NEA Big Read: King County

A photograph of notices announcing the Japanese internment during WWII

Our goal

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read: King County is a community literacy endeavor in which members have many opportunities to read and discuss a book that matters to Pacific Northwest history and culture. Big Reads culminate with a visit from the author. The community is invited to attend for free.

2020 book selection

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka is the book selection for 2020. This year’s book graphically, and yet stoically, portrays life during the Japanese internment not so very far from where we live in King County.

The King County Library System will provide e-cards for readers to access the book.

How it works

Introduction: The NEA Big Read: King County will be introduced at Seattle Pacific University’s Day of Common Learning on October 16, 2019.

After the kickoff, many people at multiple venues will attend book discussions of the book facilitated by community experts — including events on the SPU campus and events on the Highline College campus.

Hard copies of When the Emperor Was Divine may be available upon request at group discussions.

Register for the online author event

The NEA Big Read: King County event with New York Times bestselling author and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Julie Otsuka, originally scheduled on the Highline and Seattle Pacific campuses for March 9, will take place online Tuesday, May 19, 7–8:15 p.m. via Zoom. 

The event will be hosted by Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho, a local nonprofit preserving and sharing the history of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Know someone interested in World War II history, local history, or reading and discussing great books? Share this information.


If you have questions or comments, please contact:

Kristine Gritter
Literacy Chair, Seattle Pacific University

Monica Twork
Reference Librarian, Highline College Library

Big Read sponsors

The NEA Big Read: King County is sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts, Seattle Pacific University, Highline College, the King County Library System, and Customized Tours and Charters.

NEA Big Read logo Seattle Pacific University King County Library System logo Highline College