The Big Read Comes to Washington Heights

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Ok folks, the first ever Uptown Lit Festival is going down on October 19th at the United Palace of Cultural Arts and Word Up Community Bookshop. What is Uptown Lit? You might ask. Well, Uptown Lit is a day-long literary extravaganza that will take place in the very heart of our community. I’m talking such big names as United States Congressman Luis Gutierrez, political blogger Andrew Sullivan and many more will be on the panels that will take place throughout the day.

As part of the Uptown Lit festivities, yours truly has been chosen to moderate The Big Read, which is an initiative by the National Endowment of the Arts that aims to get communities reading and discussing selected books. The featured book is none other than Luis Alberto Urrea‘s Into the Beautiful North, which is an engaging read that takes a humorous yet revelatory look at immigration. Please stop by Word Up Books and pick up your copy so you can be ready for the big day. See you there.

Uptown Lit will be held on Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the United Palace and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Word Up Community Bookshop. The full schedule of events at can be found at

SEE BELOW FOR  DETAILED PROGRAMMING (all times subject to change):

●      THE NOVELIST’S SUITCASE // Acclaimed fiction writers Nicole Krauss (The History of Love) & Julie Otsuka (The Buddha in the Attic) talk with Francis Mateo about immigration, memory, and transporting readers to other times and places in fiction. [United Palace, 12–1pm]

●      STILL DREAMING OF JUSTICE FOR IMMIGRANTS // Widely considered the national leader of the movement for immigrants’ rights in America, Congressman Luis Gutierrez discusses his new memoir, Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill, and his fight on behalf of immigrants, with Rubén Martínez, television commentator, NPR essayist, and Lannan Award–winning author of Desert America and Crossing Over. [United Palace, 1–2pm]

●      WRITING IN THE HEIGHTS // Pulitzer Prize– and Tony Award–winning writer Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights), hip hop journalist and memoirist Raquel Cepeda (Bird of Paradise and And It Don’t Stop), prize-winning novelist Victor LaValle (The Devil in Silver), and actor and poet Francis Mateo (Ubre Urbe) discuss getting it on the page in their beloved neighborhood, Washington Heights. [United Palace, 2–3pm]

●      THE ART OF ADAPTATION // A slideshow and discussion with the artists who have adapted the world’s great literature for the 3-volume series The Graphic Canon. Featuring political cartoonist Ted Rall (adapting Sherwood Anderson); World War 3 Illustrated founder Seth Tobocman (adapting Frederick Douglass); comics artist Sandy Jimenez (adapting Ambrose Bierce); and acclaimed painter Andrea Arroyo (adapting Gabriela Mistral). [United Palace, 3–4pm]

●      GOD AND THE OUTSIDER // A conversation between National Book Award finalist Richard Rodriguez (Darling and Hunger of Memory) and journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish).  [United Palace, 4–5pm]

●      THE BIG READ:  A COMMUNITY BOOK DISCUSSION // Readers discuss Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, as part of The Big Read, the National Endowment for the Arts’ initiative to encourage whole communities to read and discuss the same book. Moderated by Led Black of the Uptown Collective. With thanks to Center for Fiction. [United Palace, 5–6pm]

With poetry readings throughout the day by Meena Alexander, Eduardo C. Corral, Eric Gamalinda, Rigoberto González, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Sussy Santana.

For workshop and children’s programming schedules, please see 

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