Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Humanities Tennessee Announces Lineup for the 34th Annual Southern Festival of Books

Literary gathering returns to downtown Nashville

UPDATE: A current list of all participating authors can be found here. For all Chapter16‘s festival coverage, go here


Humanities Tennessee today announced the initial lineup of award-winning, bestselling authors who will headline the 34th Annual Southern Festival of Books, taking place at War Memorial Plaza and the Nashville Public Library’s main branch on October 14-16.

The festival will feature appearances by more than 200 authors, offering attendees the opportunity to connect with their favorite writers through a series of live events, panels, book signings and more. The roster includes Joshua Cohen, Rick Bragg, Tayari Jones, Andrew Sean Greer, Julie Otsuka, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Margo Price, Patrick Radden Keefe, Diane Kruger, and Andrew Young, among others.

Laura Baisden / Camp Nevernice

“We are thrilled and honored to welcome so many esteemed and talented writers to the 34th annual Southern Festival of Books,” said Tim Henderson, Humanities Tennessee executive director. “This year’s festival was already shaping up to be a memorable event, as we gather together in person for the first time in three years, but to have so many brilliant authors joining us makes it even more special. Our entire team is eagerly anticipating what we believe will be our best festival yet.”

Marquee appearances and events for the 2022 Southern Festival of Books will include:

JOSHUA COHEN (The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family): Cohen’s most recent novel is the winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the winner of the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and was named one of the year’s best books by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Kirkus, The A.V. Club, and The Telegraph, among others.

RICK BRAGG (The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People): Bragg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author, known for his musings on Southern life. He is the author of 12 books, including The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, All Over but the Shoutin’ and The Prince of Frogtown.

TAYARI JONES (Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings by Randall Kenan): Jones is a 2021 Guggenheim fellow, a New York Times bestselling author, and the winner of the Orange Prize, Aspen Words Prize and an NAACP Image Award. Her 2018 novel An American Marriage was an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and appeared on President Obama’s summer reading list. She wrote the introduction for Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings by Randall Kenan, which will be released on August 9, 2022.

ANDREW SEAN GREER (Less is Lost: A Novel): Greer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling novelist. His forthcoming novel, Less is Lost: A Novel, is a follow-up to Less, which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Less is Lost: A Novel will be released on Sept. 20, 2022.

MARGO PRICE (Maybe We’ll Make It: A Memoir): Grammy-nominated country music artist and producer Price will make her literary debut on Oct. 4, 2022, with the release of Maybe We’ll Make It: A Memoir, a story “of loss, motherhood, and the search for artistic freedom.”

JULIE OTSUKA (The Swimmers: A Novel): A recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature winner, Otsuka is the bestselling author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine.

DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ (Take My Hand: A Novel): Perkins-Valdez is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time NAACP Image Awards finalist, and a DC Commission on the Arts Grant recipient. Inspired by true events, her newly released novel Take My Hand is about “a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients.”

DIANE KRUGER (A Name from the Sky): Kruger’s acting career has spanned more than two decades in film and television, earning her a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress in 2017. The German actress and mother makes her literary debut on October 25, 2022, with the autobiographical children’s book, A Name from the Sky.

ANDREW YOUNG (The Many Lives of Andrew Young): A politician, diplomat, activist and philanthropist, Young was a Civil Rights leader, the first Black congressman from Georgia, a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the mayor of Atlanta, the co-chair of the 1996 Olympics Summer Games, the co-founder of Good Works International and the co-founder of the Andrew Young Foundation. This new biography from acclaimed Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs examines Young’s illustrious and dynamic career.

PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE (Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks): Bestselling author and award-winning journalist Keefe’s new book, Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks, is a collection of 12 New Yorker articles about criminals and con artists.

The themed track in partnership with the Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt is “Mending and Transforming” and will include GAL BECKERMAN, author of The Quiet Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas and senior editor for books at The Atlantic.

The Southern Festival of Books will partner once again with Southern Foodways Alliance for a panel on food and culture with the winner of the John Egerton Prize, which is to be announced.

For a full lineup of festival authors, click here. Additional authors and other special announcements will be added to the list every Friday.

In addition to 75 sessions over 3 days, the festival will also include food trucks, 60 vendors, and 3 performance stages. A music stage will focus on the incredible talent of the Nashville music community, and the performing arts stage will offer theater, spoken word, and poetry throughout the weekend. The festival children’s stage and activity center, presented in partnership with Turnip Green Creative Reuse, will feature authors, musicians, performers, crafts, character costumes, and parties celebrating beloved children’s books.

The festival will welcome authors from a wide variety of genres including fiction and nonfiction, young adult literature, poetry, science fiction, and mystery. Featured festival books will be available for purchase and can be signed by authors during the event. Parnassus Books is the festival bookseller.

For a regularly updated list of all authors, please visit Humanities Tennessee. To learn more about the Southern Festival of Books and to stay updated on festival announcements, please follow us on Twitter (@SoFestofBooks), Facebook (@SoFestofBooks) and Instagram (@sofestofbooks).


The Southern Festival of Books is presented by Humanities Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that promotes humanities education across Tennessee. The festival is proudly sponsored by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Ingram Content Group, Vanderbilt University, Parnassus Books and the Nashville Scene.


Humanities Tennessee is a nonprofit organization that fosters community and civility in Tennessee through engaging programs that examine and reflect upon ideas, stories, history, arts and culture. In addition to our own programming, we partner with a variety of organizations across the state who are similarly encouraging community dialogue and activities that push us to think deeper and develop mutual respect and understanding for each other.

*Art by Laura Baisden / Camp Nevernice

Humanities Tennessee Announces Lineup for the 34th Annual Southern Festival of Books

The Southern Festival of Books is presented by Humanities Tennessee, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Founded in 1973, we continue to develop ways to connect, learn, and grow as a community.