You’re Invited! Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa

Event Logo incorporates a textile pattern in blue, orang, and cream along with the title "Across Africa" in script next to a silhouette of the continent.

Join us on Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm for this year’s gala fundraiser! Taking place at our East Columbia Branch, Evening in the Stacks features authentic cuisine, an African marketplace, an open bar, a DJ and dancing, and so much more. We will celebrate the continent of Africa – from the Mediterranean coast and the Nile in the north to the cities, grasslands, and deserts in Central Africa to the rainforests of the south.

Tickets at a new price are on sale now.

Black tie is optional for all guests and formal African attire is welcomed for those who are part of or identify with an African culture. Evening in the Stacks is a fun party that raises money for Library initiatives. This year, our goal is to raise $150,000 to benefit the creation of welcoming and inviting teen spaces in the Library’s six branches. 

We are also highlighting two spectacular authors, who are participating in a virtual author panel in conversation with Elsa M. on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 pm.

Young Black man dressed in dark blue pants and a grey sweater show seated in a park, leaning against a memorial black. He is bald and wears glasses.
Tope Folarin by Justin Gellerson

“I think the most important message in the novel is about Identity Construction,” says Tope Folarin discussing his debut book A Particular Kind of a Black Man. “All of us have that option in the 21st century. Tunde, the protagonist in my novel is forced to construct a persona because the persona he inherits from his father and society doesn’t match who he actually is.” (Simon & Schuster Books)  

Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known. 

Winner of the Whiting Award for Fiction, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American. 

Based in Washington D.C., Tope Folarin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Lannan Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Georgetown University. He also serves as a board member of the Avalon Theater in Washington DC, the Vice President of the Board of the Pen/Faulkner Foundation, and as a member of the President’s Council of Pathfinder. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Headshot of author against a grey background, where the author wears a vivid pattern in green and dark pink. She is looking off to the left.
NoViolet Bulawayo by NyeLynTho

Glory was inspired by the unexpected coup, in November 2017, of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president who took office in 1980 and never let go the reins of government. The rhythms and pace of the novel are enthralling and extraordinary, narrated by a chorus of animal voices. As the book begins, Old Horse stands in for Mugabe, with an entire host of donkeys, pigs, and other creatures forming the political court around him, each one wanting to maintain their own power at the expense of others. Inevitable echoes of George Orwell’s Animal Farm occur throughout Bulawayo’s novel, but the voice is purely her own. She gives us characters with names such as Marvellous and Destiny, and allows us to (re)discover the delight of breathtaking political satire.

A review in The Guardian explains, “even the stylistic use of the refrain “Tholukuthi”, meaning “only to discover” (as in, “you thought you were getting a novel as good as We Need New Names, tholukuthi Bulawayo’s second is even more dazzling”), nods to a social media moment. Around the time of the Zimbabwe coup, the song Tholukuthi Hey! was released, and once it went viral, the refrain became a meme. “Tholukuthi” serves both as incantation and a form of punctuation in a novel that will appeal across generations.”

NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of two novels, including the most recently published Glory and the PEN/Hemingway (among others) award-winning We Need New Names. Her first book was also shortlisted for the International Literature Award, the Man Booker Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University and has taught fiction writing at Cornell and Stanford Universities. She grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and is currently writing full-time from the wherevers.

Raffle Tickets & Flower Baskets

Faded image of Glenwodd Branch's teen area with text overlayed, "2022 Spring Fundraiser! Glorious flower baskets, branch raffles featuring amazing local prizes, chances to win tickets to Evening in the Stacks or a Microsoft tablet, a wine pull - all to benefit Teen Spaces at every HCLS branch!"

by Mickey Gomez, President, Friends & Foundation of HCLS

Spring is here, and that means it’s time for Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System’s Second Annual Spring Fundraiser!

This year, with HCLS’s much anticipated gala event Evening in the Stacks moving to May, we’ve bundled our fundraising efforts together in a single online location.

Our gorgeous flower baskets are back, and already in high demand! Last year they sold out, so if you’d enjoy welcoming May with a 12” hanging basket of cheerful sun-loving flowers while supporting your favorite library system, you’ll want to act fast! Baskets will be available for pickup May 4th, 5th, and 7th at the Miller Branch.

This year’s raffle includes six unique gift baskets individually curated by each HCLS branch, featuring a remarkable array of local gift cards to restaurants, stores, shops, and markets, tickets to local events, tours, and museums, unique collectables, and more! The baskets range in value from $500 to $1,000, and you’ll definitely want to check them all out before deciding which to try for – or you can try for them all!

