The Big Read welcomes 11 Oklahoma authors for kickoff event at OU.

As a celebration of literature and community, The Big Read brings out the best in what the Pioneer Library System is all about.

Now in its seventh year to be presented in PLS communities, The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to give readers an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their community and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Big Read in 2013 is focused around the novel “Old School” by Tobias Wolff, which looks at the relationships and challenges of a group of teens at a boarding school in the northeastern United States in the early 1960s.

Students are competing in a writing contest for a chance to meet a famous author and the storyline centers on some of the rules some of them break in trying to win.

The Big Read kicks off with an opportunity to meet 11 noted Oklahoma authors at the Big Read Literary Soiree, set from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, in Beaird Lounge at the Oklahoma Memorial Union. Eight of the authors have won Oklahoma Book Awards and many have earned other state, national or international honors for their work.

Anyone attending the event, which is free and open to the public, will have the chance to walk around the room and meet the authors and learn more about their work, in a setting similar to a scene presented in “Old School.” They’ll also be entertained by the singing of OU student group BYX A Capella.

The authors scheduled to take part are:

B. Kent Anderson, 2006 Oklahoma Book Award winner for fiction and author of four thrillers and historical fiction

Rilla Askew, 2011 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award winner from the Oklahoma Center for the Book

William Bernhardt, two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner with more than 10 million book sales worldwide

Nathan Brown, 2013 Oklahoma Poet Laureate, author of eight books and instructor of Human Relations and Liberal Studies at OU.

Sonia Gensler, 2012 Oklahoma Book Award winner for Young Adult Fiction for her debut novel, “The Revenant”

Molly Levite Griffis, two-time Oklahoma book award winner and author of eight children’s books

Ken Hada, Director of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University and ECU professor

Anna Myers, four-time Oklahoma Book Award winner noted for her books for children and teens

Mel Odom, author of more than 140 books and Professional Writing professor at OU

Bob Perry, author of seven historical fiction books centered primarily in sites in Oklahoma

Constance Squires, 2012 Oklahoma Book Award winner for fiction for her debut novel, “Along the Watchtower”

Throughout March and April, book discussions, movie nights and other programs related to the novel will take place throughout the 10 communities served by PLS hometown libraries.

The Big Read will wrap up with an appearance in Oklahoma by Wolff himself at a pair of public presentations, at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Geiger Center at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, and later that evening at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Middle School Auditorium.

The Big Read is sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Oklahoma Humanities Council, Norman Arts Council, University of Oklahoma Outreach, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, LevyMart Public Relations, the Pioneer Library Foundation and the Pioneer Library System.

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