Bill Bryson, Ayana Mathis, Chuck Palahniuk Among Lineup for 2013 Southern Festival of Books


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It's clear now that the best-yet lineup for last year's Southern Festival of Books wasn't a fluke. Humanities Tennessee just released a list of guests for the festival's gala 25th anniversary, taking place Oct. 11-13 at War Memorial Plaza, and the roster will make Nashville a destination this fall for hardcore readers.

Country Life is particularly excited about visits from Andrew Solomon, whose Far from the Tree seems destined to become a benchmark work on nurture vs. nature and the differences between parents and their offspring, and from Banshee creator Jonathan Tropper, whose shiva farce This Is Where I Leave You remains one of the funniest novels we've read in recent years. The festival also scored a coup in getting Ayana Mathis, whose acclaimed bestseller The Twelve Tribes of Hattie launched Oprah's Book Club 2.0.

While the festival's breadth is suggested by Fight Club cult hero Chuck Palahniuk and A Walk in the Woods author Bill Bryson, it's the space in between that contains some finds local book lovers should seek out: Helene Wecker, whose The Golem and the Jinni was flagged early on as one of the summer's best novels; Teddy Wayne, who delivers a tour de force reckoning of the inside of a Justin Bieber-like popster's head in The Love Song of Teddy Valentine; Kevin Henkes, creator of the beloved Lilly books for children (and at least one misty-eyed adult).

Another treat: the reunion of seven revered authors from the very first festival — Roy Blount, Jr., Allan Gurganus, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jill McCorkle (whose new retirement-home novel Life After Life is a heartbreaker), Cathie Pelletier, Lee Smith and Alana White.

As always, local authors are represented in force, from F. Lynne Bachleda (From the Ground Up: Mystical Places of Memory and the Near Eternal) to poet Rick Hilles (A Map of the Lost World). The list of authors so far can be found here.

Kudos to Humanities Tennessee, along with a reminder to watch its excellent site for regular festival previews, interviews and updates all the way to the actual event. Below, the festival press release, studded with familiar names (and others that soon will be).

Southern Festival of Books Announces 2013 Author Lineup for the 25th Annual Event
Festival brings bestselling authors along with regional and local favorites to Nashville Oct. 11-13

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word announces a lineup of bestselling and award-winning authors set to headline the 25th annual Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Oct. 11-13. The roster includes Bill Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927), Karen Joy Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves), Kevin Henkes (The Year of Billy Miller), Ayana Mathis (The Twelve Tribes of Hattie), Jon Meacham, (Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power), Chuck Palahniuk (Doomed), Alan Weisman (Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?) and Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings).

The Festival also welcomes Southern favorites such as Ron Rash, (Nothing Gold Can Stay), Lee Smith (Guests on Earth) and Clyde Edgerton (Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers). As a nod to the festival’s noteworthy anniversary, seven authors that participated in the first Southern Festival of Books in 1989 will return for the 2013 festival.

The Southern Festival of Books is a free, three-day celebration of the written word that annually attracts about 20,000 attendees to meet their favorite authors, as well as experience the weekend’s abundance of books, food, entertainment and culture. The festival is a fixture of fall in the South and has become one of the most popular literary events in the country.

The Southern Festival of Books is held at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville and at the Nashville Public Library. Each year, the Festival features a diverse collection of authors to discuss and sign their books.

Additional highlights of the 2013 Festival roster include:

● Seven authors from the first Southern Festival of Books returning for the 25th anniversary festival: Roy Blount, Jr., Allan Gurganus (Local Souls), Bobbie Ann Mason (The Girl in the Blue Beret), Jill McCorkle (Life After Life), Cathie Pelletier (The One-Way Bridge), Lee Smith (Guests on Earth) and Alana White (The Sign of the Weeping Virgin).

● Children’s authors, husband/wife duo Philip Stead (Hello My Name is Ruby) and Erin Stead (If You Want to See a Whale), best known for their 2011 Caldecott Medal book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee.

● Renowned young adult authors Kevin Henkes (The Year of Billy Miller) of Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse fame and Daniel Kirk (Library Mouse: Home Sweet Home).

● Numerous bestselling authors including Ace Atkins (Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland), William Landay (Defending Jacob), Andrew Solomon (Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity) and Jonathan Tropper (One Last Thing Before I Go: A Novel).

● Cookbook author, TV host, and chair of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Nathalie Dupree (Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking).

● Chuck Palahnuik (Doomed), author of award-winning novel Fight Club, which was made into a popular feature film.

● Literary debut authors Suzanne Rindell with her 1920s-set thriller The Other Typist, a buzz book that will be turned into a movie starring Keira Knightley, and Ayana Mathis (The Twelve Tribes of Hattie) whose books was chosen as the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

● Summer blockbuster authors Anton DiSclanfani (The Yohnalassee Riding Camp for Girls), Therese Ann Fowler (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald), Amity Gaige (Schroder), Elliot Holt (You Are One of Them) Helene Wecker (The Golem and the Jinni) and Teddy Wayne (The Love Song of Jonny Valentine).

● Prizewinning author Ron Rash with his latest book, Nothing Gold Can Stay, attending the festival just a few weeks following his bestselling novel Serena’s movie debut starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

The full Festival lineup and more information about each author can be found online at

The Southern Festival of Books is presented by Humanities Tennessee, a non-profit organization that promotes humanities education across Tennessee. The Festival is proudly sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Ingram Content Group, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Nashville Scene, AWC Family Foundation, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Predators Foundation, Parnassus Books of Nashville, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Memorial Foundation, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Humanities Tennessee and the Southern Festival of Books are on the Web at Join the festival on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SoFestBooks.


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