for fascinating reading as a reckoning day arrives.

Reviews of The Locals
“Jonathan Dee, big-hearted and masterly, summons up a small American town at precisely the right moment in our history, using his signature gifts (fairness, poetic precision in the language, affection for all) to cast light over a dark time—to suggest the root cause of our political problems, but also a way forward.”—George Saunders

“A must-read story for our age. Class struggle, tyranny, America’s disillusionment after 9/11—The Locals creates a delicately drawn world impossible to forget.”—Mary Karr

“Magnificent.”—The Boston Globe

“Good old social novels are hard to come by these days, great ones harder still. Leave it to Dee to fill the void with a book that's not only great, but so frighteningly timely that the reader will be forced to wonder how he managed to compose it before the last election cycle.”—Booklist (Starred Review)

Obtaining a Copy


Copies of The Locals can be signed out from the Jones Library and branches in February, requested and checked out from the C/W Mars library catalog, or purchased at Amherst Books in downtown Amherst.

Schedule of Events


  • The public is welcome at all events - it is not necessary to have read the book to attend the programs, although it is encouraged.
  • All events are free and open to the public.
  • General admission seating is offered for the author appearance by Jonathan Dee on Thursday, February 28, at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium.

Saturday, February 2 at 3:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room


The Berkshire Cottages of the Gilded Age - Carole Owens presents a program about the Berkshire country homes of the super rich - how they lived and how they supported their lavish lifestyle. Her talk is illustrated and she will have books available for sale and signing.
Carole Owens is the author of "The Berkshire Cottages", which tells the story of the fabulous pleasure resorts and pleasure palaces of the nineteenth century. The New York Times advised "Don't leave home without it!"

Cancelled Due To Weather - see below


Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room


The Locals: When a Billionaire Takes Over a Small Town in New England - The Locals chronicles the complexity of life in a western Massachusetts town where people grapple with earning a living, family issues, class antagonisms and the lure of an apparently benevolent politics without democracy. The townspeople of Howland face problems no different from many Americans during these tumultuous times, trying to make sense of their lives and what it means to live in a social and political community. When a billionaire promises to take care of all the town’s needs we hear echoes in our national politics. The voices of resentment among the townspeople call to mind a nation that is unsure of itself and losing its grip on its most basic political values.
Ray La Raja is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room


Inequality for All:  Screening and Discussion- This documentary presents a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class by Robert Reich – professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member - as he explains how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy as the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself.  Following the screening, there will be a discussion led by Donald Tomaskovic-Devey.
Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

Saturday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m. - Goodwin Room


Book Discussion of
The Locals - Join us for an in-depth discussion of our selected title, led by Jones Library librarian Linda Wentworth.  All are welcome.

*** New Date ***


Tuesday, February 26 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room

The Locals: When a Billionaire Takes Over a Small Town in New England - The Locals chronicles the complexity of life in a western Massachusetts town where people grapple with earning a living, family issues, class antagonisms and the lure of an apparently benevolent politics without democracy. The townspeople of Howland face problems no different from many Americans during these tumultuous times, trying to make sense of their lives and what it means to live in a social and political community. When a billionaire promises to take care of all the town’s needs we hear echoes in our national politics. The voices of resentment among the townspeople call to mind a nation that is unsure of itself and losing its grip on its most basic political values.
Ray La Raja is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

Author Event

Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 pm - Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium

General admission seating - doors will open at 6:30 pm.
On the Same Page... with Jonathan Dee -
Join us for this author appearance at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium. Jonathan Dee will speak about the book and the themes he explores in his writing, as well as answer questions from the audience.

Books will be available for purchase and signing, with thanks to Amherst Books.
On the Same Page Amherst
The Locals
Jonathan Dee

About the Author


Jonathan Dee is the author of seven novels, most recently The Locals. His novel, The Privileges, was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2011 Prix Fitzgerald and the St. Francis College Literary Prize. A former contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a senior editor of The Paris Review, and a National Magazine Award–nominated literary critic for Harper’s, he has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Jonathan Dee lives in Syracuse, New York, where he is Assistant Professor in the English Department at Syracuse University.

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