Greenwich Reads Together program line up announced

The Steering Committee for Greenwich Reads Together 2015 has released the program lineup for this year’s book, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year selection. Greenwich Reads Together is sponsored by the Friends of Greenwich Library.

The Greenwich community will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities centered on the novel’s major themes – feminism, race and immigration – as well as Nigerian culture and the creative process.  In addition, over 15 adult, children and teen book discussions will be held across Greenwich throughout the month of October.

Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience that engages all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. Programs are open to all, except where noted. Reading Americanah is encouraged, but not necessary to attend. The book is available in multiple formats from the Library.

Visit www.greenwichreadstogether.org for a complete list of over 25 community programs, links to author interviews, book discussion guides and reviews.

Film: Good Hair

Friday, October 16, 8 p.m.

Comedian Chris Rock, the father of two daughters, sought to understand the meaning of “good hair,” as defined by African-American women. His 2009 documentary explores these elaborate hairstyles and their cultural significance with help from Maya Angelou and Tracy Thoms. Presented as part of the Friends Friday Films Series. 96 min.

Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

Inside the Writing Process with Americanah Editor Robin Desser

Monday, October 19, 7 p.m.

Robin Desser, Vice President and Editorial Director at Knopf, will discuss the editing experience on Americanah. Desser will relate how Americanah fits into her experience as an editor and how she chooses her diverse authors and books. She’ll share some of the editing and writing craft, including how she communicates with an author. Desser will be joined in conversation by Dr. Ernie Fleishman, former Greenwich Superintendent of Schools and former Senior Vice President of Education and Corporate Relations at Scholastic.

Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

An Evening with Princess Omaa Adaobi Ume-Ezeoke:  Women’s Roles in Traditional Nigerian Folklore and its Contemporary Impact

Thursday, October 22, 7 p.m.

Join us for an evening with Princess Omaa Adaobi Ume-Ezeoke as she shares stories whose themes reflect traditional Igbo worldviews on the roles of women in contexts of family, marriage and work. The program will include a discussion of these roles in the contemporary environment of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. Free and open to all, no registration required.

Greenwich Historical Society,Vanderbilt Education Center, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob

Panel: Race, Identity, and Perception in Americanah

Tuesday, October 27, 7 p.m.

Dr. Mark Christian, Professor and Chair, Dept. of African and African American Studies, Lehman College – CUNY, will moderate a panel examining the issues of race, identity, and perception in Americanah. Panelists will include Dr. David Canton, Interim Dean and Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College; Ben Talton, Associate Professor of History, Temple University; and Dr. Tracey Walters, Associate Professor and Chair, Dept. of Africana Studies, Stony Brook – SUNY. Free and open to all, no registration required. This event will include the Rotary Club Student Essay Contest award presentation.

Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

In Support of West African Immigrants: The International Rescue Committee

Wednesday, October 28, 10:45 a.m.

The International Rescue Committee, founded in 1933, helps people worldwide whose lives have been disrupted by conflict and disaster. Through a partnership with the Department of State, the IRC assists over 10,000 refugees to resettle in the U.S. every year, operating in 22 cities. In the New York City area, the IRC helps recent West African immigrants to build strong roots in their new communities, enabling them to gain control over their future. Come hear first-hand about the IRC’s efforts and of the West African immigration experience. Presented by the Retired Men’s Association, this program is open to men and women, no registration is required; refreshments served.   

First Presbyterian Church, 1 Lafayette Place, Greenwich.

The Politics of Race

Wednesday, October 28, 7 p.m.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche in one of her blogs states, “There’s a ladder of racial hierarchy in America. White is always on top…and American Black is always on the bottom, and what’s in the middle depends on time and place.” The breaking down of that “racial hierarchy” has generated a politics of race not seen before in this nation.

Neil Vigdor is a well-known and respected political writer for Hearst Connecticut Newspapers. In January 2015, he was named by the Washington Post as being among the best political reporters in the country. He is uniquely positioned to discuss the premise that American politics at both the state and national levels has become polarized by race…pitting the increased voting strength of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans against conservative, working class whites. Free and open to all, no registration required.

YWCA Greenwich, 259 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

My Nigeria: An Insider’s Look at the Culture & Chaos

Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m.

Catherine Onyemelukwe, the author of Nigeria Revisited, has written extensively about her 24 years in Nigeria, starting as a Peace Corps volunteer and later marrying a Nigerian. She reflects on her experiences and how they changed her idealism into an experienced educator and entrepreneur.  Onyemelukwe lectures widely on Nigeria, its history, its people, multiple cultures and customs.

Free, but reservations are required by calling 203-862-6750.  More info at www.greenwichartscouncil.org; seating is limited.

Greenwich Arts Council, 299 Greenwich Avenue, Second Floor, Greenwich

Film: Half of a Yellow Sun

Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m.

Screening of the 2013 film version of Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, which follows two sisters caught up in a civil war in 1960s Nigeria. Stars Chiewetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose. 111 min, Rated R.

Byram Shubert Library, 21 Mead Avenue, Greenwich

Book Donation

From October 1-17, Greenwich Alliance for Education will collect new or gently used children’s books in donation boxes at Greenwich Library and its Byram Shubert and Cos Cob branches. On October 21, donated books will be distributed to children at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. No reference or text books, magazines or anything dusty or musty please. For more information contact the Greenwich Alliance for Education at 203-340-2323 or visit www.greenwichalliance.org.

