The Texas Book Festival will once again be giving readers plenty of good reasons to make the trip to Austin next month. Say, 300 of them.
That’s how many authors are scheduled to attend, meaning the festival’s 20th year will be its largest, organizers say. The free event takes place Oct. 17 and 18.
The list is again deep with nationally known and up-and-coming fiction writers: Jami Attenberg (Saint Mazie), Sloane Crosley (The Clasp), Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies), Austin Grossman (Crooked), Jonathan Lethem (Lucky Alan and Other Stories), Attica Locke (Pleasantville) and Lily Tuck (The Double Life of Liliane).
In nonfiction, both sides of the political aisle will be represented, with former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart (The Republic of Conscience) and George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff, John Sununu (The Quiet Man).
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National Public Radio listeners will get a double dose of hosts, with Scott Simon (Unforgettable) and Steve Inskeep (Jacksonland). Music fans can meet the “dean of American rock critics,” Robert Christgau (Going Into the City), or Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson (Comin’ Right at Ya).
The multifaceted Luis Alberto Urrea will discuss his story collection, The Water Museum. Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will discuss his novel Grant Park. And fans of book critics — I know you’re out there — can meet Dallas Morning News contributor John Freeman (Freeman’s: The Best New Writing on Arrival) and the Los Angeles Times’ David L. Ulin (Sidewalking: Coming to Terms With Los Angeles).
Children’s and young-adult notables include Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Kevin Henkes (Waiting), Stephan Pastis (the “Timmy Failure” series), Marie Lu (The Young Elites) Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel (Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My … ) and Rebecca Stead (Goodbye Stranger). Actor Taye Diggs will be there with Mixed Me! Chocolate Me! illustrator Shane W. Evans.
Headliners announced earlier included Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Sandra Cisneros and Elizabeth Strout, plus The Wire’s Wendell Pierce and Dallas star Linda Gray.
The festival typically draws 40,000 people over two days.
“Everything keeps getting bigger,” said literary director Steph Opitz, talking about the ever-expanding number of authors and events. She noted that LitCrawl, which stages events in bars and other fun sites, will add more venues. Kayaking and biking with authors will return, as will the Literary Death Match and “the always-popular Sexist Bingo.”
Writers with Texas roots, as always, will be in abundance. Among them: Gary Cartwright (The Best I Recall), Jill Alexander Essbaum (Hausfrau), Jeff Guinn (Buffalo Trail), Sarah Hepola (Blackout), Harry Hunsicker (The Grid), Polly Holyoke (The Neptune Challenge), Mat Johnson (Loving Day), Jacqueline Kelly (The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate), Debra Monroe (My Unsentimental Education), Stephen L. Moore (Texas Rising), Keija Parssinen (The Unraveling of Mercy Louis), Mary Helen Specht (Migratory Animals) and Amanda Eyre Ward (The Same Sky).
The Texas Book Festival
▪ Oct. 17-18
▪ On the grounds of the Texas Capitol in Austin
▪ For a full list of venues and details about the Oct. 16 First Edition Literary Gala, go to www.texasbookfestival.org.