NEA Big Read logo

MSUB Library and the Writer's Voice present

The NEA/Big Read Program

 BOOK DISCUSSIONS! Pick up a free copy of the book at the MSUB Library or the Billings Public Library and sign up for a discussion group.

cover image of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


The NEA Big Read kicks off Thursday, January 17 at the Northcutt Steele Gallery with an art installation by Jennifer Eli French entitled: This Vibrant, Tarnished World.

The exhibition is French’s fantasy-full, personal interpretation of the futuristic novel, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A series of lectures, films, and book discussions will continue through February as a part of a community-wide celebration of the novel. The NEA Big Read in Billings is presented by The Writer’s Voice in partnership with the MSU-Billings Library.

“What we learn in Station Eleven is although we may live in a world of uncertainty, mere survival is insufficient,” said program director Corby Skinner

In her post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel introduces readers to The Travelling Symphony, which roams unknown territories, twenty years after 99% of the earth has been destroyed. They perform music and Shakespearean plays, dedicated to keeping art and the humanities alive. The band doesn’t focus on the future, but learns to survive with stress, discomfort, and uncertainty. They focus on what they can do right now, no matter what the future brings. They practice skills, make friends, fall in love.

“One of the most important skills young people, or people of any age, can develop is learning to adapt to uncertainty, and this is an important component of the book,” said Skinner.

Emily St. John Mandel's novel, Station Eleven, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by more than a dozen publications.

Beginning January 17, people can pick up a free copy of the book at the MSUB Library, Billings Public Library or This House of Books and sign up for a book discussion group. Books will also be available at the Art Exhibition.

All events will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6:30pm in L.A. 205. Sixteen book discussions are scheduled at various times, dates and venues, information will be available on the MSUB Library website.

Jan. 17
Art Exhibition: This Vibrant, Tarnished World, Northcutt Steele Gallery
NOTE: Reception takes place from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. in Northcutt Steele Gallery.

Jan. 22
Artist's Talk: Jennifer Eli French, Sherri Cornett

Jan 24
Film: Fahrenheit 451

Jan. 29
Panel Discussion: The Things We Keep

Jan. 31
Film: Soylent Green

Feb. 5
Panel Discussion: The Traveling Symphony

Feb. 7
Film: Brazil

Feb. 12
Lecture: Holding Out for Hope: The Functions of Dystopic Storytelling, Gavin J. Woltjer

Feb. 19
Panel Discussion: Women in Dystopian Literature

Feb. 21
Film: Children of Men

Feb 28
Film: The Road

A national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

The Writer's Voice was founded in 1991 to provide access to the arts in non-traditional communities and opportunities for active engagement between writers and audience.

For more information on this event, please contact Corby Skinner,


logos for the Writer's Voice, NEA Big Read, and MSUB Library