Wednesday July 10, 2013 | 11:39 AM
Posted by In the City

Portland's a city small enough that most people get to know their neighbors. But not everyone decides to write a book about those who live nearby.

That's exactly what the "I'm Your Neighbor, Portland" city-wide reading series is promoting - book characters and subjects that have made Maine their home and made Portland a multiracial and multicultural city.

The latest in the nine-book series in Terry Farish's "The Good Braider," which will be celebrated Thursday at Rines Auditorium in Portland Public Library's Monument Square location at 6 p.m. The event will highlight the award-winning novel, which follows Sudanese main character Viola's dreams of the strange world of America - where girls can wear short skirts and get tattoos - which differs so vastly from the traditional world her mother grew up in.

"I approached the work as documentarian, spending a lot of time with families and learning how they spent their days, about their art, the work of their hands, the music they love, the stories they  tell," Farish said. "However, I used this research method to create a novel. 'The Good Braider' is fiction and based on research and dozens of stories I recorded."

A young actress originally from East Africa will read aloud from "The Good Braider," Farish will talk about the novel and sign books, and South Sudanese rapper OD Bonny will perform songs from his new CD. Also expect East African refreshments from Asmara Restaurant at the free event.

 Upcoming "I'm Your Neighbor" events include:

July 24, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: "Bread Song: Cross Cultural Friendships in Maine"

Aug. 2, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.: Ramadan Mubarak: A Holiday celebration and Education for Families of All Faiths

Aug. 8, 10:30 a.m. to noon: "A Path of Stars: A Celebration of Cambodians in Maine"

The "I'm Your Neighbor, Portland" collection of books is located near the Circulation Desk at the Portland Public Library's Main Branch. Readers can check out the books and attend events throughout the year to discuss and experience cultural elements from the books. A grant from the Maine Humanities Council funded the book purchase for The Portland Public Library and the featured events.

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Karen Beaudoin is an online editor for Maine Today Media and contributes two blogs to the company's websites.

In the City tells readers what to know if they want to know Portland. Pedal On offers info, events and advice for people who love their bikes more than, well ... almost anything.

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