Home News & Events 2018 In Review: Where In the World Is...?

2018 In Review: Where In the World Is...?

A new year often marks a period of reflection and gratitude and serves as inspiration to tackle the new year. At Arts Midwest, we wanted to take a moment to look back at all the adventures our Big Read grantees have taken this year. From creative programming to community partnerships, this series explores some of the highlights from the NEA Big Read in 2018.

Where In the World Is…?

In The Catcher In the Rye, J.D. Salinger famously wrote, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
Salinger’s Holden Caulfield would have been surprised by how much it happens with our Big Read authors. From coast to coast, our grantees are welcoming authors to their conversations, kickoffs, keynotes, and more.

  • From keynotes in Michigan to conversations in Texas, Emily St. John Mandel visited NEA Big Read grantees across the nation who were programming with Station Eleven.
    • In Holland, MI, she visited Hope College to speak with Hope students about the writing and publishing process. As part of the larger Lakeshore keynote event, Hope College also hosted a lively “Author in Conversation” event, moderated by Hope College English professor Dr. Stephen Hemenway and touching on everything from the performing arts to the Great Lakes to the genre of post-apocalyptic literature.
    • Odessa Arts welcomed St. John Mandel to participate in a keynote conversation with Executive Director Randy Ham, at a replica of the Globe Theater in Odessa.


A crowded auditorium at Hope College. Photo courtesy of Hope College.


Emily St. John Mandel and Odessa Arts’ Randy Ham in conversation. Photo courtesy of Odessa Arts.

  • Julia Alvarez visited the Lincoln County School District for an astonishing keynote that inspired Lincoln County students to participate in new conversations, new stories, and new ways of listening. From Lincoln County School District teacher McLee Manion at Alvarez’s keynote presentation:

“Days like this reminds me why this work matters. 1100 students listened as Julia Alvarez shared a story of struggle, loss, and triumph. What an incredible message in showing the responsibility we all share in making sure the truth is always told…A highlight of the event was seeing our students realize that the stories we know—the ones we tell and share often—are only a small fraction of the stories out there. There are many stories from many diverse voices that need to be heard.”


Julia Alvarez speaking to Lincoln County School District students. Photo taken by McLee Manion.

  • At the keynote speech given by author Tobias Wolff during the National Steinbeck Center’s NEA Big Read surrounding This Boy’s Life, Wolff inspired students, teachers, and community members to read, write, and share their own stories.


Standing room only for Tobias Wolff’s presentation. Photo courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

Do you have an NEA Big Read adventure to share from 2018? Let us know! Share your story in the Discuss section in the Online Community or tweet #NEABigRead!