THE BIG READ:

The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz

Mahfouz CaricatureWhat happens when a metropolitan area starts a temporary book club? Someone in Sterling Heights considers picking up a book for the first time in years. An Allen Park reader puts down the romance novel and gives the classics a try. Kids in Dearborn abandon their computer games for a moment to learn something new about their heritage. And in some intangible but worthwhile fashion, the entire community is elevated.

Some 208 communities across the United States are encouraging literary reading through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program The Big Read from September 2008 through June 2009.

During the month of March 2009 in metro Detroit, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) is leading the charge, offering hundreds of free copies of the 1961 novel The Thief and the Dogs by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, thanks to a $10,000 NEA grant and a $10,150 grant from Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET).

Some 17 free related public events – book discussions, films, lectures, even backgammon lessons – will take place around metro Detroit. Venues include the AANM, public library branches, universities and bookstores. Some events will be conducted in both English and Arabic.

Scroll down to view a complete schedule of events.

Among the scheduled speakers are Wayne State University's Dr. May Seikaly and from the University of Michigan, Dr. Waheed Samy and the man who translated The Thief and the Dogs from Arabic into English, Dr. Trevor Legassick.

In addition to the public events and participating locations listed below, book clubs and other area organizations are invited to take part in The Big Read during the month of March. Free books and materials are immediately available by calling Arleen Wood, managing librarian, at the AANM at 313.624.0224.

Individuals will find free copies of the book, as well as circulating copies, reading guides, event schedules and related materials are available at the following locations during regular business hours:

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
313.582.2266
(book/related materials available in both English and Arabic at this location only)

University of Michigan – Dearborn Mardigian Library
4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn
313.593.5598

Sterling Heights Public Library
40255 Dodge Park Road, Sterling Heights
586.446.2669

Free books and materials will also be available during all Big Read events. Questions about The Big Read and any related program may be directed to the AANM’s Library & Resource Center at 313.624.0223.

In addition to support from the NEA and DALNET, the AANM is pleased to recognize the following partner organizations providing programming for The Big Read:

Dearborn Public Library; Wayne State University Library System; University of Michigan – Dearborn Mardigian Library; Sterling Heights Public Library; Metro North Backgammon Club; Plymouth Backgammon Club; Barnes & Noble Booksellers; Hashems Nuts & Coffee Gallery.

 


The Thief and the Dogs CoverAbout The Thief and the Dogs

Out of a Cairo prison for less than a day, thief Said Mahran quickly resumes his old ways, and worse. Angered by his young daughter's refusal to even shake hands with the parent she has not seen in four years, and by the chilly reception from Rauf Ilwan, a former colleague in crime whom he suspects of having betrayed him to the police, Mahran goes berserk and seeks revenge with a gun. But this onetime Robin Hood (an ardent nationalist, he stole only from "people who deserved to be robbed") accidentally murders two innocents instead of his intended victims, the new husband of his ex-wife and Ilwan. Pursued by the press and the police, he finds refuge with a prostitute he knows; her flat has a view of a cemetery. The Nobel laureate writes here with remarkable clarity and eloquence. His tale of the haunted, hunted Mahran is feverish and suspenseful, introspective and subtle. In just 176 pages, he offers a complex psychological portrait of a man hell-bent on ruining himself. – Publishers Weekly (copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.)





Naguib MahfouzAbout Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) is the best-known and most widely respected 20th century writer in Egypt, if not the entire Arab World. His novels, set in 20th century Egypt, delve into cultural and political issues such as the position of women in Egyptian society and the treatment of political prisoners. In 1988, he became the first Arab writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Read a complete biography HERE; Mahfouz’s Nobel lecture HERE; and further information HERE.







The Big ReadAbout The Big Read

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain.

The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively. It provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The initiative includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature, an ambitious national publicity campaign, and an extensive Web site providing comprehensive information on authors and their works.

Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.

The NEA inaugurated The Big Read as a pilot project in 2006 with 10 communities featuring four books. The Big Read continues to expand to include more communities and additional books. By 2009, approximately 400 communities in the U.S. will have hosted a Big Read since the program's 2007 national launch.

