New York Times Bestselling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell will speak about overcoming adversity in a talk promoting his newest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Against Giants, at the Arlington Theatre this Friday.

A staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996, Gladwell is the well-known author of the nonfiction book, Outliers: The Story of Success, which outlines how people like Bill Gates and even the Beatles achieve success in their respective fields. The book explains the 10,000-hour rule, which is the idea that it takes about that amount of practice time to become an expert in a particular area. Using ideas and concepts from fields such as psychology and sociology, Gladwell has published numerous other notable nonfiction works, such as The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, in addition to his journalistic works, which are collectively compiled in What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures.

David and Goliath covers Gladwell’s perspective on society’s notions of the average person’s struggle against power and hardship using the biblical story of David and Goliath to discuss how to deal with such life events losing a loved one, facing discrimination and coping with disability.

According to Roman Baratiak, associate director of Arts & Lectures, Gladwell’s work generally focuses on the nature of power and the unexpected advantages of the typical underdog.

“He tries to explore these niches about advantage and disadvantage,” Baratiak said. “He’s really looking at this idea of the underdog and those who have power, and his general premise is that the underdogs, in many ways, have advantages over those who are often perceived to being more powerful.”

Brandon Fastman, Education and Outreach Coordinator for UCSB’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society, said Gladwell holds a notable talent for bridging the communication gap between scholars and the general public.

“He does a good job communicating what scholars do to a more general audience,” Fastman said. “He’s sort of a gateway to what students, professors, and professionals are doing.”

According to Baratiak, students may be able to better identify with Gladwell’s talk than other audience members since they are oftentimes more open to diverging from accepted social norms or ideas and can accept change more easily.

“Hopefully there’ll be a good student turn out because the people who are most able to quickly take action are students, much more so than people who are older and who are, in many ways, burdened with different levels of responsibilities, expectations, and just accustomed to doing things a certain way and are less adaptable frankly,” Baratiak said. “It’s something to lead people to question the norm.”


Malcolm Gladwell for Time Magazine by Bill Wadman, October 2008

Photo Courtesy of UCSB Arts & Lectures

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 9 edition of the Daily Nexus.