The mission of the Boston Book Festival is to celebrate the power of words, to promote a culture of literature and ideas, and to enhance the vibrancy of the city of Boston, and in 2010 we launched One City One Story to do just that. One City One Story is the BBF’s version of an all-city read, but instead of a book, we print and distribute a short story. Our goal is to make a short story available to all, free of charge, to spread the joy of reading for pleasure among the teens and adults of our city, and to create a community around a shared reading experience.
In 2010, One City One Story’s inaugural year, we distributed thousands of free copies of Tom Perrotta’s story, “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face,” offered online translations and downloads, and led citywide discussions leading up to a town-hall style discussion with the author at the Boston Book Festival, hosted by Alicia Anstead, editor in chief of the Harvard Arts Blog and Inside Arts magazine. The next year, we held library discussions of the 2011 selection, Richard Russo’s “The Whore’s Child,” distributed the story throughout the city, offered the story in four different languages, and held a writing contest for the public. In 2012, we held an online reading group for the first time, in addition to library discussions, and a special discussion with Anna Solomon. Additionally, we offered a printed version in Spanish for the first time and provided the story in four different languages electronically.
2020, of course, was a year unlike any other. Despite the challenges, we were able to continue with virtual One City One Story programming and still brought that year’s story, Grace Talusan’s “The Book of Life and Death,” to thousands of readers. You can watch the recording of our 2020 One City One Story discussion here.
Previous 1C1S Selections:
2020: “The Book of Life and Death” by Grace Talusan
2019: “Yvonne” by Ciera Burch
2018: Program on hiatus
2017: “Relativity” by Daphne Kalotay
2016: “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link
2015: “Home Movie” by Jennifer De Leon
2014: “Sublimation” by Jennifer Haigh
2013: “Karma” by Rishi Reddi
2012: “The Lobster Mafia Story” by Anna Solomon
2011: “The Whore’s Child” by Richard Russo
2010: “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face” by Tom Perrotta