Miami has long participated in The National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program but this year, it’s personal: The book chosen for the monthlong community reading event is Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying.
“The minute I saw it on the list, I thought ‘Yes! This is the perfect book!’ ” says Lissette Mendez, director of programs for Miami Book Fair. “It deals with a prominent segment of our community. But it’s not just because the author lives here — we had already started trying to do more to highlight Haitian-American life in Miami.”
The usual discussions and workshops on the memoir — in which Danticat writes about her family emigrating to the United States while her uncle stays behind in Haiti — will be offered throughout March, with emphasis on the concepts of exile and immigration. But this year, The Big Read will expand to incorporate already established local events like Big Night in Little Haiti and First Draft: A Literary Social in hopes of including a wider swath of the community. There will also be film screenings, a photography exhibit and other events in English, Spanish and Creole.
Free copies of Brother, I’m Dying will be handed out at all the events on a first-come, first-served basis.
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Here are some of the highlights:
Haiti’s Earthquake and Its Aftermath: A Conversation with Jonathan Katz. Author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster,” Katz was the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti when the earthquake hit in 2010. He’ll discuss the disaster and its aftermath with WLRN’s Nadege Green. 8 p.m. Thursday, Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.
‘Papeles’ y ‘Balseros.’ Prometeo Theatre presents the bilingual play Papeles, and author Ernesto Ochoa presents his Spanish-language novel Balseros. 7 p.m. March 10, Koubek Center, Miami Dade College, 2705 SW Third St., Miami.
Miami: One City, Two Homes: Photography Exhibition. The work of photographers Carl Juste, C.W. Griffin, Woosler Imhotep Delisfort and Stephanie Farokhnia — shot in Little Haiti, Little Havana, Haiti and Cuba — will be on display, as well as some student artwork. Opening 7 p.m. March 11, Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami. Exhibit runs through April 30.
Ayiti Images: Haiti in Film. Stones in the Sun screening and discussion with director Patricia Benoit, 1 p.m. March 12 at O Cinema, 90 NW 29th St., Miami. La Belle Vie screening and discussion with director Rachelle Salnave, 1:30 p.m. March 19, Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.
Big Read @ Big Night: A Feast of Women’s Voices & Big Night In Little Haiti. A big night of music, art, food and culture gets bigger with eight women writers of Haitian descent reading and discussing their recent works (Rebecca N. Carmant, M.J. Fievre, Margaret Papillon, Mahalia Solages, Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel, Fabienne Josaphat, Mireille Sylvain-David and Cynthia Verna.) 6-10 p.m. March 18, Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami.
First Draft: A Literary Social. What happens at a literary social? Eating, drinking and writing (and reading your writing, if you want). Novelist Vanessa Garcia will be the evening’s instructor for writing on the theme “Out of place.” First drink is free, the rest is up to you. 6:30 p.m. March 24, Books & Books at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.
Storypalooza: The Big Read Edition. Got a story about your family that you can tell in four minutes? Head to Storypalooza’s open mic night, where editors from Lip Service — Miami’s homegrown true storytelling event — will give feedback on your submission. 7 p.m. March 26, Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.
Edwidge Danticat in conversation with Americans for Immigrant Justice Executive Director Cheryl Little. The author of “Brother, I’m Dying,” about Danticat’s uncle in Haiti, talks with the attorney who worked on his immigration case. Food by Leela’s Restaurant. 6:30 p.m. March 31, Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami.