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This year’s pick: Purdue’s ‘Big Read’
Purdue’s Big Read picks a new translation of a 16th century Chinese epic. Plus, early voting wraps up in West Lafayette’s primary, headed into Tuesday’s election
Thanks today to sponsor Bike Walk Greater Lafayette Network, celebrating the first day of Bike Month. Whether you’re riding for fun, fitness, with family or taking essential trips to work or shop, you are part of our movement for safer streets, connected communities, a healthier planet and happier people. Locally, the Bike Walk Greater Lafayette Network is endorsing many local events organized by bike clubs, teams, community organizations and businesses. A full calendar of events hosted during Bike Month – including Bike to Work Day Friday, May 19 – can be found on the Bike Walk Greater Lafayette website, bikewalkgreaterlafayette.org under the “Have Fun” tab. For more bike links: Here are Local Clubs, regular updates and rides with the Wabash River Cycle Club, the Tippecanoe Mountain Bike Association, Lafayette Bike Polo and the City of Lafayette FB page for a special “Race into Bike Month” video premiering Tuesday.
PURDUE’S ‘BIG READ’ PICKS ‘MONKEY KING’
The Purdue English Department’s annual Big Read doesn’t really get rolling until the fall. But it unveiled this year’s selection last week during a reception at the West Lafayette Public Library.
The pick: “Monkey King,” a 16th century epic that also goes by “Journey to the West,” by Wu Cheng’en. The version being delivered to libraries in Greater Lafayette later this month is a 2021 translation by Julia Lovell, a professor of modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck College at the University of London.
“We’re always looking to find books that can broaden horizons for readers here,” Derek Pacheco, an associate professor of English at Purdue and the Harriet M. Crews and Sandra K. Biggs Director of the Big Read, said. “This one fits that bill.”
The Big Read has been going since 2017, aimed at bringing people together for reading and discussion of timely, relevant works of literature. The books are free, funded through an endowment set up by donors Harriet Crews and Sandy Biggs, available at public libraries. (Pacheco said libraries should have their copies by mid-May. West Lafayette Public Library had a batch as of last week.)
Programming will start in earnest in September. Pacheco said that announcing the book in the spring and making copies available at no cost to readers now gives people time to read over the summer and come prepared to discuss in the fall. The Big Read has become a staple in some high school classes and for Wabash Area Lifetime Learning Association (WALLA).
That’s the case for Cindy Aubuchon’s honors English students at McCutcheon High School, when “Monkey King” will be among the assigned reading over the summer.
“The Big Read is great, getting something beyond the classics,” Aubuchon said. “And there’s something about telling kids that they get to keep the book, when they come to turn it back in. ‘Really?’ Yes, really. It’s yours.”
Wu Cheng'en was a Ming Dynasty novelist and poet and is believed to be the author of “Journey to the West,” which was published anonymously in 1592, Pacheco said.
Here’s a description of this year’s book, via the Big Read organizers:
“Shapeshifter, mischief-maker, and kung-fu master, the immortal Monkey King doles out punchlines and punches in equal measure. His life of simian shenanigans is interrupted, however, when the Buddha orders him to accompany the monk Tripitaka and a band of unlikely allies on a journey from China to India to find sacred sutras for the Tang Dynasty. Together, their trials narrate allegories of personal growth, spiritual awakening, and intercultural appreciation. In whirlwind fashion, Julia Lovell’s adaptation of Wu Cheng'en’s ‘Journey to the West’ presents the classic Chinese epic as a fast-paced adventure, filled with humor and heart. It is sure to captivate readers of all ages.”
Past books in the Big Read included: “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel; “Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead; Emily Wilson’s translation of “The Odyssey;” Naomi Novik’s “Spinning Silver;” and last year’s entry, “Mexican Gothic,” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
For more information, schedules and how to get in on the Big Read, go to: www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/english/the-big-read
On that note …
HAPPY 100TH, WEST LAFAYETTE PUBLIC LIBRARY: The West Lafayette Public Library will mark 100 years in May, starting with a birthday party Monday. The library opened May 1, 1923. The library, 208 W. Columbia St., will celebrate throughout the coming year, including a Children’s Department party at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
EARLY VOTING ENDS AT NOON MONDAY; PRIMARY DAY TUESDAY IN WEST SIDE ELECTIONS
Early voting will end at noon Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s municipal primary in West Lafayette.
The only game in town: Four Democrats – incumbents James Blanco, David Sanders and Gerald Thomas, along with Iris O’Donnell Bellisario – on the primary ballot for three at-large seats on the West Lafayette City Council. Because the four candidates are running for citywide, at-large seats on the West Lafayette City Council, residents across the city who pull Democratic ballots may vote. Because there are no contested Democratic or Republican races in Lafayette, voters there will have no primary.
Meet the candidates: For Q&A, bios and coverage of a televised debate, here’s a look at the candidates.
Early voting, last chance: 8 a.m.-noon Monday, May 1, Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third St., Lafayette.
Election Day voting: Polls will be open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, at these sites in West Lafayette:
Purdue Black Cultural Center, 1100 Third St.
West Lafayette Wellness Center, 1101 Kalberer Road
Faith West Community Center, 1920 Northwestern Ave.
West Lafayette City Hall, 222 N. Chauncey Ave.
Connection Point Church, 2541 Cumberland Ave.
Check your voter registration status: Go to the Secretary of State’s portal at www.indianavoters.com.
Thanks, again, to sponsor Bike Walk Greater Lafayette Network, celebrating the first day of Bike Month, which runs through May. For more on events, rides and more, here’s your link.
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