Essay Contest

Greenwich Rotary Club will sponsor an essay contest for students attending Greenwich public and independent schools in grades 6-12. Cash prizes will be awarded at the October 27 Panel event in two categories (grades 6-8 and grades 9-12).

The 2015 GRT Essay Question is:

How does your reading of Americanah: A Novel (or Home of the Brave) make you aware of the challenges of adapting to a new situation? You may want to consider addressing issues raised in the book, such as racism, feminism, immigration, and/or personal identity.

Essays will be evaluated for clarity of expression, persuasiveness, and originality.  Essays must be double-spaced, 1,000 words or less (exclusive of in-text citations or end notes), and submitted as a Word Document or Google Document via e-mail on or before Tuesday, October 13 to [email protected]  Please include the student’s name, grade, and school in the body of the e-mail. For full details, please visit www.greenwichreadstogether.org.

Discussion Groups

Organize your own group or join with our community to explore Americanah at one or more of these discussion groups.

Greenwich Pen Women, a branch of the National League of American Pen Women, will provide leaders for book discussion groups of all ages, from teens through seniors. Call Lee Paine at 203-637-3764 for more information.

Discussion Groups for Children and Teens

Bookworms Book Club

Wednesday, October 7, 4:30 p.m.

Students in grades 2-3 will read the Greenwich Reads Together companion book, My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. Pre-registration required; limited to 20 participants. Register and pick up a book at the Children’s Room Desk or call  203-622-7940 for information.

Junior Book Club/Middle School Book Club

Thursday, October 22, 4:30 p.m.

Students in grades 4-8 will read the Greenwich Reads Together companion book, Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. Pre-registration required, limited to 20 participants. Register and pick up a book at the Children’s Room Desk or Second Floor Reference Desk or call 203-622-7915 for information.

Greenwich Public Schools

GHS will hold Greenwich Reads Together Day in late October with programs for students, faculty, and staff.  The day will conclude with a faculty and staff discussion co-moderated by GHS Headmaster Chris Winters and English Department Program Administrator Brigid Barry. Various Social Studies and English teachers will incorporate Americanah and/or its themes into their classes this semester.

Student discussions and group activities concerning Home of the Brave (not open to the general public) will take place at Central, Eastern and Western Middle Schools during October. Activities centering around My Name is Sangoel will be held for younger students at the following elementary schools:  Cos Cob, Glenville, International School at Dundee, Julian Curtiss, New Lebanon, North Mianus, North Street, Old Greenwich, Parkway and Riverside.

Discussion Groups for Adults

Cos Cob Library will offer two book discussions which are open to all, but aimed primarily at adults. The Thursday Evening Book Club will meet on Thursday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss Americanah and the Brown Bag Book Club will meet on Wednesday, October 21 at 12 p.m. to discuss Purple Hibiscus.

Cos Cob Library, 5 Sinawoy Road, Cos Cob

The Friends of Greenwich Library will host a drop-in book discussion of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nigeria Revisited: My Life and Loves Abroad by Catherine Onyemelukwe on Tuesday, October 13 at 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend. No registration required. For more information, call Anne Shafqat in the Friends Office at 203-622-7938.

Meeting Room, Greenwich Library, 101 W. Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

The Byram Book Club will meet Tuesday, October 13, at 3:45 p.m. For more information, please call  203-531-0426.

Community Room, Byram Shubert Library, 21 Mead Avenue, Byram

The International Book Club is open to adults on Tuesday, October 20 at 5 p.m. For more information, please call  203- 531-0426.

Community Room, Byram Shubert Library, 21 Mead Avenue, Byram

The Perrot Memorial Library will host a discussion on Wednesday, October 21, at 7:30 p.m. led by Marcia Hamilton and Joyce French of Greenwich Pen Women. For more information, please call 203-637-1066.

Rand Room, Perrot Memorial Library, 90 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich

The First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich will host a discussion on Sunday, October 4, at 11:20 a.m. led by Esther Bushell of Literary Matters. The public is welcome, no reservations required. For more information, call Kathryn Shorts at 917-842-2192.

2nd Floor Church Chapel, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, 1 W. Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

The Sholom Center for Interfaith Learning and Fellowship will host a discussion on Tuesday, October 27 from 12-1 p.m. at Temple Sholom. Lunch will be provided.  The public is welcome to attend, but RSVP is necessary. Call Alice Schoen  203-542-7165 to register.

Temple Sholom, 300 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

At Home in Greenwich will host a discussion on Tuesday, October 13 at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to attend. To RSVP, contact Lise Jameson at  203-422-2342.

The Next Chapter Book Club will host a discussion of Greenwich Reads Together companion book, Home of the Brave. Please contact ADA and Teen Services Librarian, Ed Morrissey, with any questions or to register at  203-622-7918.

About the Book

Americanah is a powerful, tender story of race and identity, unfolding across three continents.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

The New York Times writes, “Americanah examines blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain, but it’s also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience…. Americanah is … a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us. It never feels false.”

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Americanah has received numerous accolades, including winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction; and being named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.

About Greenwich Reads Together

Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience which engages all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. The organizations leading this effort include, Greenwich Library, Greenwich Alliance for Education, Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich Pen Women, Perrot Memorial Library, the Greenwich Public and Independent Schools, the YWCA of Greenwich and the Friends of Greenwich Library. In 2014, almost 20 community organizations and more than 6,500 Greenwich residents participated in events around The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Numerous adult, children and teen book discussions were held across Greenwich. For more information, visit www.greenwichreadstogether.org.

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