Southern Festival of Books Announces Virtual Event



Free Online Event Featuring 100+ Authors – October 1-11, 2020

The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word announced that its 32nd annual event will take place October 1-11, 2020 online and free-of-charge. Humanities Tennessee, the organizer of the state’s largest literary event, will transition the three-day festival to virtual access for the health and safety of attendees, authors, volunteers, and partners, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will miss being at the beautiful Nashville Public Library and on War Memorial Plaza, with all of the buzz and energy that the Festival weekend brings. But the important traditions will carry on in new and exciting ways; the opportunity to hear writers read from and discuss their works, and the chance to engage in ideas and discourse that are vital today. Writers will join us from around the country, and we will also share some sites and literary history from Tennessee,” said Serenity Gerbman, Literature and Language Program Director for Humanities Tennessee.

“We are energized by the chance to reach audiences of all types who aren’t able to visit Nashville in person but who will be able to join the Festival from anywhere in the world. The celebration of the written word will continue, and we hope you will join us Oct. 1-11.”

Authors confirmed for this year’s virtual Festival include:

  • MICHAEL IAN BLACK is an actor, comedian, and writer who started his career with the sketch comedy show The State, on MTV, and has created and starred in many other television shows. Movie appearances include Wet Hot American SummerThe Baxter, and Sextuplets. Black is the author of several books for children, including the award-winning I’m BoredI’m Sad, and I’m Worried, and the parody A Child’s First Book of Trump.  His podcasts include Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Tom Cavanagh; Topics, with Michael Showalter; How to Be Amazing; and ObscureA Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son

  • NIKKY FINNEY is the author of five books of poetry, including Head Off & Split (Northwestern University Press, 2011), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. She is the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. Finney has received the Art for Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and currently serves as an ambassador for the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Project. Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts

  • JOE HILL is an American author and comic book writer. He has published three novels—Heart-Shaped BoxHorns and NOS4A2—and a collection of short stories titled 20th Century Ghosts. He is also the author of the comic book series Locke & Key. Hill’s parents are authors Stephen and Tabitha King.

  • ERIK LARSON is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, which hit no. 1 on the Times list soon after launch, and his newest book, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. The latter is in large part a domestic drama that examines how Winston Churchill and his “Secret Circle” really went about surviving the German air campaign of 1940-41. Erik’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks, for a feature film. Erik lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.

  • ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction–Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What Now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, Lambslide, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

  • NATASHA TRETHEWEY served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of four collections of poetry, Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—and Thrall, (2012). In 2010 she published a book of non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.

The full roster of more than 100 authors, including youth programming, will be announced in July during an online reveal event to include special guest appearances, a preview of this year’s virtual Festival, and creative collaborations with partner organizations including Ingram Content Group.

“Now more than ever we need to find ways to connect with each other and foster community.  Ingram Content Group proudly supports Humanities Tennessee and its decision to virtually host the Southern Festival of Books this fall.  The free programming offered during the festival and throughout the year is vital to the region as it prompts us to reflect upon stories and ideas of all kinds,” said Shawn Morin, Ingram’s president and chief executive officer.

By necessity, the Festival’s annual ‘Authors In The Round’ fundraising dinner will also transition to a virtual format with details forthcoming.

“We look forward to all we will learn presenting this year’s Festival online, so that when we return in 2021 with the Festival and “Authors In The Round” dinner in person, both events will be energized to celebrate community, literature, and learning as never before,” said Tim Henderson, Executive Director, Humanities Tennessee.

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