 


 

March 2009 Schedule of Events

All events are free and open to the public.

Free copies of The Thief and the Dogs and related materials available during all events listed below and during regular business hours at the Arab American National Museum, Sterling Heights Public Library and Mardigian Library at University of Michigan - Dearborn. Circulating copies are also available for checkout at those locations.

Complete information at 313.624.0223 or www.arabamericanmuseum.org.

Sunday, March 1

Noon-2:30 p.m.
The Big Read Kickoff Hafleh (Party)

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

The Big Read Kickoff Hafleh will transport guests to Egypt through the sights, sounds, foods, and social traditions common to the culture. During the hafleh (party), guests can mingle in the AANM’s Community Courtyard and watch backgammon players challenge each other, while listening to music and tasting the food and drink of Egypt. At 1:30 p.m., University of Michigan professor Dr. Trevor Legassick will speak on his personal experience translating The Thief and the Dogs from Arabic into English, and discuss life in Cairo during the 1950s and 1960s.

Wednesday, March 4

6:30-8:30 p.m.
Film Screening: Adrift on the Nile

Bernath Auditorium, Adamany Undergraduate Library
Wayne State University, Detroit

This 1971 film adaptation of a Naguib Mahfouz novel, directed by Hussein Kamal, focuses on a group of Egyptians threatened by the social upheaval promised by the looming 1967 war. Run time 115 minutes; Arabic with English subtitles. Venue phone: 313.577.6424.

Saturday, March 7

Noon-1:30 p.m.
High School Book Discussion and Free Lunch

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

The AANM has created special programming for high school students during the month of March as part of The Big Read program, including an essay contest with cash prizes. High school students who obtain a free copy of The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz at the AANM and then attend at least one of three Saturday book discussions (free lunch included) at the Museum on March 7, 14 and 21 are eligible to enter the essay contest. First prize is $100, with two honorable mentions receiving $25 each. Contact Kristin at 313.624.0223 or klalonde@accesscommunity.org for contest rules and details.

Saturday, March 7

1:30-3:30 p.m.
Film Screening: Four Women of Egypt & Post-Film Discussion

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Director Tahani Rached’s 1997 documentary is a wide-ranging examination of homeland, politics, culture and faith as seen by four women born and raised in Egypt. Wayne State University professor Dr. May Seikaly leads a discussion on gender and Arab women in 1960s and 1970s Egypt that will enhance the topics examined in the film Run time 90 minutes; Arabic with English subtitles.

Tuesday, March 10

Noon-1 p.m.
Book Discussion

Mardigian Library
University of Michigan - Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn

Join this book discussion to explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and the Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free book and related materials before the discussion at the Arab American National Museum or Mardigian Library. Venue phone: 313.593.5598.

Wednesday, March 11

6:30-8 p.m.                                                                                                                         Film Screening: Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt

Bernath Auditorium, Adamany Undergraduate Library
Wayne State University, Detroit

Omar Sharif narrates this 1997 documentary featuring the story of one of Egypt’s most fascinating artists, singer Umm Kulthum. Over 30 years have passed since her death, yet she remains alive in the hearts and culture of Egypt. Run time 68 minutes; Arabic with English subtitles. Venue phone: 313.577.6424.

Saturday, March 14

Noon-1:30 p.m.
High School Book Discussion and Free Lunch

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

The AANM has created special programming for high school students during the month of March as part of The Big Read program, including an essay contest with cash prizes. High school students who obtain a free copy of The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz at the AANM and then attend at least one of three Saturday book discussions (free lunch included) at the Museum on March 7, 14 and 21 are eligible to enter the essay contest. First prize is $100, with two honorable mentions receiving $25 each. Contact Kristin at 313.624.0223 or klalonde@accesscommunity.org for contest rules and details.

Saturday, March 14

1:30-3:30 p.m.
Families Learn to Play Backgammon (Bilingual: English/Arabic)

Dearborn Public Library - Esper Branch
12929 W. Warren, Dearborn

Families are invited to learn the basics of backgammon, a game that traces its history to ancient times. Backgammon is often played in Egyptian cafes, one of the settings in The Thief and the Dogs. The class is intended for beginners or those who desire a refresher. Instruction provided by the Plymouth Backgammon Club. Venue phone: 313.943.4096.

