Ed note: TIO apologizes for the late publication of Ryan’s article: this was meant to go up yesterday.

On the night of April 23, this former town marshal will walk through the streets of the Shandoka apartment complex in search of – hesitant readers. John Wontrobski is a member of the board of trustees of the Wilkinson Public LIbrary. In this new role, he continues to serve the Telluride community, but this time with a book, not a pistol, at his hip. As a registered book giver on World Book Night, John plans to distribute free copies of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” to unsuspecting individuals.

World Book Night began in the U.K. and Ireland last year and is now expanding into the U.S.  “It really is a collaborative effort among publishers, book sellers, authors and libraries to get books into the hands of people who seldom read or don’t read at all,” explains Wontrobski.

Chosen to compliment UNESCO’s World Book Day, which honors the anniversary of the death of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, the date has special significance to those familiar with Spanish literature. Wontrobski honors this memory by distributing a Spanish translation of Junot Díaz’ novel.  “When I volunteered to be a giver, I noticed there was one title that was offered in both Spanish and English. Initially my goal was to cultivate a cross-language discussion of the book,” says Wontrobski.  The book in question explores the life and reflections of an overweight teenager from the Dominican Republic growing up in New Jersey. At its core, it is a story that captures the hardships and realities faced by those who fled during the repressive regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo in the 1950s.

Although John will be distributing the book in Spanish, the English version is available at the Wilkinson Public Library. Book clubs, in particular, are encouraged to add this title to their reading lists.  To further facilitate expanding relationships within our community, in June, the Wilkinson Public Library plans to show a film about the Dominican Republic,” In the Time of Butterflies.” Perhaps the screening will lead to the creation of an international book club.

To learn more about John Wontrobski’s involvement with World Book Night, listen to the podcast below.

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