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The Center celebrates reading in 2014 with The Big Read, featuring events and activities inspired by The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, including a flash mob-style Bhangra dance party, film screenings, book discussions, author presentations, Indian cooking demos and tastings, and more!

In The Namesake, Lahiri addresses the themes that have made her books international bestsellers: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture.

Interview with Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake.

Event Highlights

Sunday, March 16
12 p.m. | 14/15 Street & Ocrean Drive, Miami Beach
3 p.m. | Panther Coffee, 2390 N.W. 2nd Avenue, Wynwood

Big Read Kick Off!
Bhangra Time! Flash Performance of Indian Dance with Ranjana Warier to celebrate the Big Read.

Join us for a random act of Indian culture with dancer Ranjana Warier and her troupe from the Rhythms School of Dance, as they present a colorful, unique blend of traditional and contemporary Indian dancing, including Bhangra. Join the dancers, or just enjoy the spectacle and get a free copy of the Big Read 2014 title, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Bhangra is a folk dance originating in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The earliest developed of these was conducted to celebrate the harvest. Extremely popular in North America, Bhangra is known for it's exuberant passion and energy. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as "Bollywood Dancing."

Ranjana Warier was introduced to Indian Classical dance at the age of six and has performed at several festivals in India. Her efforts to educate children on Indian culture and history using dance as a medium have received wide recognition. In 2012, she received a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grant to promote Indian art and culture.

Wednesday, March 26
Noon – 1 p.m. | MDC Wolfson Campus, Student Life Patio

Celebrating Women's History Month at MDC
World Music Dance Party by DJ Rekha

Come join DJ Rehka as she spins her unique blend of Indian music. British-born DJ Rekha is a DJ, curator, record label owner and educator.

Called the "Ambassador of Bhangra" by the New York Times and named one of the most influential South Asians by Newsweek, Rekha is among the first DJs to merge classic Bhangra and Bollywood sounds into the language of contemporary electronic dance music. Her label, Beat Bazaar Music, launched in November of 2011 with its first release, Pyar Baile.

DJ Rehka will also visit Miami Dade College classes reading The Namesake.

Tuesday, April 1
6:30 p.m. | MDC Wolfson Campus, Miami Culinary Institute, 415 N.E. 2nd Ave., Downtown Miami

Passage to India: Gourmet Cooking and Eating with Master Cooking Teacher Ayesha

Ayesha joins The Big Read and offers her legendary cooking class, followed by a feast, in the state-of-the-art wine theater at the Miami Culinary Institute.

"Ayesha's Kitchen offers so much more than just the know-how of how to put together a delicious Indian meal, it takes you on a mystical journey through the legacy of authentic Indian traditional cuisine translating into a rich experience where every meal can be a grand celebration." For more information about Ayesha, visit

$20 Limited seating / This course is SOLD OUT!

Wednesday, April 9
8 p.m. | Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables

Big Read Keynote:
Journalist Suketu Mehta on Maximum Cities: Bombay/New York

Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. Mehta's work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harper's Magazine, Time, and Newsweek, and has been featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" and "All Things Considered."

Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Saturday, April 5
1 – 2 p.m. | Miami Children's Museum, 980 Macarthur Causeway, Miami

The Big Read, for Kids!

Kids can join The Big Read, too. At this special StoryArts meet-up, children will learn about Indian culture as they read along with an artist/literacy educator then create artworks inspired by the chosen books, Rangoli: Discovering the Art of Indian Decoration by Anuradha Ananth, Indian Tales: A Barefoot Collection by Shenaaz Nanji and Elephant Dance: A Journey to India by Theresa Heine and Sheila Moxley.

Adults attending with children will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

Ongoing Big Read Events

March 15 - April 15
Follow us on Pinterest and check out our Big Read boards! We'll be celebrating all things India and much more. On Twitter you can also be a part of our Big Read Twitter chats and get up-to-date info on all of our upcoming events. You can also join in on the fun on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr too! Hashtag #NEABigRead

Facebook: /TheCenteratMDC
Twitter: @thecenteratmdc
Pinterest: /thecenteratmdc
       Indian Cuisine Board - Indian Dance / Bollywood Board - The Namesake Board
Instagram: @miamibookfair

The Big Read: Bollywood Film Series
Screenings throughout the city will explore cultural identity and generational clashes, all set in India or about Indian-American families.

Saturday, March 22, 1 p.m. – O Cinema, 90 NW 29 St.
The Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson
Bring your friends and family to this free screening of Wes Anderson's critically acclaimed comedy-drama, The Darjeeling Limited. The first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

Saturday, March 29, 1 p.m. – O Cinema, 90 NW 29 St.
Bride and Prejudice by Gurinder Chadha
Continuing the Big Read film series is a special screening of the romantic musical Bride and Prejudic, a Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

Saturday, April 12, 7 p.m. – Koubek Center Art Cinema, 2705 SW 3 St.
The Namesake by Mira Nair
Join us for a free screening of this year's Big Read title adaptation, The Namesake, the final film in our Big Read film series. Explore Indian culture and the cross-culture shift through Lahiri's young main character, Gogol. The first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

The Big Read Tumblr: Miami Stories Blog
What's your Miami immigrant story? Your culture clash tale? Share it with The Center in writing and HistoryMiami will place it in its archives, along with the thousands of other Miami-related stories archived at the museum "as a way to illuminate the past and enlighten the future."

Submitted stories will also be published in The Center's blog, and may be published online and in the "Neighbors" section of Sunday's Miami Herald. Select stories may also be published in el Nuevo Herald or broadcast on radio at WLRN-Miami Herald News.

So tell us your story of coming to Miami, culture clashes you've experienced or how you live or experience the various cultures represented in our city. All entrants will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

· 800-1000 words, typed and e-mailed to
· Please attach a family photo or photo of yourself.
· In the subject line, please type: Miami Stories: The Big Read.
· Submission period: Now-April 15
· You will be asked to sign a release allowing publication and archiving. Please note stories might be edited for length and grammar.

Want to tell your story in a medium other than writing? The Center will accept your Miami stories as represented through the visual arts, including photography, painting and film. Please e-mail The Center with questions or attach a scan or copy of your work. Digitized oral histories will also be accepted, on a case-by-case basis. These submissions will not be archived by HistoryMiami. (The Center and HistoryMiami reserve the right to not publish/archive submissions.)

March 15 - April 15
Various dates, times and locations
Discussions on The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri will take place at various branches of the Miami-Dade Public Library System. Visit for exact information.

The Big Read Big Book Giveaway
Want to join The Big Read? The Center will give away copies of The Namesake throughout the month. Come to our Big Read events, "like" us on Facebook or Tweet us, or sign up for our newsletter.