The Big Read Blog (Archive)

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When the NEA welcomed three new books to the Big Read library last fall---Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake , Charles Portis's True Grit, and Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North--- we asked the writers if they had particular ties to any of the other Big Read titles. Lahiri spoke about having...
Cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Image courtesy of Harper Perennial Modern Classics Oftentimes, books we read in childhood and adolescence become touchstones throughout our lives. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is undoubtedly one such book for many people. In this 1937...
Portrait of Henry James. Used by permission of Billy Hathorn Okay, he wasn't really from outer space. But you'll hear where that title comes from when you listen to today's post featuring Irish novelist Colm Toibin; Big Read author, Cynthia Ozick ( The Shawl ); and larger-than-life critic, Gore...
Luis Alberto Urrea. Photo by Nicole Waite As I hope everyone knows, The Big Read is growing once again. Earlier this month, we introduced three new titles: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, True Grit by Charles Portis , and Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. While I'm excited by all three...
Alternative On the Road movie poster by Matthew Ferguson of Cakes and Comics . In 1957, On the Road was published and almost instantly, Jack Kerouac was dubbed the voice of the Beat Generation. I read the book for the first time this summer and the rhythm of Kerouac’s prose was energizing---truth...
Tim O’Brien. © Marion Ettlinger, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Next week, we celebrate the birthday of novelist and Big Read author, Tim O'Brien. Like many young American men in the late 1960s, O'Brien was drafted and fought in Vietnam. Much of his literary work concerns that war and its aftermath,...
Tim O’Brien. © Marion Ettlinger, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin In honor of Memorial Day, we're focusing today's post on Big Read author Tim O’Brien, a veteran of the Vietnam War. His experience as a solider is a subject he has returned to again and again in his writing, and his novel about the...
Dedé Mirabal (l) with author Julia Alvarez. Photo courtesy of Dedé Mirabal This week, we celebrate the birthday of author Julia Alvarez. Alvarez is an acclaimed novelist, poet, and essayist, whose second novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, is a Big Read selection . Set in the Dominican Republic...
This week, we marked the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe who was born on January 19, 1809. We tend to think of Poe as a master of gothic fiction creaky with horror or as a poet mourning a lost love in language that is lushly beautiful. These descriptions are accurate, as far as they go, but that’s only...
Amy Tan. Photo by Robert Foothorap Amy Tan is one of those rare writers who has achieved enormous popularity and critical acclaim. Her books include The Kitchen?s God Wife and The Bonesetter?s Daughter. But it was her first book, The Joy Luck Club , that put her on the literary map. The Joy Luck...

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