Big Read Letter
It has been ten years since Roswell has last experienced a Big Read, a program funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, in which the whole community is invited to read a book selected from one of 32 chosen by the NEA and to join in one of more than a dozen events designed to “inspire conversation and discovery.” Under the auspices of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and its librarian, Rollah Aston, a group of local educators and community leaders has chosen the book Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea as Roswell’s 2020 Big Read selection. The novel, which blends humor and pathos, is a tale that begins in a small town in Sinaloa, Mexico, whose menfolk have largely immigrated to the United States to find work. Inspired by the film The Magnificent Seven, a group of young women from the town decide to go to the U.S. to bring back the errant men to help protect the town from an encroaching drug cartel. As the young heroines travel from Mexico to the United States and cross the border with the help of coyotes, the reader experiences humor, frustration, anxiety, and culture shock along with the characters.
The timely and relatable themes that run through the book offer a variety of opportunities for community events: book discussions, writing contests, panel presentations on immigration and cross-border issues, public showing of films like The Magnificent Seven, workshops on Mexican culture, food, music, and art, and even an interview with the author, Mr. Urrea. To include younger readers, we will select books with similar cross-border themes and will work with the Roswell schools to develop engaging and educational activities for them. We will distribute copies of the novel widely throughout the community to ensure that everyone has a chance to read the book and participate in at least one activity.
Using the Big Read to explore the interaction of the two cultures in the novel—Mexican and American—has the potential to bring our community together in meaningful ways. We are hopeful that we can, with community support, make this a constructive and worthwhile experience for all. Our Big Read Committee is asking area organizations and businesses to consider supporting Roswell’s 2020 Big Read in at least one of the following ways:
- Provide a site for one the activities
- Support/host a 2020 Big Read event
- Publicize the 2020 Big Read
- Provide cash contributions to help pay for the books, publicity, and costs involved in putting on the programs.
Members of the 2020 Big Read Committee are contacting potential partners and supporters on how they can become involved in this exciting community-building undertaking.
Roswell’s 2020 Big Read Committee