Inspired by the 1960 murders of sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal — founders of the Dominican underground movement that opposed the rule of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo — the novel In the Time of the Butterflies marked the 20th anniversary of its original publication this year, by being selected as the subject of the second annual Big Read initiative for Monmouth County.
While the setting for the book by Julia Alvarez is specific to the Dominican Republic in the 1950s, the themes — freedom, equality, human rights — are universal. Beginning early last month, the slate of Big Read events organized by The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College went well beyond the printed page, encompassing art exhibits, musical performances, screenings of the 2001 Butterflies feature film, and a program of dramatic readings at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.
This Tuesday, November 25, The Big Read 2014 comes to a head with a visit by Julia Alvarez herself, as the author travels to BCC’s Lincroft campus for a pair of personal appearances.
The day begins with a 10:15 am session in which Alvarez addresses an audience of middle school students (who will be studying the author’s young-adult novel Before We Were Free) at Brookdale’s Student Life Center building. Then at 7 pm, the public is invited to BCC’s Robert J. Collins Arena, for a late-innings “keynote” address in which Alvarez discusses the historical and personal origins of Butterflies, its ongoing impact and relevancy to our 21st century world and times. Admission to the event is $10 (free to BCC students).
Take it here to register for this centerpiece event of The Big Read 2014, a “One City, One Book” campaign designed to get the entire community reading and discussing the same literary work — as well as, in the words of Chhange Coordinator Deborah Degnan, “to revitalize the role of reading in American popular culture and inspire all citizens, young and old, to participate.”