JuliaAlvarezAuthor Julia Alvarez is among the special guests taking part in the slate of events for The Big Read 2014, beginning this Monday and centered around her novel IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES. Inset: art by Carlos Frias.

Carlos Frias artThe setting is specific: the Dominican Republic, during the time of the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. The themes, however, are universal — freedom, equality, human rights.

Inspired by the 1960 murders of the three Mirabal sisters, and marking the 20th anniversary of its original publication this year, the novel In the Time of the Butterflies becomes the centerpiece of the second annual Big Read campaign at locations in and around the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College.

Beginning on Monday, October 6 (and “keynoted” with a late-innings appearance by the novel’s author Julia Alvarez), The Big Read 2014 is organized by The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at BCC, in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts and its “initiative to revitalize the role of reading in American popular culture and inspire all citizens, young and old, to participate,” in the words of Chhange Coordinator Deborah Degnan.

The public is welcome to attend events in The Big Read 2014 schedule at Brookdale, beginning with a Monday morning discussion at the Student Life Center building. Reverend William Wipfler, an expert on human rights in Latin America, will speak at 11 am inside the SLC’s Navesink Room, with admission $5 (free to BCC students and Chhange members). On Tuesday, October 7, the building is the setting for a free Live at Lunch performance by the Dominican band Kumba Carey.

On October 22, the Monmouth Museum on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus hosts an opening reception for an exhibit of paintings by Dominican-born artist Carlos Frias, inspired by the Alvarez novel — then on Monday, November 3 at 10 am, special guest speaker Upala Devi, of the United Nations Task Force on Violence Against Women, will speak on the topic at the Student Life Center. Ms. Devi will be joined by Anna Diaz-White of the Monmouth County-based nonprofit 180 Turning Lives Around for an additional 7 pm talk; there’s a $5 admission charge (free to Chhange members and BCC students) for either of the November 3 events.

Red Bank’s Two River Theater will be the scene of dramatic readings from In the Time of the Butterflies on Monday, November 17, with free performances at 1 pm and 7 pm. Then on Tuesday, November 25, Julia Alvarez comes to Lincroft for two events, the first a 10:15 am session for middle school students (who will be studying the author’s young-adult novel Before We Were Free) at the SLC building. It’s followed at 7 pm by a public event inside Brookdale’s Robert J. Collins Arena, for which admission is $10 (free to BCC students).

Take it here to register for any of the above listed events — as well as for details on related book discussions and film screening events going on in Asbury Park, Long Branch, Manasquan and Wall Township.