by Caroleen Burroughs
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation board member
Recently, I attended my first Carnegie Circle Donor Event, and I must say, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As an avid reader and book lover, I was excited to attend, but I wasn’t familiar with the format or what the event would entail. However, I quickly found myself at ease as I mingled with other book enthusiasts in the room.
The event was an opportunity to meet and listen to NoViolet Bulawayo, the most translated author in modern Zimbabwean history. As we settled in for the evening, NoViolet shared the intimate story of how she chose her pen name. Violet was her mother’s name, and No means “with,” so she chose the name NoViolet to honor her mother’s memory. I found this to be a touching tribute and a testament to the power of storytelling to connect us to our loved ones.
As NoViolet and our moderator, Alan Michael Parker, sat in two comfy chairs centered in the Wells Fargo Playhouse at ImaginOn, they engaged in a witty conversation that was both entertaining and enlightening. What struck me most about the interaction between NoViolet and Alan was how comfortable they were with each other. They laughed, joked, and answered questions from other guests as if they were old friends. I felt like I was sitting in the living room with my two most interesting author friends. That’s what good storytelling looks like — you become engrossed in the conversation and forget where you are.
As the presentation drew to a close, I had the opportunity to ask one final question. Did NoViolet really eat guavas and do they make her poopy sick (my words!)? This was in reference to her first novel, We Need New Names, where there were many scenes with the children stealing and eating guavas. Later at the book signing, NoViolet told me that guavas are delicious and that I should try them. She said as long as I didn’t eat too many, I shouldn’t get sick. It was a humorous moment that highlighted the personal connection you can experience with the authors at these intimate library events.
The Library Foundation staff did an amazing job from start to finish. They even had animal-shaped cookies in reference to the animal personification in Glory. I ate my pig (cookie) on the spot and took home a horse and dog to enjoy later. It was clear that they had thought about every detail to make the event a memorable one.
In conclusion, I had a fantastic time at the Carnegie Circle Donor Event. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet NoViolet Bulawayo, hear her stories, and learn about her writing process. The event was well-organized, and the Library Foundation staff did an excellent job. It was a night that I will always remember, and I look forward to attending more events like this in the future.