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Florida Center for the Literary Arts Selected as One of Four U.S. Organizations to Receive Major Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Miami, June 17, 2008 - Earlier today, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced that Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA) will be one of four U.S. cultural organizations to receive a major grant to help launch a national reading program called, The Big Read Egypt/U.S. This is the fifth time in four years the national reading program has visited Miami-Dade County. The Big Read is an initiative of the NEA designed to restore reading to the center of American culture by encouraging communities to come together to read the same book.

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 Egypt/U.S. is part of the U.S. State Department’s Global Cultural Initiative, a multi-faceted international cultural diplomacy effort characterized by partnerships with U.S. government and private sector cultural agencies and institutions.

“We’re delighted to once again participate in this wonderful initiative,” said Alina Interian, executive director of the FCLA. “This is an exciting opportunity for the Center and the community.” The literary focus of this year’s reading program is The Thief and the Dogs by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. The Big Read project in Miami will culminate this year’s Miami Book Fair International scheduled for November 2008. “Cultural exchange needs to play a more important role in international relations,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “And there is no better way to understand another nation than to read one of its great books. The NEA is delighted to join with the State Department in The Big Read Egypt/U.S. and to introduce one of Egypt's and the world's greatest writers to American readers.”

The Big Read was launched by the NEA as a pilot program with ten communities in 2006; by 2009 more than 400 Big Read projects will have taken place nationwide. The first international component of The Big Read focused on The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in the U.S. and on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in Russia.

For more information about The Big Read program, including a complete list of novels, visit For more information on other literary activities at the FCLA, call 305-237-3940 or visit

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist

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