Thursday, August 18, 2011. Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey announced The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow as the 21st One Book, One Chicago selection yesterday at the Harold Washington Library Center.
In reaction to the choice, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel quipped, “This fall, I encourage all Chicagoans to pick up a copy of The Adventures of Augie March and explore the seedier side of early 20th century Chicago.”
The book centers on the life and times of Augie March, a young man who grows up in Chicago during the Great Depression along with his two brothers and mother. Readers see Chicago through the eyes of Augie—from the pool halls to the welfare lines, the downtown movie houses to the quiet parks. Augie moves from job to job, mentor to mentor, poor to wealthy and back again, meeting a vast array of unique and sometimes hilarious characters all brought to life through Bellow’s rich language.
Twice annually since fall 2001, a book has been selected and promoted to all of Chicago. Book discussions take place in over 50 library locations as well as outside locations, and several public programs are created to further enrich the experience of reading the book.
Numerous events have been created in conjunction with the current One Book, One Chicago selection, including a two-part Chicago Public Library branch book club series, that will bring the life and times of Augie March to Chicago neighborhoods throughout September and October.
Other Upcoming events include:
- Author discussion with British novelist Martin Amis and Sun-Times publisher John Barron on Amis’ friendship with Saul Bellow and respect of Bellow’s novels.
- Lecture by Chicago historian Dominic Pacyga on an exploration of Depression-era Chicago and the type of life Augie must have endured.
- A conversation featuring Saul Bellow’s widow Janis Freedman-Bellow and editor Benjamin Taylor (Saul Bellow: Letters), with scholar and writer Jonathan Wilson, on Bellow’s personal archive and letters.
- A staged reading of excerpts from The Adventures of Augie March at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater featuring actors from local theater companies including Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass and Teatro Vista.
- Author discussion with young adult fiction writers John Green and Benjamin Alire Sáenz with book critic Donna Seaman about creating young “coming of age” characters in novels.
- A reading and discussion of Chicago as literary inspiration with Stuart Dybek, Achy Obejas, Natalie Moore, Jaswinder Bolina and J.C. Gabel, at the Stop Smiling Storefront.
- Chicago Flash Fiction Writing Contest seeking original and brief (750 words or less) stories set in Chicago and inspired by Chicago.
- Chicago Public Library Poster Design Contest celebrating the 10th anniversary of One Book, One Chicago.
- An exhibition of fine bookbindings and artistic renderings interpreting past One Book, One Chicago selections, titled One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition.
- A DePaul University Department of English course, taught by Professor Hugh Ingrasci, dedicated to exploring the literary facets of The Adventures of Augie March.
- A Harold Washington College Department of English course, taught by Assistant Professor Judy Rivera-van Schagen, on the hero’s journey of self-actualization as described in The Adventures of Augie March.
- YOUmedia: Chicago Stories Teen Showcase featuring high school students telling their own Chicago-themed stories in poetry, prose and other multimedia pieces.
- A series of creative writing workshops at select Chicago Public Library locations, hosted by authors including J. Adams Oaks, Laura Ruby, Nnedi Okorafor, Mary Osborne, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, James Klise and Earl Sewell.
More Information. For more information, please visit the Library’s website or call the Chicago Public Library Press Office at (312) 747-4050.
Past One Book, One Chicago selections have been To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Night by Elie Wiesel, My Ántonia by Willa Cather, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, The Ox- Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City by Carl Smith, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, A Mercy by Toni Morrison and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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