2019 Festival Lineup Sneak Peek

As Literary Director of the Texas Book Festival, I have the wonderful job of confirming all of the authors for the big Festival Weekend. I’m thrilled to share with you a sneak peek of this year’s lineup. Below are fifteen of the 250+ authors who will join us in Austin on October 26-27 for the 24th annual Texas Book Festival. We’re thrilled these writers can join us and cannot wait to share the full lineup with you at the end of August!

John Hodgman – Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms
I’m a big fan of comedy: stand-up, sketch, even improv, and always love when comedians write books and we get to bring them to Texas. The last time I saw John Hodgman, he made me hold his coffee while he played the ukulele for several hundred fans. This time? Who knows! His latest book, Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms, is a humorous meditation on what it means to be in the public spotlight to the degree that Hodgman has been: as a star of The Daily Show, a bestselling author, a popular podcaster, a pretty impressive ukulele player, the PC guy from those old Apple commercials, and also an ordinary guy.

We are happy to make Book Tickets available for this Festival sessions, which means that fans can secure a signed copy of the book and first access to seating to this session in advance. We do this because it helps us ensure that we don’t over-promise seats or books and that no one wastes time the day-of standing in line only to be turned away. Book Tickets also support our nonprofit!

Full details and Book Tickets here


Attica Locke – Heaven, My Home
Attica Locke is a story-telling powerhouse. If you’ve had the good fortune to see her in person, you know how quickly she draws an audience in with her passion, her deep knowledge, and humor. She is also one of our most celebrated Texas crime writers, bringing to life her East Texas background in her acclaimed and bestselling books. All of this is not to mention her career as a screenwriter for When They See Us, Empire, and other acclaimed shows. Her latest crime novel, Heaven, My Home, is a follow-up to bestselling Bluebird, Bluebird and finds us back in the East Texas terrain of Texas Ranger Darren Matthews.

Jericho Brown – The Tradition
Poet Jericho Brown’s latest collection, The Tradition, has been one of the most highly anticipated books across any genre in 2019. Since it landed on shelves in April, The Tradition has catapulted to the top of must-read lists and made Brown, a Whiting Award winner and recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, among many other achievements, a literary household name. Writing about his experience as a black, gay Southern man in America, Brown’s work has resonated with many readers. At the Festival, we look forward to a session dedicated to Brown and this exceptional new work.

Kristen Arnett – Mostly Dead Things
Perhaps you know her as a librarian. A Floridian. Person of many pets. Frequenter of 7-11. Punster. Ravioli philosopher. New York Times bestselling novelist. Kristen Arnett first came across my radar with her debut story collection, Felt in the Jaw, in 2017. Her new novel, Mostly Dead Things, may have taken over your Twitter feed when it was officially published a few weeks back. This story of taxidermy and Florida is a unique, touching, and often hilarious take on grief, love, and family.

Susan Choi – Trust Exercise 
Trust Exercise absolutely knocked my socks off. Choi takes the concept of the novel to daring, exhilarating new territory in this story of teenage students coming of age at a performing arts high school. Questions of truth — who gets to tell it, who gets to define it, who gets to claim it — are at the center of this riveting, mind-bending work of fiction. Make sure you read this one with a friend. You’re going to want to talk about it when you’re done.


Saeed Jones – How We Fight for Our Lives
Saeed Jones is well-known for his work as BuzzFeed’s LGBTQ culture editor and, until recently, the co-host of BuzzFeed’s morning show, “AM to DM.” He is also an acclaimed poet, whose collection Prelude to a Bruise won the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award, and was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. This new memoir, his first, is a poignant examination of his experience coming of age as a gay black man and of his relationship with his mother. When I finished this book, all I could do was sit there and be held by the beauty of this language, the tenderness and honesty of Jones’s accounting of his own life, and the sweet tension and love between mother and son. This book is a gift.

