The Big Read 

Get Reading: Zora Neale Hurston’s book gets a big, community-wide push

The Big Read kicked off in Charleston at the beginning of September, but if you haven’t gotten a chance to pick up a copy of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, don’t despair — you’ve got until mid-October to read the book everyone’s talking about.

The Big Read was created by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring communities together to read one book. The Charleston County Public Library is coordinating the event, and an impressive number of local organizations — government, military, schools, businesses — have teamed up to present nearly 70 events taking place throughout the month.

Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of a young black woman struggling to find her voice and identity and the true meaning of love. Hurston herself was a groundbreaking author: a black woman who managed to find a place in the New York arts scene in the 1920s, though she received recognition only after her death. The (mostly free) events taking place through Oct. 14 range from musical performances to plays to lectures to workshops.

Nationally recognized artist Jonathan Green, who designed the promotional poster for The Big Read, will speak about growing up in the Gullah culture of the Lowcountry and his artistic journey (Fri. Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Trident Technical College). Phyllis McEwen will perform Zora Alive!, a one-woman show featuring stories and songs Hurston collected in the 1920s and ’30s, when she worked for the Works Progress Administration. There’s also an extensive list of book discussion groups at libraries throughout the county.

Check out www.ccpl.org for a full list of Big Read events taking place through Oct.14.


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