We’ll also have drawings for two tickets to Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa along with our Grand Prize: a Microsoft Surface Go 3 tablet.

And for our wine connoisseurs, we’re once again offering a Wine Pull available exclusively at Evening in the Stacks. Your ticket will get you a randomly selected bottle of fabulous wine, each valued at an estimated $20+.

All proceeds this year go to support teen spaces, safe and welcoming locations in each HCLS branch that allow teens to gather without paying for a membership or having to buy something. They’ll have access to interest-driven learning along with resources promoting empowerment, mental wellness, digital and tech fluency, and more!

You can also donate directly to support STEM tools for teens who have expressed an interest in engaging with coding or digital media creation such as 3D modeling, music-making, graphic design, video production, and social and educational gaming – all in a fun, inclusive, and positive environment.

I could not be any more excited about any of this, which is saying a lot considering how much I love our local library system. On behalf of Friends & Foundation of HCLS, we hope you’ll join in the fun while supporting Teen Spaces and HCLS. Thank you!

#FriendsMakeItHappen

Evening in the Stacks: Serata Virtuale

Logo for Evening in the Stacks with an outline of Italy and scripted font that reads Serata Virtuale

by Kristen B.

I love to travel (the past year has been rough, folks). I will go just about anywhere and enjoy a new location, different foods, and all the sights there are to see. Ask me for my list of favorites, and inevitably Florence, Italy will be in the top three. It’s a small, lovely, walkable city stuffed full of Renaissance art and history and overflowing with delicious food. What’s not to love? I am extremely excited to have Italy as the theme for our annual fundraiser.

This year’s Evening in the Stacks on February 27, while virtual, is going to be the party not to miss with three great authors presenting. A tour company based in Tuscany offers an online mini-vacation with truffle hunting, a pasta-making demonstration, and a virtual wine tasting. You can enjoy a taste of Italy with a delivered meal from a local caterer. Explore our various price points for meals, wine, swag, and books! Hope to see you at our Serata Virtuale!

The orange "day by day" cover features photos of Florence, Siena, and the Tuscan countryside along with a partial map of the city of Florence.

I don’t like to plan trips in too much detail because sometimes you miss serendipitous occasions and lucky finds. Leaving a day to wander where the mood strikes always ends up as my favorite day of any vacation. You do need some clues about where to start, and Frommer’s travel guides can set your feet on good paths no matter where you go. Pauline Frommer is one of the three authors attending Evening in the Stacks! She is the co-president of Frommer Media LLC with her father, Arthur Frommer, founder of the Frommer’s guidebooks and Frommers.com. Pauline is also an award-winning writer and editor, and has authored six best-selling travel guides, as well as countless magazine and web articles.

Two sisters walk hand-in-hand through a field with mountains in the background and a blue sky above. Line illustrations of olives decorate the corners.

If you can’t travel in person, you can still read books that transport you to someplace new. If you want to travel to Calabria, Italy (back in time, too), you can dive into The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. Juliet will also be joining the party this year! Her novel draws heavily from her family’s experiences. Beginning just before World War I, the book details the overwhelming poverty of the mountainous region of Calabria, but the people shine despite their circumstances. I chuckled at some of the scenes of church and family, while being taken aback at the casual brutality of women’s lives in the early twentieth century. Stella Fortuna (which means lucky star) survives many mishaps (7 or 8 of them depending how you count) to have a sprawling, riotous family in Connecticut. It’s a story of the joys and heartaches of family, and it offers an honest look at Italian immigration experiences. Stella and her sister Concetta are strong, vital women who ruled and loved their family fiercely.

Another strong Italian-American woman, Chi Chi Donatelli is the main character of Tony’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Adriana is also coming to Evening in the Stacks! Cheech, as her family and friends call her, was born and raised on the Jersey Shore. She wants more than the expected life, continuing all the local traditions. Chi Chi can sing, and she dreams of fronting a big band while traveling the country. Tony Arma, stage name for Saverio Armandonada, lives the dream after leaving his job at a Detroit auto plant. They meet via mutual friends (or maybe it was cousins) at a wedding and again later when Chi Chi goes up to the big city to audition for a singer/songwriter position with the band Tony fronts. As it turns out, they are better friends than (eventually) spouses – sometimes dreams change and sometimes they don’t. Chi Chi Donatelli is my kind of gal, though – strong, ambitious, and no-nonsense, but with a huge heart. Personally, I think that Chi Chi and Stella Fortuna could have been friends. Both women wanted more from life than what their gender prescribed for them.

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS and to be part of the team planning Evening in the Stacks. She likes to spend winter reading, baking, and waiting for baseball to return.