The Jackson-Madison County Library is one of 75 nonprofit organizations to receive a $12,600 NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading program. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery.
The Big Read in the Jackson-Madison County area will focus on the novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, with weekly activities and events taking place in September and October 2017.
Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel that tells the story of a small band of actors and musicians 20 years after a flu pandemic has wiped out 99% of the Earth’s population. Like other books in the genre, it highlights the fragility of our existence, our violent nature and our capacity to survive despite the inevitable hardships of starvation, loneliness and chaos; however, this is where the similarities taper off, for the story Mandel chooses to tell is not one of horror and mayhem, but a world of hope, of people coping with nostalgia and loss, both in the present and the future, of the power of art and relationships to fulfill us, sustain us, and nurture us back to our best selves.
This program will provide the community the opportunity to connect to one another in a variety of creative ways around a contemporary novel that was named one of the best books of 2014 by more than a dozen publications, including winning the Arthur C. Clark Award and being a finalist for the National Book Award.
As part of the NEA Big Read, the community will not only be invited to read Station Eleven, but to participate in special events and programs that will be designed to explore major themes in the novel, with a kickoff event at the Main Library slated for Sat., Sept. 9. As part of the program, copies of the novel will be made widely available throughout the community, as well as through the schools for use by teachers.