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NEA Big Read: Story/Teller Invitation to Read A Lesson Before Dying

March 2, 2021

Award-winning author and The Center for Fiction Board member Jacqueline Woodson hosts this special on-demand Story/Teller event celebrating Ernest Gaines’s famous achievement A Lesson Before Dying. Released in 1993, the novel depicts a young black man facing death row for a crime he didn’t commit. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and earned its place as a modern classic. The Center for Fiction is hosting an NEA Big Read of the novel starting this month, and we invite you all to join together to read and discuss this essential American story. Award-winning actor Leon Addison Brown performed a dramatic reading from the book.


The Center for Fiction’s Big Read initiative, running from March to June 2021, includes free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars. This initiative is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.