New York may already be lauded for its legendary literary scene, but if the Mayor’s office has its way, those literary lions are about to get a whole lot more democratic. The New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) today announced a new initiative, “One Book, One NY” which will be fêted at a party with BuzzFeed tonight and which aims to get all of New York City on the same page—literally. The idea is, essentially, a giant book club, or a “one book read campaign,” the likes of which have occurred over the years in Chicago, Seattle and other cities. A previous effort in New York in 2002 fell apart “amid a split between factions of its organizing committee over which book to recommend,” according to a New York Times article at the time, which MOME has remedied by employing their own committee made up of “the heads of the NY Public Library, the deans of the major academic institutions, and leaders of the book publishing industry,” according to a rep, who all helped narrow the field.
The result is five award-winning novels: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith and The Sellout by Paul Beatty. New Yorkers are invited to cast their votes online or at kiosks on subway platforms throughout the city, with the results to be announced on March 1st, after which all five boroughs will have three months to read the winning book. MOME has planned at least six community-based reading events, some of which will be with the authors. “The publishing industry is a vital element of the city’s creative economy. We’re thrilled to celebrate our enduring literary capital with the One Book, One New York program,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin in a statement given to press. “All five of the nominated titles are fantastic, and we invite New Yorkers from all five boroughs for the chance to vote for your favorite NYC read. One Book, One New York will help readers connect with one another while rediscovering their libraries and their independent neighborhood bookstores.” The program also features celebrity advocates for each book: Bebe Neuwirth, William H. Macy, Giancarlo Esposito, Larry Wilmore, and Danielle Brooks, who have all taped on-camera segments touting the importance of a book and urging New Yorkers to vote online. The culminating event, in June, will be something of a big book club meeting, with fans of the book coming to the New York Public Library to take in a conversation between its author and the senior book editor at BuzzFeed.
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