Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The Festival is Coming!

Humanities Tennessee reveals the author lineup for the thirtieth annual Southern Festival of Books

Celebrating its thirtieth annual event, Humanities Tennessee today released its lineup of award-winning, bestselling authors who will headline the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, October 12-14. The roster includes such notables as Rick Bragg, Ben Fountain, Craig Johnson, Tayari Jones, Lorrie Moore, Celeste Ng, Deborah Plant, Luis Alberto Urrea, The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, and Jacqueline Woodson.

The Southern Festival of Books is a free event that annually attracts 25,000 attendees, creating dialogue around new literature and cultural issues, and introducing readers of all ages to favorite authors and new writers, all of whom discuss and autographs their books at the festival. Invited authors include Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestsellers, and book-club favorites. Thanks to a diverse lineup of celebrated authors, the Southern Festival of Books has become one of the most popular literary events of the South.

Marquee appearances and events for the 2018 festival include

  • Rick Bragg, Pulitizer Prize-winning author of The Best Cook in the World: Tales From My Momma’s Table and the classic nonfiction works All Over but the Shoutin’ and The Prince of Frogtown.
  • New York Times-bestselling novelists Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere; B.A. Shapiro, author of The Collector’s Apprentice; and Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire mysteries (the inspiration behind the popular television show Longmire.
  • New nonfiction works from popular fiction authors Ben Fountain, whose Beautiful Country Burn Again: An Election, A Rebellion, and the Next American Revolution argues that the United States is experiencing its third major crisis point in today’s political atmosphere; renowned essayist and short story author Lorrie Moore, author most recently of See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary; and a moving memoir about abandonment and emotional survival by Glen David Gold (I Will Be Complete).
  • Deborah Plant, editor of New York Times bestseller Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (a posthumously published book by Zora Neale Hurston) will appear at the festival and discuss the 1930s story that remained unpublished until 2018.
  • New book-club favorites by Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) and Leesa Cross-Smith (Whiskey and Ribbons). Jones’s novel was recently named to Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club list for 2018 and Cross-Smith’s book was recognized as one of Oprah’s “Best Books of the Summer.”
  • Prominent YA authors Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming; Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series; National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles (a long line of cakes); and Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice and newly published children’s author of Turning Pages: My Life Story.
  • Acclaimed novelists Luis Alberto Urrea (The House of Broken Angels) and Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers).

For a full lineup of 2018 festival authors, click here.

In addition to author readings and talks, the festival also features three performance stages. A music stage will focus on the incredible talent of the Nashville music community. The performing-arts stage will offer theater, spoken-word, and poetry performances throughout the weekend. The children’s stage will feature authors, musicians, crafts, character costumes, and parties celebrating beloved children’s books.

In partnership with the Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt University, the festival will offer themed programming on “Democracy and the Informed Citizen.” The featured track will bring scholars from across Tennessee and the U.S. together to discuss democracy, voting, and the media—all in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

Watkins College of Art, one of the foremost art and design colleges in the nation, will again hold its Handmade & Bound Festival in conjunction with the Southern Festival of Books. Handmade & Bound celebrates independent publications and printed matter, featuring artists’ books, zines, mini-comics, and other book art, a mission which makes it a natural addition to the Southern Festival of Books. This year marks Watkins’ ninth annual Handmade & Bound Festival, which will offer craft sales, hands-on demonstrations, and a community project.

On October 12, Authors in the Round will seat authors among attendees for an evening of dining and conversation, creating a true one-of-a-kind experience. Authors in the Round is the festival’s annual fundraising dinner.

Parnassus Books will serve as the official onsite bookseller for authors appearing at the festival. More than sixty other publishers, booksellers, and nonprofit organizations will be represented in booths on Legislative Plaza.

The Southern Festival of Books is proudly sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Nashville Public Library, Ingram Content Group, The Memorial Foundation, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Middle Tennessee State University, Parnassus Books, and the Nashville Scene.