Discover Debut and Breakout Authors

The Texas Book Festival is a great place to discover new authors and the fresh talent that will be dazzling our shelves, and awards lists, for years to come. We’ve curated a guide to sessions featuring some of the debut and breakout authors who have impressed us this year. Take a moment to check out a new voice at this year’s Fest and be a part of the early groundswell of support for these fabulous new writers. Check out our full schedule of all there is to discover at this year’s Festival!



Saturday, 27 October 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm
Chaya Bhuvaneswar and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Cutting Across the Page: Short Fiction with An Edge
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.012

In provocative, boundary-pushing new collections of short fiction, Brenyah and Bhuvaneswar dive deep into the territory of race, class and identity with searing narratives that cut across cultures and assumptions. What space does short fiction allow for these vital explorations? What brings these writers and their thrilling visions to this form?



Saturday, 27 October 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Naima Coster and Xhenet Aliu
If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.014

In moving new debut novels, Xhenet Aliu (Brass) and Naima Coster (Halsey Street) reckon with the push and pull of mother-daughter relationships against the backdrops of small-town economics and big city gentrification. Family history unspools as they examine how much of the past forges a woman’s future.



Saturday, 27 October 2:30 pm – 3:15 pm
R. O. Kwon and John Wray
Believe Me: Novelists on Faith, Extremism and Fiction
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.016

Cults, religious extremism, and faith are at the center of R. O. Kwon’s electrifying debut, The Incendiaries, and Wray’s newest novel, Godsend. What makes their young women protagonists susceptible to the sway of a higher calling? What drives people to risk their lives, skirt danger, and hand themselves over to a new power?







Saturday, 27 October 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm
Elizabeth McCracken, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Fernando Flores
Sneak Peek of 2019
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.026

Join us for a sneak peek of new books coming out in 2018! Authors Elizabeth McCracken, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Fernando Flores will give us a glimpse of their forthcoming books. Join them and be the first to know about some of the most exciting books being published next year!



Saturday, 27 October 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm
Tommy Orange and Terese Marie Mailhot
Just the Beginning
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.026

Two of the most talked about writers of 2018 sit down to discuss their highly acclaimed debut work, a kaleidoscopic novel of literary power, and a memoir that snaps the traditional boundaries of the genre with rigorous passion. Their unforgettable work is just the beginning. Get to know these writers at the launch of their literary careers.



Saturday, 27 October 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm
Aja Gabel and Lillian Li
Forged Families in Favorite New Fiction
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.030

Tight-knit family dynamics rise in unexpected places in these sharp new debut novels. Whether it’s hustling in a busy Chinese restaurant or playing music in a quartet, