Reading with the First Lady of NYC

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.55.47 PMA debut novel by a Bangladeshi American is the first choice for a new reading club launched by Chirlane McCray, first lady of New York City, the Gracie Mansion Conservancy announced April 12. The Gracie Book Club was described in a press release as “a collaborative effort between First Lady Chirlane McCray and renowned New York City authors to foster conversation on a curated selection of literary works.”

“Bright Lines” by Tanwi Nandini Islam is the book club’s first work, selected by McCray and author James Hannaham, who will moderate the first book club discussion on May 17 at 6 p.m. at Gracie Mansion. “Bright Lines,” published in 2015, is set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh.

Author Islam describes her novel as “my love letter to a New York City composed of distant neighbors. I wanted to juxtapose the million histories and parallel lives that are always unfurling at the same moment. What happens when you focus the lens on an immigrant family home in Clinton Hill, an apothecary on Atlantic Avenue or a garden apartment beauty salon? I wanted to bring together characters not often seen in dialogue in literature. It was important to me to write a story about Bangladeshis in New York City, as we are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups of the last decade. At the story’s heart, three young people navigate summertime in their city, riding on their bikes, breaking not only physical boundaries of location, but also psychic ones, of what is expected of them, who they desire and ultimately, where they belong.”

The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library systems will all be making extra copies of “Bright Lines” available in every library branch. To learn about the ticket giveaway for the book club discussion, go to Gracie Book Club.

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