Wednesday, March 18

6:30-7:30 p.m.
Lecture: Modern Standard vs. Egyptian Arabic Language

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

University of Michigan professor Dr. Waheed Samy will explore the linguistic differences between Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Arabic language.

Thursday, March 19

5:30-7:30 p.m.
Learn to Play Backgammon

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Learn the basics of backgammon, a game that traces its history to ancient times. Backgammon is often played in Egyptian cafes, one of the settings in The Thief and the Dogs. The class is intended for beginners or those who desire a refresher. Instruction provided by the Metro North Backgammon Club.

Friday, March 20

6-9 p.m.
Film Screening: Chased by the Dogs
& Post-Film Discussion

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Inspired by the novel The Thief and the Dogs, this 1962 film directed by Kamal El Sheiken has all the elements of a modern crime novel – betrayal, revenge, murder and redemption. Run time 124 minutes; Arabic with English subtitles. University of Michigan professor Dr. Trevor Legassick will lead a discussion immediately following the screening, highlighting the historical context of the film.

Saturday, March 21

Noon-1:30 p.m.
High School Book Discussion and Free Lunch

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

The AANM has created special programming for high school students during the month of March as part of The Big Read program, including an essay contest with cash prizes. High school students who obtain a free copy of The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz at the AANM and then attend at least one of three Saturday book discussions (free lunch included) at the Museum on March 7, 14 and 21 are eligible to enter the essay contest. First prize is $100, with two honorable mentions receiving $25 each. Contact Kristin at 313.624.0223 or klalonde@accesscommunity.org for contest rules and details.

Saturday, March 21

2-4 p.m.

Children Learn to Play Backgammon

Dearborn Public Library - Henry Ford Centennial Branch
16301 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Children ages eight and up can learn the basics of backgammon, a game that traces its history to ancient times. Backgammon is often played in Egyptian cafes, one of the settings in The Thief and the Dogs. Instruction provided by the Plymouth Backgammon Club.

Sunday, March 22

2-3 p.m.
Book Discussion

Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Fairlane Green
3120 Fairlane Drive, Allen Park

Join this book discussion to explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and the Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free book and materials before the discussion from the Arab American National Museum. Venue phone: 313.271.0688.

Monday, March 23

7-8 p.m.
Book Discussion

Mardigian Library, University of Michigan – Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn

Join this book discussion to explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and The Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free book and materials before the discussion at the Arab American National Museum or U of M Mardigian Library. Venue phone: 313.593.5598.

Wednesday, March 25

Noon-1 p.m.
Book Discussion (Bilingual: English/Arabic)

Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Join a bilingual (English/Arabic) book discussion and explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and the Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free book and materials before the discussion at the Arab American National Museum.

Wednesday, March 25

6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn to Play Backgammon

Sterling Heights Public Library
40255 Dodge Park Road, Sterling Heights

Learn the basics of backgammon, a game that traces its history to ancient times. Backgammon is often played in Egyptian cafes, one of the settings in The Thief and the Dogs. The class is intended for beginners or those who desire a refresher. Instruction provided by the Metro North Backgammon Club. Register online at www.shpl.net or call Sterling Heights Public Library at 586.446.2669.

Thursday, March 26

6:30-8:30 p.m.
Book Discussion

Adamany Undergraduate Library, 3rd Floor Community Room
Wayne State University, Detroit

Join a book discussion and explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and the Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free book and materials before the discussion at the Arab American National Museum. Venue phone: 313.577.6424.

Sunday, March 29  ***CANCELLED***

2-4 p.m.
Learn to Play Backgammon

Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Fairlane Green
3120 Fairlane Drive, Allen Park

Tuesday, March 31

7-8 p.m.
Book Discussion

Sterling Heights Public Library
40255 Dodge Park Road, Sterling Heights

Join this book discussion to explore the themes found in the novel The Thief and the Dogs – betrayal, revenge, murder, and redemption. Pick up a free copy of the book and materials at the Sterling Heights Public Library or Arab American National Museum before attending. Register online at www.shpl.net or call Sterling Heights Public Library at 586.446.2669.

 

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