This April, the Galesburg Public Library will host its 15th National Endowment for the Arts Big Read!
The Big Read annually provides support to selected libraries and nonprofits around the country to host community-wide reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read title. Organizations apply for funding through a grants program managed by Arts Midwest, and can receive a grant between $5,000 and $20,000. This year, the Galesburg Public Library was 1 of 62 organizations to be awarded a grant. Every year, the Galesburg Public Library gives out free copies of the Big Read title, as well as free copies of the teen and children’s tie-in titles, and hosts book discussions, cultural and musical events, and craft programs, all designed around the themes in the Big Read title. The NEA Big Read in Galesburg is presented in partnership with the Galesburg Public Library Foundation and the Galesburg Community Art Center, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The 2023 Big Read title is Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. Yu is a Taiwanese American writer and screenwriter. Interior Chinatown tells the story of a young Asian American man trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and the discrimination he faces and he is continually relegated to the bit character of “Generic Asian Man”. The book, written as a screenplay, tackles themes of race, stereotyping, and pop culture. In addition to Interior Chinatown, we have a teen tie-in novel, Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao, and a children’s tie-in book, Front Desk by Kelly Yang. A limited number of free copies of both books are available, and we will have discussion of each of them in April.
We will launch our National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program with an improv comedy show at The Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, April 1 at 8:00 PM. The kick-off event will feature Stir Friday Night, the longest-running Asian American comedy team in Chicago. Alumni of Stir Friday Night include Danny Pudi from Community, Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, and Mary Sohn from AP Bio. The group will perform their newest show, the Improvised Martial Art Movie, a 60 minute completely improvised fight choreography experience. The show is free, and is rated PG-13 and geared towards adults. Free copies of Interior Chinatown will be given away, as well as copies of the tie-in books while supplies last.
The Big Read will run the entire month of April, and will feature many other exciting events. On Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM, join us for a presentation by Dr. Ada Cheng, an educator-turned artist, storyteller, and creator. Dr. Cheng will weave personal stories to highlight the myth of the model minority, the negative impact of stereotypes on Asian Americans and their mental health during the pandemic, and the various laws and regulations that have contributed to the construction of Asian Americans as the “other”. The event is free and open to all ages. For adults, there will be several craft events, all led by the Galesburg Community Arts Center. These include a clay workshop and an ink bonsai tree class. Each week during April, Xiaoqi Wu of Eastern Therapeutic will lead four sessions of her intermediate tai chi routine upstairs at the library. The classes are free and open to anyone, but aimed toward people who have done tai chi before. There are also several opportunities to discuss Interior Chinatown with others who have read it.
For teens, there will be a paper lantern making craft night, as well as a discussion Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao. Children can check out the Standish Park Storywalk to read The Ugly Vegetable by Grace Lin, and read and discuss Front Desk by Kelly Yang. There will also be a Big Read kids kickoff event on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:00 PM, where children will be able to taste Chinese treats made by a local Chinese restaurant, and will read stories about Chinese food and do themed crafts.
If you’ve never participated in the Galesburg NEA Big Read before, we hope you’ll pick up a copy of Interior Chinatown, and attend a book discussion or craft event! If you are a regular Big Read attendee, we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for this year. If you have any questions about the Big Read, contact Eileen Castro at email@example.com or 309-343-6118 ext. 6. The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.