The Big Read is a nationwide reading initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, in cooperation with Arts Midwest, and with different community partners across the country to provide engaging educational resources for discussing outstanding literature.
The Big Read program was created in response to the NEA report Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, which identified a critical decline in literary reading among American adults. The National Endowment for the Arts is working to reverse this decline in reading by awarding grants for Big Read projects across the country in order to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
The Big Read in Central Illinois is highlighting The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the debut novel of author Carson McCullers. The book, which explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South, became a literary sensation that rose rapidly to the top of the best seller lists in 1940. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was the first in a string of works by McCullers to give a voice to the rejected, forgotten, mistreated and oppressed. The novel was chosen as a selection for Oprah’s Book Club in 2004 and was included in Time magazine's 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
The partners of The Big Read in Central Illinois will examine a few of the themes covered in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter including communication, the Great Depression era, isolation and music. The themes will be interwoven into various programs and events taking place at different venues throughout the Central Illinois communities of Chatham, Jacksonville, Pleasant Plains, Rochester, Sherman, Springfield and Williamsville. Take a look at our schedule of events and join us!
Carson McCullers 's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter radio show is narrated by Dana Gioia and features Blake Hazard, E. Ethelbert Miller, P.J. O'Rourke, Mary-Louise Parker, Gore Vidal, and Jim White.
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