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Eastern to kick off ‘Big Read’ with book talk by CSCU President Terrence Cheng

Published on October 18, 2022

Eastern to kick off ‘Big Read’ with book talk by CSCU President Terrence Cheng

This year's community reading program to explore 'Interior Chinatown'

Charles Yu
Charles Yu's "Interior Chinatown" is the focus of Eastern's 2022-23 Big Read program. 

Eastern Connecticut State University is one of 62 communities nationwide to receive a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read grant for 2022-23 year. Eastern will host a series of events exploring Charles Yu’s book “Interior Chinatown,” kicking off on Oct. 27 with a talk by Terrence Cheng, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).

Published in 2020 and winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, “Interior Chinatown” considers the model-minority stereotype and lack of on-screen representation for Asian American. “We are excited to host the Big Read for the third year in a row, this time in celebration of Charles Yu’s award-winning novel ‘Interior Chinatown,’” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Like each of the books we have selected through the Big Read program, ‘Interior Chinatown’ is a candid and important account that broadens readers’ cultural awareness and world view.”

Terrence Cheng.
CSCU President Terrence Cheng will kick off this year's program. 

During his Oct. 27 kick-off at 9:30 a.m. in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall, Cheng will speak about his novel “Deep in the Mountains: An Encounter with Zhu Qizhan.” Núñez will introduce the event, which will be moderated by Ben Pauley, chair of the English Department, and conclude with a Q&A session and reception in the Art Gallery.

Eastern’s NEA calendar of events, extending from October 2022–May 2023, includes:

- Coming in November: The Online Interior Chinatown project, featuring a compellation of video recordings of walks through various “Chinatowns" across the U.S. and internationally, including an art exhibition and talks with a focus on multigenerational conflicts and struggles against clichéd roles and stereotypes that haunt immigrant communities.

- Coming in spring 2023: An Eastern Art Gallery exhibition featuring Chinese-American and other American "hyphenatives" for whom the hyphen is a source of relentless investigation and creativity.

- April 13–15, “’SQUID GAME’ AND BEYOND: Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary Asian Popular Culture,’ an international hybrid conference hosted at Central Connecticut State University.

- May 7: Charles Yu's virtual keynote in partnership with multiple NEA Big Read grantees, presented by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and LA Public Library.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Eastern’s Big Read Program is presented in partnership with several other in-state colleges/university and Connecticut public libraries.

For more information, visit Eastern’s Big Read website, or contact Art Professor Lora Lee ( or Art Gallery Director Julia Wintner (

Written by Michael Rouleau