NACOGDOCHES, Texas –– Stephen F. Austin State University’s Stone Fort Museum will host the Interior East Texas event to kick off the Nacogdoches Public Library’s Big Read program. The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 20 at the museum on SFA’s campus.

The Big Read is designed to broaden an understanding of the world, communities and oneself through a collectively read book. The shared reading experience, lectures, classes and immersive events bring the community together in conversation and enjoyment. The program’s goal is to inspire conversation and discovery within communities and revitalize the role of reading in American culture.

This year’s Big Read book will feature Charles Yu’s novel, “Interior Chinatown,” which examines themes of race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation and escaping the roles citizens are forced to play.

According to Yu’s website, the book plays with Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes as the book’s protagonist, Willis Wu, discovers not only the secret history of Chinatown but the buried legacy of his own family.

During the Nacogdoches Big Read kickoff event, attendees will explore the book’s themes surrounding stereotypes through local connections, like specific perceptions many may have of East Texas residents. Because people are multifaceted beings, stereotypes can reduce a person within a group from a complex individual to a one-dimensional character, according to Carolyn Spears, Stone Fort Museum director.

“At the event, attendees will share the dilemma that Willis Wu faces in the novel: frustration with the roles he is assigned to play as “Generic Asian Man’ even as he dreams of filling the role of ‘Kung Fu Guy,’” Spears said. “Those attending will be able to embrace the stereotypes assigned to East Texans while they celebrate their individuality with a poster portrait.”

Attendees also will explore as much “real Texas” as they desire while embracing their “bigger-than-Texas” story, she added. They will have the opportunity to design a collage examining their own identity during a poster portrait session.

The event also will have Texas-inspired food, games and live music.

The Interior East Texas event is free and will be held inside the museum and on the north lawn. For more information or to volunteer, contact


Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at