Since 1998, community-wide “Reads” programs have been growing in popularity throughout the nation. Although they vary in size and specifics, these community-based shared reading programs are intended to encourage community members to read the same book and attend events that centered around the themes of that chosen work with the goal of bringing the entire community, people of all different backgrounds and social strata, together.
In 2010, a group of dedicated volunteers started Roanoke Valley Reads (RVR), and our local Reads project has grown in popularity and size in the years since. This year, due to that growth and to give RVR the support needed to reach its full potential, RVR has become a program of Blue Ridge Literacy, the region’s adult literacy organization.
October marks the sixth annual Roanoke Valley Read program. This year’s programming includes a film screening, a panel discussion, as well as an Author Talk and book signing by the author of the chosen selection for this year’s Read, Amy Waldman.
The book selection for 2016 is The Submission, an award-winning and highly discussable novel that tells the story of a Muslim-American architect who is chosen through an anonymous process to design the memorial for the 9/11 tragedy. Waldman weaves through multiple storylines about how that impacts the architect, an undocumented immigrant, the jury members, family members of the victims, and ultimately the entire country.
The novel examines themes of tolerance, acceptance, Islamophobia, and the role of art in the healing of a nation. It is piercing and resonant, and very relevant in the highly charged, hyper-polarized political climate of America today. Roanoke Valley Reads has planned two events (in addition to the Author Talk) designed to help our community discuss the difficult themes and questions the book raises, in order to create a space for constructive dialogue and build a stronger community despite the issues that are dividing our nation, and indeed, the world.
The first activity is a free film screening of the acclaimed film Inside Islam: What A Billion Muslims Really Think, a documentary outlining the worldwide Gallup poll conducted after the events of September 11. Muslims worldwide were polled on their opinions of modern issues ranging from gender inequality to terrorism. The screening will be held October 12th, 7:15 pm, in the historic Grandin Theatre, and will be followed by a brief community discussion.
The second event is a free panel, “Moving Beyond Hate and Mistrust.” It will focus on why mankind has a tendency to be wary of those whom are different, and how to overcome those tendencies individually and as a society. The discussion will be held October 20th, 6:30 pm, at the Taubman Museum of Art. It will feature speakers such as Dr Saleem Ahmen, State Delegate Sam Rasoul, and Dr. Dana Ackley. A tour of the Islam-inspired installation by Eric Standley, Daphne, will be offered immediately before the panel.
The culminating event is the Author Talk and book signing. Amy Waldman herself will speak at the Jefferson Center at 7:00 pm on October 27th, immediately followed by a book signing. This event, as with the others, is free and open to the public, with no advance reservation required.
Please contact RVR Coordinator Portia Boggs with questions or ideas, or to notify Blue Ridge Literacy that your book club or a group you’re a part of plan to read The Submission or host a mini-event about the book. Learn more: http://www.brlit.org/