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Latino State News

Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” Chosen As the Spring 2011 One Book, One Chicago Selection

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Library officials today announced that Neil Gaiman’s novel, Neverwhere, is the 20th selection for Chicago’s city­ wide book club, One Book, One Chicago.

“Since I’ve been Mayor, I’ve worked hard to encourage Chicagoans to make reading a priority in their lives—which is why a program like One Book, One Chicago is so important,” Daley said in a news conference held at the Harold Washington Library center, 400 S. State St.

“We look at it as a way to bring people together in all our neighborhoods and to foster the kind of communication that can only help make Chicago a better place to live,” he said.

Neverwhere is a fantasy novel. Neil Gaiman is a prolific author who works in many genres—nonfiction, film, comics, young adult and children’s fiction, fantasy and more—and whose work includes Newberry Medal winner The Graveyard Book, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys and The Sandman comics. He boasts more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

The book tells the story of Richard Mayhew, an office worker in London who, after helping a young woman lying injured on a sidewalk, has his existence completely erased. He is subsequently pulled into the haunting and fantastic world of “London Below,” populated by people and things that have “fallen through the cracks” of the world above. He undertakes an unbelievable journey full of unforgettable people, creatures and places, all the while hoping to return to “London Above” and to normalcy.

Daley pointed out that when he became Mayor, many libraries were housed in small, rented storefronts with limited book collections and no technology. Hours of operation were not consistent and there was no Sunday library service.

“But thanks to the efforts of many people working together, we have been able to create rich book collections in our more than 70 locations, hire and train professional staff for all libraries, add state of the art technology to all libraries and build and open 55 new or renovated libraries since 1989,” the Mayor said.

“Millions of Chicagoans who had poor or nonexistent library service in the past, now embrace their libraries as community anchors and places of lifelong learning,” he said.

Chicago Public Library librarians have created a resource guide for Neverwhere and will conduct book discussions across the city at neighborhood libraries. Thousands of Chicagoans are expected to participate in additional discussions, lectures, readings and events.

As a special feature of the programming, Neil Gaiman will participate in two free public events. On April 12, at 6:00 p.m., he will be joined by acclaimed Chicago author Audrey Niffenegger for a conversation on stage at the Harold Washington Library Center’s Cindy Pritzker Auditorium; on April 13 at 7:00 p.m., he will give a solo talk and reading at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago.

Additional events include:

• A discussion of modern fairy tales between authors Lydia Millet (How the Dead Dream) and Kate Bernheimer (editor of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, to which Gaiman was a contributor) on April 7 at Harold Washington Library Center;

• A full reading on April 11 of Lifeline Theatre’s stage adaptation of Neverwhere, which received rave reviews from critics as well as the author himself when it was produced here in May, 2010;

• An exploration of the possibility of parallel universes (such as London Above and London Below) with popular physicist Lawrence Krauss on April 20 at the Harold Washington Library Center;

• A Neverwhere-focused tour of Chicago’s Pedway with guide Margaret Hicks.