August 17, 2011
10TH ANNIVERSARY OF ONE BOOK, ONE CHICAGO CELEBRATED WITH CLASSIC CHICAGO NOVEL
Chicago Public Library unveils the latest title in the award-winning program
Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey announced The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow as the 21st One Book, One Chicago selection today at the Harold Washington Library Center.
“Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March is a quintessential Chicago novel and an excellent choice for the One Book, One Chicago program which for 10 years has brought together families, neighborhoods and our entire city around reading,” said Mayor Emanuel. “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.”
One Book, One Chicago began in the fall of 2001, inviting Chicagoans to read the same book at the same time and discuss a great piece of literature with friends and neighbors. Since its inception, the program has offered 20 book selections to Chicago readers, as well as hundreds of relevant programs, tours and discussions.
Included in TIME magazine’s List of 100 Best Novels, The Adventures of Augie March centers on the life and times of a young man who grows up in Chicago during the Great Depression along with his two brothers and mother. Through his experiences with neighbors, friends, lovers, jobs and travels, we discover how his life’s journey is shaped by his escapades and the city around him.
“Saul Bellow portrays the Chicago he knew through the eyes of Augie March—from the pool halls to the welfare lines, the downtown movie houses to the quiet parks,” explains Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey. “Augie moves from job to job, mentor to mentor, poor to wealthy and back again, meeting a vast array of unique and often hilarious characters. Perhaps most remarkable about this novel, however, is Bellow’s rich language.”
Numerous events revolving around the current One Book, One Chicago selection, including a two-part Chicago Public Library branch book club series, will bring the life and times of Augie March to Chicago neighborhoods throughout September and October. Additional programs and events for adults and teens 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.
The 2011 Fall One Book, One Chicago is made possible by the generous support of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, Allstate and BMO Harris Bank. Program Partners include DePaul University, Stop Smiling Books, Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago Tribune, WBEZ-91.5 FM, Park Hyatt Chicago, Chicago Office of Tourism/Culture and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
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.
The Chicago Public Library continues to encourage lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology.
The Chicago Public Library is comprised of the Harold Washington Library Center, two regional libraries and more than 70 neighborhood branches. All locations provide free access to a rich collection of books, DVDs, audio books and music; the Internet and WiFi; newspapers and magazines; sophisticated research databases, many of which can be accessed from a home or office computer. Each location continues to serve as a cultural center, presenting the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. The Harold Washington Library Center, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library and Conrad Sulzer Regional Library are open 7 days a week, the branch libraries are open 6 days a week and patrons can access all of the Library’s collections online 24 hours a day. For more information, please visit the website at chicagopubliclibrary.org or call the Chicago Public Library Press Office at (312) 747-4050.