The Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), have received a $16,000 grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program.

The NEA Big Read scheduled for March, broadens one’s understanding of the world, their communities, and themselves through the joy of sharing a good book. This year, The Big Read in Edinburg will focus on the novel In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

The novel transports readers to the Dominican Republic in the mid-20th century when the country struggled under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. A work of historical fiction, the book honors the lives of Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabel, who became icons of freedom and women’s rights in 1960.  The women were accused of being involved in an underground movement against Trujillo’s regime and were assassinated. Their murders inspired many in the Dominican Republic and marked the beginning of the end of Trujillo’s reign. 

Book discussion groups and other Big Read activities will take place during the month of March, including a presentation by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on March 2 at 12 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center on the UTRGV campus in Edinburg.

Grant recipient and UTRGV Creative Writing professor, Dr. Steven Schneider says, “This is an exciting program which will be launched during FESTIBA and will offer an opportunity for the entire community to engage with an important novel through a variety of stimulating programs.”

Past participation in the Big Read was met with great enthusiasm according to Library Director Leticia Leija.

“This year we hope to continue the excitement generated by the shared experience of reading the same book, as we jointly read and discuss In the Time of the Butterflies,” Leija said. “This book is sure to engage our Hispanic community in vivid book discussions planned in various libraries and schools throughout Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties.”

For more information about the NEA Big Read visit neabigread.org. To participate in a community book discussion contact Jose Tamez or Omero Morales at 956-383-6246 or visit the library located at 1906 South Closner Boulevard.