NEA Big Read at UCF • January 8 – February 4, 2018

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

This year, UCF is one of 75 participating communities. The NEA Big Read at UCF is presented in partnership with Seminole County Public Library.

We will celebrate The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, the debut novel of MacArthur Foundation Fellow Dinaw Mengestu. Events include an art exhibition and play, book clubs, lectures, artist talks, and book signing.

Illustration of Dinaw Mengestu

“After seventeen years here,
I am certain of at least one thing:
the liberal idea of America
is at its best in advertising.”

Sepha Stephanos in The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

Upcoming Events

UCF Art Gallery Presents Finding Home: The Global Refugee Crisis

Mon, Jan 8, 2018 - 10 a.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Finding Home: The Global Refugee Crisis will be on exhibit at the UCF Art Gallery January 8 - February 2, 2018. Featuring work by Reem Bassous, Alexis…

NEA Big Read Kick-Off

Mon, Jan 8, 2018 - 12 p.m. at John C. Hitt Library

Pick up a complimentary copy of Dinaw Mengestu's debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the…

Poetry Reading by Obi Nwakanma

Tue, Jan 16, 2018 - 12 p.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Poet, journalist, biographer and literary critic, Obi Nwakanma will read from his latest collection of poetry. Thirsting for Sunlight, his biography of the tragic modernist poet,…

Reading and Book Signing: Dinaw Mengestu

Thu, Jan 18, 2018 - 5 p.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Come enjoy a reading and book signing by Dinaw Mengestu, the award-winning author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read…

Staged Reading of "The Refugee Plays"

Fri, Jan 26, 2018 - 5 p.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Directed by Mark Brotherton, The Refugee Plays is a series of short plays that explore the experiences of refugees and undocumented immigrants in the United States,…

Pentecost Talk Back

Sat, Jan 27, 2018 - 10 p.m. at Main Stage Theatre: Building 6

Join Christopher Niess, Director of Pentecost, and Margaret Ann Zaho, Associate Professor of Art History, for a discussion of the play immediately following the theatrical…

The "Orient" in the "West" and Beyond: Reflections on Contemporary Refugee Politics

Tue, Jan 30, 2018 - 4 p.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Dr. Güneş Murat Tezcür, the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies at UCF and the author of Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of…

Artist Talk by Hiwa K

Thu, Feb 1, 2018 - 4 p.m. at UCF Art Gallery

Internationally renowned artist Hiwa K will talk about his work in Finding Home: The Global Refugee Crisis. Hiwa K has participated in international exhibitions including…

Youth Programs

Seminole County Public Library will have a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” themed program for each of its Library Explorers Clubs.

Kids will explore the themes of community, diversity, and being welcoming — whether someone has just moved to a new school, their family has moved to a new country, or maybe they’ve never thought about the wonderful mix of cultures and traditions present in their own community.

Library Explorers Clubs are free and open to all K-5th graders. Parents welcome, but not required. Children do not need to have attended previous clubs.

SCPL Central Branch (Casselberry)

Wednesday, January 15, 2018 • 4:00–4:45 p.m.
215 North Oxford Road, Casselberry , FL 32707


SPCL Northwest Branch (Lake Mary)

Thursday, March 9, 2018 • 4:00–4:45 p.m.
580 Green Way Boulevard, Lake Mary, FL 32746


SCPL East Branch (Oviedo)

Wednesday, March 29, 2018 • 3:00–3:45 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779


SCPL North Branch (Sanford)

Wednesday, March 15, 2018 • 3:30–4:15 p.m.
150 N. Palmetto Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771


SCPL West Branch (Wekiva/Longwood)

Wednesday, March 8, 2018 • 3:00–3:45 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779

Book Clubs

Seminole County Public Library adult book clubs will read and discuss The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. The clubs will host discussions that are open to the public.

SCPL Central Branch (Casselberry)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 • 6:30 p.m.
215 North Oxford Road, Casselberry , FL 32707


SCPL East Branch (Oviedo)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 • 6:30 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779


SCPL West Branch (Wekiva/Longwood)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 • 6:30 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779


SCPL East Branch (Oviedo)

Tuesday January 9, 2018 • 1:00 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779


SCPL North Branch (Sanford)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 • 6:30 p.m.
150 N. Palmetto Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771


SCPL West Branch (Wekiva/Longwood)

Wednesday January 17, 2018 • 6:30 p.m.
245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, FL 32779


This non-fiction book club will discuss A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah as a complimentary title to The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears.

SPCL Northwest Branch (Lake Mary)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 • 12:30 p.m.
580 Green Way Boulevard, Lake Mary, FL 32746