Big Read 2010: Housekeeping

Marilynee Robinson in canoe

A sprawling home in a remote western landscape that witnesses fire, flood, abandonment, and death is the setting for the Marilynne Robinson novel Housekeeping, which is the subject of a community-wide celebration as the Big Read returns to Kansas City during April-May 2010.

About the book

Renowned for its haunting poetic language as well as its ability to adapt to interpretation, this modern American classic has rewarded readers for 30 years. The story is focused on three generations of women living in an isolated community, as told from the perspective of a quiet teenage misfit. Its many unique qualities – from the vivid sense of place to its accessible style and keenly depicted characters – inspire contemplation and discussion, vital elements to the success of the Big Read and its campaign to restore reading to the center of American culture.

In Kansas City, the Big Read features: an appearance by Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda; a public conversation with Robinson conducted by Angela Elam; and a regular serial reading on KKFI that brings Housekeeping into the living room, workplace, or car. One of the book discussions will be led by Library Director Crosby Kemper III.

Signature Events:

  • Housekeeping Tips from Michael Dirda
  • A Conversation with Marilynne Robinson

This Big Read effort includes opportunities to engage other readers online by featuring a special webcast discussion hosted by Channel 9 morning news anchor Donna Pitman.

Funded primarily by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, this Big Read project is a partnership spearheaded by the Kansas City Public Library, Park University, and The Central Exchange. Reader's Guides and companion audio CDs for Housekeeping are available at all Kansas City Public Library locations while supplies last.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as Arts Midwest.

In partnership with the Kansas City Public Library, KKFI presents The Big Read on the Air on weekdays from April 5 - April 23 at 11:30 a.m. Every 30-minute installment of this serial reading of Housekeeping will feature a different reader, including some of Kansas City’s most notable public officials, community leaders, and media personalities.

The first installment of The Big Read on the Air features former Mayor Kay Barnes, with subsequent readers including National Council on the Arts member Joan Israelite, Missouri Sen. Jolie Justus, and Sprint Center GM Brenda Tinnen.

Whether at home, at work, or in the car, KKFI's Big Read on the Air brings literature to you every weekday with insightful readings that can offer either a compelling introduction to the novel or another perspective on its events and significance.

The complete list of readers and corresponding dates is as follows:

  • Monday, April 5: Kay Barnes
  • Tuesday, April 6: Jane Chu
  • Wednesday, April 7: Donna Pitman
  • Thursday, April 8: Miriam Pepper
  • Friday, April 9: Laura Lorson
  • Monday, April 12: Sen. Jolie Justus
  • Tuesday, April 13: Nancy Cervetti
  • Wednesday, April 14: Heidi Van
  • Thursday, April 15: Brenda Tinnen
  • Friday, April 16: Joan Israelite
  • Monday, April 19: Mary Sanchez
  • Tuesday, April 20: Gwen Grant
  • Wednesday, April 21: Dianne Cleaver
  • Thursday, April 22: Billie Howard Barnes
  • Friday, April 23: Angela Elam