The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read—a partnership with Arts Midwest—broadens our understanding of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community.
2022: Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Center for Fiction’s 2022 Big Read initiative focused on Beloved, the landmark novel by the late, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. Our free multidisciplinary public programming included discussion groups, workshops for young writers, and public events with authors and scholars. The Center also connected with students through our signature KidsRead / KidsWrite programming, bringing events to NYC public schools that adapt discussions of Beloved for a high school audience and feature books suitable for younger readers that engage with similar themes.
Through this communal celebration of a novel that has been frequently banned and censored, we hoped to help return a masterful novelist’s canonical work to its rightful place of prominence.
2021: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
The Center’s 2021 Big Read initiative, which ran from March to June 2021, focused on the National Book Award-winning novel A Lesson Before Dying by the renowned Dr. Ernest J. Gaines, who passed away on November 5, 2019. The multidisciplinary initiative included free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, a flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars.