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UNG reads "Bless Me Ultima"

UNG Reads Bless Me Ultima
"Bless Me Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya is the book chosen for UNG Reads

The University of North Georgia (UNG) will collaborate with local libraries, youth organizations, nonprofit groups, and businesses to promote a love of reading in the community with the launch of UNG Reads from Sept. 30 through Nov. 4.

The novel "Bless Me, Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya was selected by the UNG Reads project committee to engage the growing north Georgia population in a community-wide program, said Dr. Tanya Bennett, professor of English, Dean of the Honors Program, and UNG Reads project director.

"We chose 'Bless Me, Ultima' in part because of its literary beauty, but also because of its relatability to north Georgians with a Hispanic heritage, and its resonance with readers as a coming-of-age story," Bennett said. "More specifically, though, the novel explores the difficulty of navigating between American values and those of indigenous peoples, between a capitalist perspective and a respectful communion with nature, and between Catholicism and native spiritual practices."

"Bless Me, Ultima" is set in rural New Mexico in the 1940s and tells the story of a Mexican-American boy, Anthony, who learns to navigate the changing American landscape during World War II. He gets help from Ultima, a curandera (female faith healer) who guides him through the cultural, religious, and moral conflicts he faces in his community.

UNG Reads will sponsor several on-campus and community events in October. Area partners include public libraries in Fannin, Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin and Oconee counties, the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition, Hall County United Way and the Lyman Hall Boys and Girls Club of Gainesville.

Bennett said UNG Reads parallels other common reading initiatives such as the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, which celebrates reading community-wide. The 34-member project committee, a cross-section of UNG faculty and staff, and community volunteers, began planning UNG Reads in April 2016.

"UNG Reads is one of several initiatives intended to promote literacy and unity in our region," Bennett said. "We understand that developing residents’ reading proficiency is crucial for north Georgia's economic and social health, and books can help us generate appreciation for one another, especially in a diverse society like ours."

The UNG Reads campus events are listed below; for a complete listing of community events, visit the UNG Reads Facebook page.

Dahlonega

Oct. 7: UNG Reads Kickoff, 1-3 p.m., Vickery House

Oct. 11: Movie, "Bless Me, Ultima," 6 p.m., Hoag Auditorium

Oct. 16: Book discussion, "Bless Me, Ultima," Noon to-1 p.m., Hoag Student Center 209, Meeting Room C

Oct. 25: Visiting Author Daina Chaviano, 6 p.m., HNS 232

Oct. 26: Fantastic Women Marathon Read, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Hoag Great Room

Nov. 2: Day of the Dead Celebration (hosted by Dr. Maria Calatayud), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hoag Student Center, Great Room

Gainesville

Oct. 4: Book discussion, "Bless Me, Ultima," 12 p.m., John Harrison Hosch Library, Room 134

Oct. 5: Movie, "Bless Me, Ultima," 5:30 p.m., Continuing Education & Performing Arts, Room 108

Oct. 25: Visiting Author Daina Chaviano, 6 p.m., video-conferenced at John Harrison Hosch Library, Room 134

Nov. 1: Day of the Dead Celebration (hosted by Dr. Ken Martin), 12-12:50 p.m., Student Center, Robinson Ballroom

Cumming

Oct. 3: UNG Reads kickoff potluck breakfast, 7:30-8:30 a.m., Room 125

Oct. 25: Visiting Author Daina Chaviano, 6 p.m., video-conferenced, Room 246

Oct. 30: Movie, "Bless Me, Ultima," 6 p.m., Room 104

Nov. 2: Day of the Dead Open Mic Night Celebration (hosted by Dr. Fenton Gardner), 4-5:30 p.m., Room 125

Oconee

Oct. 18: Book discussion, "Bless Me, Ultima," Noon to 1 p.m., Student Resource Center, Room 570

Oct. 23: Movie, "Bless Me, Ultima," 5:30–7:30 p.m., Student Resource Center, Room 522

Oct. 25: Visiting Author Daina Chaviano, 6 p.m., video-conference, Student Resource Center Room 522

Oct. 31: Day of the Dead Celebration (hosted by Dr. Ken Martin), Noon to 1 p.m., Student Resource Center, Room 512

Blue Ridge

Oct. 25: Visiting Author Daina Chaviano, 6 p.m., video-conference, Room 107

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