Japanese Drumming, Folk Music, Food at Duquesne’s Big Read Kick-Off

Members of the Duquesne University and Pittsburgh communities are invited to enjoy live music and Japanese Taiko drumming performances, sample authentic Japanese cuisine and pick up a free book at the kick off of Duquesne's Spring 2017 Big Read on Thursday, March 16.

An initiative funded by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, the Big Read at Duquesne features Julie Otsuka's novel When the Emperor Was Divine, which tells the story of a Japanese-American family forced from their Berkeley, Calif., home and sent to live in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

A limited supply of free copies of When the Emperor Was Divine will be available at the Big Read kick-off, which will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Duquesne University's Genesius Theater. In addition, Duquesne Adjunct Professor Keiko Rushlander from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will perform Japanese folk songs; the Pittsburgh Taiko drumming group will perform; and authentic Japanese onigiri (rice balls) will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

"We knew the novel could spark a dialogue on campus, but the involvement of the Pittsburgh community in our Big Read program so far has really been exciting," said Duquesne Outreach and Communications Librarian Christie Kliewer. "We have people who are visiting campus stop in to look at the beautiful paper cranes made at an earlier event and learn about the experiences of Japanese-American internment through our Dorothea Lange photo exhibit. The Big Read really provides a great opportunity to explore and engage in diverse perspectives, and we're looking forward to celebrating the Kick-Off event with the community."

When the Emperor Was Divine author Otsuka will visit Duquesne University on Thursday, March 30, to discuss her book and its cultural impact, and to answer questions.

For more information on Otsuka's visit and Duquesne's Big Read project (including overviews and reviews of the novel; teacher resources; videos and podcasts related to When the Emperor Was Divine), visit the library's website.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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