Alexander McCall-Smith – To the Land of Long Lost Friends
Known for his warmth, wit, and signature style that highlights the humanity of his  beloved characters and settings, Alexander McCall Smith became a household name with his “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency “series, first launched into the world in 1999. Twenty years later, Smith is an internationally bestselling author whose work has expanded to fill multiple bestselling series, stand alone novels, and even children’s books. A new installment in “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency ” series is always a major event and we’re honored Smith will share it with us here in Texas.    

Hafsah Faizal – We Hunt the Flame
We love YA at the Texas Book Festival! This year, we’ll once again bring back our YA HQ Tent, your destination for YA authors at the Fest. Hafsah Faizal’s debut We Hunt the Flame exploded onto the scene this year, enchanting readers with its tale of intrigue, romance and ancient Arabia. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the Fest. Fans of fantasy, don’t miss this one!


Kwame Alexander – The Undefeated
This picture book by Newbery Award honoree and children’s author powerhouse Kwame Alexander had me in tears the first time I read it. Proud and powerful, The Undefeated highlights black triumph in America by celebrating those who have made history by progressing civil rights and fighting for justice. Without giving away too much, we can tell you that Alexander’s Festival appearance will include a special, not-to-be-missed musical performance.

Cassy Joy Garcia – Cook Once, Eat All Week 
San Antonio-native and Texas A&M graduate Cassy Joy Garcia was in her early twenties and suffering from pain, exhaustion and anxiety when she began studying nutrition. Her work became a life-changing passion, launching not only a new way of life, but a brand new career helping all of us learn how to be more mindful of the relationship between food and our quality of life. Her new cookbook, Cook Once, Eat All Week, is a friendly guide to making good eating easy, affordable and fun, every day and every week.

William McRaven – Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations
Admiral William McRaven has played a part in some of the most significant missions in military history, from the capture of Saddam Hussein to the raid on Osama bin Laden. His previous book was a #1 New York Times bestseller. We are honored that he will join us to discuss his new work, Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, and share more stories from his remarkable and heroic life and career in United States special operations.


Ben Mezrich – Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption
Strap in for a behind-the-scenes ride into the rise of bitcoin. Mezrich’s previous book, Accidental Millionaires, was a huge bestseller and became the basis for the movie The Social Network. Now, Mezrich picks up the story of brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss as they dust off the aftermath of their falling out with Zuckerberg and bet on a brand new piece of technological revolution: crypto-currency.


Oscar Cásares – Where We Come From
Brownsville native Oscar Cásares has penned a thoughtful, illuminating new novel about a woman unwittingly caught up in human smuggling on the border between Mexico and the United States. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting Oscar in Midland and Austin to talk about this book in its launch month. I’ve now heard him read from this story three times, and, each time, I’ve been riveted by the understated style with which he delivers such enormous emotional impact. This is not a political novel; it is a human story, and we’re grateful to Oscar for joining us to talk about it.

Marie Arana – Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story
First and foremost, I have to recognize Marie Arana as a colleague. As the Literary Director of the National Book Festival, Arana brings together a wonderful lineup of writers each year in Washington D. C. for a book festival founded with the same vision and with the same founder as our Festival: Laura Bush. As a historian, Arana examines Latin America in her new book through the lives of three individuals who represent the forces that have shaped the region.

Aarti Namdev Shahani – Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares
One of the primary reasons I read is to understand our collective human experience. One of the most discussed and debated human experiences right now is that of migration, moving from one country to another. Narratives about the “right” and “wrong” way to immigrate to America abound, and it is thanks to writers such as Aart Namdev Shahani that we are able to see beyond galvanizing stereotypes to the actual quality of what it means to come to this country. Shahani, an NPR correspondent, writes about her family’s experience moving to Queens from India, and the complicated truths at the center of their relationship to this country and her relationship to her father.

This is just the beginning! We have so many amazing authors in store for you at this year’s Texas Book Festival. We’ll be busy over the next few months bringing together all of the details for the big weekend. Stay tuned for more major announcements over the next couple of months, including announcements of this year’s Gala authors, our children’s lineup, and, of course, the announcement of our full author lineup coming at the end of August!

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