Columbia Takes Lead Role in Big Read

April 29, 2009Bookmark and Share
Members of the community, including students, teachers and partners, discuss Columbia University’s lead role in Big Read Egypt/U.S. (3:38)

Since March, Columbia has been hosting a series of local events as part of the Big Read, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. State Department and Arts Midwest. The Big Read is an annual initiative designed to restore reading to the center of American culture by encouraging communities to come together to read the same book. The theme for 2009 is Big Read Egypt/U.S., which showcases The Thief and the Dogs, a 1961 novel by prolific Egyptian writer, Naguib Mahfouz, who won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The final Big Read event of the spring semester series of reading and literary events was a three-way, international video conference between audiences in New York, Alabama and Cairo on April 29, led by Mohamed Salmawy, president of the Egyptian Writers' Union, and a close friend of Mahfouz. Salmawy delivered a speech on Mahfouz’s behalf at the Nobel Prize ceremony.

"Big Read Egypt is such a wonderful opportunity to unite our faculty, our staff, our community partners and our community members around a great work of literature," said Lamar Lovelace, project coordinator in Columbia's Office of Government and Community Affairs, which led the organization of Big Read events at the University. "The NEA, the Department of State and all the other partners who make this possible should be commended. We definitely look forward to partnering in the future."
Columbia’s Big Read Egypt/U.S. events have included film screenings, panel discussions, lectures and a dance performance.

View more information about Columbia's Big Read program of events (PDF).