NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley

Join the St. Croix Valley we read The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

The NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is a one book, one community program that brings together residents from throughout the St. Croix Valley in Minnesota and Wisconsin around a common book. ArtReach is pleased to announce the 2021 programming will include a variety of literary, visual and performing arts opportunities centered on themes found in The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang.

Programming and events for NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley 2021 will take place primarily in June. Read and Release books will be available in March.


About the author

Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American author, film-maker, and teacher; she is also a co-founder of ‘Words Wanted,’ a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. Her work is passionate and eloquent as she seeks to deepen the understanding of the human condition in order to garner more compassion in the world.

Kalia was born in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in 1980. She and her family came to Minnesota as refugees in the summer of 1987, and her first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, reflects upon this move. It is a first-hand account of the journey that many Hmong had to make from place to place in order to find ‘home.’ A review by Publishers Weekly praises Kalia, “Yang tells her family’s story with grace; she narrates their struggles, beautifully weaving in Hmong folklore and culture.” The Latehomecomer was the winner of two Minnesota Book Awards, a finalist for the PEN USA Award, earned a NEA Big Read title, and is the best selling book in Coffee House Press history. It is the first Hmong-authored book to gain national distribution from a literary press.


Read the book

The Latehomecomer is the 2021 NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley common book.

In March, numerous copies of The Latehomecomer and book club kits can be found in circulation at local libraries throughout the St. Croix Valley. In addition, ArtReach St. Croix will be distributing dozens of Read and Release copies of the book throughout the valley in Little Free Libraries, arts organization lobbies, coffee shops and other unexpected locations.

If you prefer to purchase your own copy of The Latehomecomer, our local independently-owned bookstores Valley Bookseller in Stillwater and Chapter 2 Books in Hudson are offering a 15% discount for those who would like their own copy.


NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

NEA Big Read is designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. ArtReach St. Croix is one of 84 organizations to receive a grand to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2020 and June 2021.

ArtReach St. Croix is presenting NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley in conjunction with core program partners Valley Bookseller, Stillwater Public Library, University of Minnesota Press, St. Croix Festival Theatre, UW River Falls, River Falls Public Library and library branches located in communities between St. Croix Falls, WI, and Hastings, MN.

See past years NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley book selections and programming samples.