Over the past ten years, the National Endowment for the Arts has supported more than 1,200 NEA Big Read projects, with 4.2 million Americans taking part in community-wide programs that each explore a single book.
On the new list of titles available from the program, Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link and Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel have been added, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin remains, while Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury has been dropped.
An NEA spokesperson’s introduction of the new list emphasized the authors’ availability for interaction.
When author Kelly Link was a kid, she owned a pet boa constrictor named “Baby.” Celeste Ng had dreams of becoming an astronaut and Kao Kalia Yang loved reading Little House on the Prairie. Before they became writers, Ron Carlson was a fry cook, Emily St. John Mandel was a professional dancer, and Yu Hua was a dentist who wasn’t too fond of the inside of anyone’s mouth. Alejandro Zambra records himself reading his entire books aloud (he’s lucky they’re short); Claudia Rankine wrote a play performed on a bus ride through the South Bronx; Joy Harjo plays the ukulele; and Kevin Young, on occasion, watches Judge Judy on CBS. Books by these authors will soon be added to the NEA Big Read as part of a new vision for the program to celebrate its tenth anniversary, as well as the NEA’s 50th anniversary. Can you imagine what fun communities around the country will have chatting with them?
- In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
- Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
- Five Skies by Ron Carlson
- Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich
- A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
- How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001 by Joy Harjo
- Sun, Stone, and Shadows, edited by Jorge Hernández
- Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
- Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel
- The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
- When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
- The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
- True Grit by Charles Portis
- Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
- In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
- This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
- The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
- Book of Hours by Kevin Young
- To Live by Yu Hua, translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry
- Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell