Celebrating Michigan Rich Cultural Heritage

Stealing Buddha's Dinner selected for Great Michigan Read

CONTACT: Scott Hirko, Public Relations Officer, 
shirko [at] mihumanities.org
, 517-372-0029 ext. 25

also in PDF

Governor Granholm Proclaims May 19 "The Great Michigan Read Day"

(GRAND RAPIDS)----The Michigan Humanities Council and Meijer announce the selection of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Grand Rapids native Bich Minh Nguyen (pronounced bit-min-win) for the Council’s 2009-2010 Great Michigan Read

At the event, an Executive Declaration from Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was read, proclaiming May 19th as “The Great Michigan Read Day.” The public announcement was held at the Meijer store on 5533 28th Street SE in Grand Rapids and broadcast over the Internet.  Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities are leading sponsors of The Great Michigan Read.

With a statewide focus on a single book, the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read encourages Michiganians to learn more about their state, their history, and their society. The Council’s free supporting programming will focus on three themes: immigration stories, cultural understanding, and contemporary history. 

“It’s an honor to be chosen for a program like this,” said Nguyen. “I hope that residents all over the state enjoy the book and that it stimulates all kinds of important conversations.”

“The book is a perfect springboard for exploring these important issues,” said Janice Fedewa, executive director of the Council. “It’s a great read featuring an honest, youthful voice.”

About Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is a memoir chronicling author Bich Minh Nguyen’s (pictured at right) migration from Vietnam in 1975 and her coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the 1980s. Along the way, she struggles to construct her own cultural identity from a menagerie of uniquely American influences. The book is appropriate for adult and high school readers. Notably, the memoir was selected for the Read Along the Lakeshore program by 12 libraries in West Michigan this past winter. And, Purdue University recently selected the book for its inaugural Common Reading Program for entering students this fall. Nguyen is an associate professor of English at Purdue University. It was selected as a 2008 Michigan Notable Book.

How was Stealing Buddha’s Dinner selected?

The book was selected by a group of nearly 50 librarians, teachers, students, professors, authors, and others from all corners of the state. More than 75 Michigan-related titles were considered for the program.  Sue Patterson, Adult Services Librarian at the Plymouth District Library, served on the book selection committee. “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is an ideal choice for the next Great Michigan Read. It reflects the growing diversity of our state, yet is a universal coming-of-age tale that illustrates the desire to belong,” she said. “The selection process mirrors this choice. Representatives from communities across the state were invited to participate in the process, leading to the consideration of a wide variety of titles and viewpoints.”

How to participate in the Great Michigan Read

Partner organizations can register online for free copies of supporting materials and will be eligible for Council grants for related programming. Readers of The Detroit Free Press will receive a free Great Michigan Read supplement, featuring a full chapter from the book, in the October 9, 2009 edition of the paper. Additional free copies of the supplement will be available to partner organizations and classrooms. On October 13-17, 2009, the Council will feature Nguyen on a five-city author tour, with stops in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Metro Detroit, Midland, and Traverse City. All appearances are free and open to the public.  Other programs and resources, including a teacher’s guide, special media projects, and Facebook applications, will debut throughout the year. The 2009-10 Great Michigan Read will conclude with a Michigan Author Homecoming, scheduled for April 2010.

This is the Council’s second Great Michigan Read. The 2007-08 initiative featured Ernest Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories, inspiring more than 500 programs, events, and activities in 75 of the state’s 83 counties. Highlights included a six-city author tour with Valerie Hemingway and a Michigan Author Homecoming with Richard Ford, Jim Harrison, and Thomas McGuane.

Why The Great Michigan Read?

The Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read is a humanities initiative encouraging the entire state to read the same work of literature. Targeting young adults to seniors, The Great Michigan Read aspires to make literature more accessible and appealing, engaging Michiganians with literature unique to the Great Lakes State while encouraging them to learn more about their state, their history, and their society.

The Michigan Humanities Council, founded in 1974, is an independent, non-profit organization funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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Meijer is a sponsor of the 2009-2010 Great Michigan Read.

Author Bich Minh Nguyen

Bich Minh Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner

Executive Proclamation: May as The Great Michigan Read Day

Governor Granholm's Executive Proclamation for May 19 as "The Great Michigan Read Day"

Michigan Humanities Council

119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B, Lansing, MI 48912

p: 517-372-7770 · f: 517-372-0027


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