National Endowment for the Arts Hosts Live Webinar with New Big Read Authors on November 13, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. EST

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, Charles Portis's True Grit, and Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North are Newest Additions to The Big Read Library

Washington, DC -- Three new novels have been added to The Big Read library, joining such classics as To Kill a MockingbirdFahrenheit 451, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Soon communities across the country will experience the conflicts of first-generation Americans in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake; embark on a quest to vanquish a father's murder in Charles Portis's True Grit; and join a mission to protect a town from the bandidosin Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North. The public is invited to join a webinar with Lahiri, Urrea, Professor Carlo Rotella (who will speak about True Grit), and Ira Silverberg, the NEA's director of literature, on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the NEA, will give opening remarks.

Managed by Arts Midwest, The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate a selection from U.S. and world literature. These three new titles will be available for communities taking part in the 2013-2014 Big Read.

"I am excited to see these three exceptional works of contemporary literature join The Big Read library," said NEA Director of Literature Ira Silverberg. "I am always impressed by the creative ways organizations bring their communities together around reading, discussing, and celebrating great books, and I look forward to seeing what innovative ideas these novels inspire." 
This is the first time since 2009 that the NEA has added new titles to The Big Read library. The novels were chosen through a book review committee. Committee members representing a range of voices from the field – including librarians, students, teachers, writers, booksellers, and publishers – read and evaluated suggested titles based on criteria such as the universal appeal of themes, capacity to incite lively and deep discussion, and a focus on expanding the range of voices and stories currently represented in The Big Read library. For more information on The Big Read and how to apply for a grant, visit The Big Read website. Applications for the 2013-2014 Big Read are due by February 5, 2013.

Guests and speakers:

  • Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, will provide opening remarks
  • Ira Silverberg, NEA director of literature, will moderate the discussion with the authors
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake
  • Carlo Rotella, professor of English at Boston College, will speak about Charles Portis's True Grit Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North

How to join the webinar

The webinar is free and open to the public. No registration is required. 

Media may RSVP to Liz Auclair at or 202-682-5744.

To join the webinar, go to and check the "Enter as Guest" radio button. Type in your name and click "Enter Room" to join.  

You may listen using your computer's speakers or dial-in to 1-877-685-5350 and use participant code: 739587. Attendees will be muted but able to type in questions and comments through a text Q&A box.

Follow the conversation on Twitter @NEAarts with the hashtag #NEABigRead.

An archive of the webinar will be available by Thursday, November 15, 2012.


Liz Auclair

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