NORMAN — The Pioneer Library System's Big Read will kick off Wednesday with visits from 11 Oklahoma authors.
Authors will meet and informally discuss their works with visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. in Beaird Lounge at the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Now in its seventh year, the Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest, and is designed to give readers an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their community. The event also is designed to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
Big Read 2013 is focused on the novel “Old School” by Tobias Wolff, which looks at the relationships and challenges of a group of teenagers 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 rules some of them break in trying to win.
The 11 authors at Wednesday's free event will be in a setting similar to a scene presented in “Old School,” spokesman Christian Potts said. People can walk around the room and visit informally with each of the writers.
Entertainment will be provided by the University of Oklahoma group BYDX A Capella.
Participating authors 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; and Nathan Brown, 2013 Oklahoma poet laureate and author of eight books.
Also 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 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University and ECU professor; and Anna Myers, four-time Oklahoma Book Award winner noted for her books for children and teens.
Also scheduled to appear are Mel Odom, author of more than 140 books and a professional writing professor at OU; Bob Perry, author of seven historical fiction books set primarily in Oklahoma; and 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 in the 10 communities served by the Pioneer Library System.
The Big Read will conclude with an appearance by Wolff at 11 a.m. April 25 at the Geiger Center at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and at 7 p.m. April 25 at the Longfellow Middle School auditorium in Norman.