February 11, 2021
Image advertising the Conversation with Tayari Jones as part of NEA Big Read

New York Times best-selling author Tayari Jones will discuss her career journey, writing process and themes of her NEA Big Read novel, Silver Sparrow, during a conversation hosted by UCF Alumni, the UCF College of Arts and Humanities and the Florida Prison Education Project. This virtual conversation, taking place on February 23, is the culminating event of the 2021 NEA Big Read: Central Florida.

Jones, who has written four novels, has made waves internationally. Her most recent novel, An American Marriage, is on Barack Obama’s summer reading list and is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection. Jones is also a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship.

Her novel Silver Sparrow became an NEA Big Read Library novel in 2016 and was selected to be the focus of this year’s NEA Big Read: Central Florida. The initiative, hosted for the sixth consecutive year by the College of Arts and Humanities, has organized over 20 events related to Jones’ novel. In collaboration with the UCF Gallery, UCF Libraries, Seminole County Public Libraries and other community partners, CAH has organized discussions, an art exhibition, and a production of the play Blood at the Root.

“Jones’ book … offers an excellent opportunity for UCF to bring impactful programs that celebrate the role of literature in our community,” says Keri Watson, director of the NEA Big Read: Central Florida. “Our programming will coincide with UCF’s celebration of Black History Month and we are working with Africana Studies to bring the Big Read to a new campus audience.”

Silver Sparrow “unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s families – the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters.”

Moderated by English lecturer Jason Gregory ’19MFA, the event will conclude with the opportunity for attendees to ask their most burning questions about the novel. The event is open to the community; advance registration is required at https://www.ucffoundation.org/TayariJones.

ASL interpreters and closed captioning will be provided for this event. Please contact UCF at [email protected] or 407.823.3868 to request any other disability accommodations no later than Feb. 17.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. More information about the NEA Big Read: Central Florida can be found at https://bigread.cah.ucf.edu/