- By Joe Gross American-Statesman Staff
Welcome to the 22st annual Texas Book Festival.
Since 1996, the literary shindig has highlighted authors from across the state, the country and ultimately the world — inside and in the shadow of the Texas Capitol.
Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors previously announced for the 21st Texas Book Festival, which takes place Nov. 4 -5 at the Capitol and surrounding grounds.
Along with author talks and signings, the fest features panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, live music and activities for kids (more about on Page 8).
Of particular interest to Texans are former Harper’s editor Roger D. Hodge’s “Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands,” his part-reported, part-memoir look at several generations (seven, in fact) of his family’s ranch (see our preview on Page 3 of this section); and the poetry of Texas State professor Tomás Q. Morín, author of the collection “Patient Zero.”
Screenwriter, director, producer, actor and “Bosom Buddy” Tom Hanks will be at the festival to present his new collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type.” He will discuss his stories with best-selling author Lawrence Wright (“The Looming Tower”) Nov. 4 at the First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St.
Unlike most other book fest events, this one is not free. Tickets are on sale for $48 at www.texasbookfestival.org. Each ticket includes one pre-signed copy of the book and admits one person to the event. A portion of ticket sales supports the Texas Book Festival’s literacy programs.
New York Times best-selling author Walter Isaacson, author Min Jin Lee, writer/producer Attica Locke, and New Yorker poetry editor Kevin Young (all attending the festival) are all featured guests for the annual First Edition Literary Gala, the main annual fundraiser for the festival, will be Nov. 3 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Texas Monthly Executive Editor Skip Hollandsworth will emcee this year’s gala, proceeds from which help support the Reading Rock Stars Literacy Program, which provides author visits and book donations to children in low-income schools, and Texas Library Grants.
Lee is the award-winning author of “Pachinko,” the epic saga of a Korean family told across four generations and much of the 20th century.
Isaacson is president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of Time magazine. He is also the best-selling author of “Steve Jobs,” “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.” His most recent biography is that of “Leonardo da Vinci.”
Houston native Attica Locke is the author of “Pleasantville,” which won the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, and was a writer and producer on the Fox TV drama “Empire.” Her new thriller, “Bluebird, Bluebird,” takes place in East Texas.
In addition to being the New Yorker poetry editor, Young is the author of 11 books of poetry and prose, most recently “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” long-listed for the National Book Award. His latest nonfiction book is “Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.”
Hollandsworth is the author of the excellent “The Midnight Assassin,” about the hunt for America’s first serial killer in 19th century Austin. He also wrote the film “Bernie” with Richard Linklater.
For hardcore BookFest fans, the Festival Friends Pass is available for donations of at least $100. Friends Pass holders (plus one guest) get priority seating and spots in the signing line at select sessions and signings during the festival.
This year’s Festival Friends Pass authors are Jeffrey Eugenides and Claire Messud; Jennifer Egan, Nicole Krauss; Mark Bittman; Gail Simmons, Night Vale, Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis; Walter Isaacson; Lemony Snicket; Mac Barnett; the book club panel with Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Rumaan Alam and Amita Trasi; Gretchen Carlson; Cristina Baker Kline; and Katherine Paterson and Peter Sis.
In its 22 years, the festival has contributed nearly $3 million to nearly 641 Texas public libraries.
Starting this year, independent bookstore BookPeople is the official and main bookseller for the Texas Book Festival, a role that was previously held by Barnes and Noble.
Additionally, for the first time ever, people who cannot attend the festival will be able to pre-order signed copies of select books and pick them up at BookPeople after the fest or have them shipped anywhere in the world.
There will also be book sales at designated indoor venues, including First Baptist Church, the Omni Hotel, First United Methodist Church and Central Presbyterian Church. A percentage of book sales will go back to the fest to support its mission and programs.
For the seventh year, Texas Book Festival joins the San Francisco-based Litquake to present the literary bar crawl known as LitCrawl Austin, which will take place mostly at venues on East Cesar Chavez Street starting at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.
This year’s LitCrawl includes the return of Literary Death Match (a game-show-style read-off) with judges Dan Chaon (“Ill Will”), Maya Perez and Elena Pasarello; a pun-off sponsored by the O. Henry Museum; Amanda Johnston and Mahogany Browne leading a live poetic demonstration that rallies poets and allies together to speak out against police violence; and a “Noir at the Bar” event at Weather Up. The full LitCrawl schedule is on the fest website.