The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has set the date for bestselling author Emily St. John Mandel’s visit to campus as part of the NEA Big Read program.


Mandel, author of the National Book Award-nominated novel “Station Eleven,” will give a talk and book signing at 7 p.m. March 26 in the Stubblefield Center on campus, located at 532 N. Waldron Road. The university is planning a slate of events centered around the novel that have yet to be announced.


Mandel’s visit is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read, a community reading program. UAFS was the only university in Arkansas to receive the grant.


Set 20 years after a flu pandemic destroys most of civilization, “Station Eleven” tells the story of a woman who moves between the settlements of a devastated world with a small troupe of actors and musicians until they encounter a violent prophet who threatens the existence of the group.


Published in 2014, the novel received mass acclaim, winning the Arthur C. Clarke award and receiving a nomination for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The Independent London said it was “possibly the most captivating and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel you will ever read.”


Hailing from Canada, Mandel is a staff writer for The Millions, an online literary magazine, and is the author of four books, including “The Lola Quartet” and “The Singer’s Gun.” She resides in Brooklyn.


UAFS was one of 79 nonprofit organizations to receive the grant. The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery.


Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $19 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every congressional district in the country. Over the past eleven years, grantees have leveraged more than $44 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 4.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 82,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit arts.gov/neabigread.


For more information on the UAFS Big Read program, contact Dr. Ann-Gee Lee, co-chair of UAFS Big Read, at Ann-Gee.Lee@uafs.edu, Dr. Cammie Sublette, UAFS English, Rhetoric and Writing Department Head, at Cammie.Sublette@uafs.edu, or Dr. Christian Gerard, assistant professor of English, at Christian.Gerard@uafs.edu.


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