About the Series

Illinois Humanities is proud to announce that we received a third NEA Big Read grant.

We will be offering public programming and book groups centered around Sarah Smarsh‘s Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth and Patricia Engel‘s Infinite Country.

Equal parts personal narrative and cultural analysis, Heartland examines Smarsh’s childhood on a farm 30 miles west of Wichita, Kansas, mapping family histories against the rapidly changing landscape of class and labor in the United States during the latter part of the 20th century.

Set in Colombia and the United States, Infinite Country tells the powerful tale of a family divided as seen through the shifting perspectives of each family member. Award-winning author Patricia Engel examines the beauty and cruelty of life in the diaspora, crafting “a breathtaking story of the unimaginable prices paid for a better life” (Esquire).

Programming will start late fall 2023 and continue through spring 2024. Stay current on our NEA Big Read programming by joining our NEA Big Read email list.

For more information about the NEA Big Read initiative and to view a list of the sixty-two 2023-2024 grant recipients, click here.

The NEA Big Read is a program of Illinois Humanities made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

2022-3 NEA Big Read Programming

2021-2 NEA Big Read Programming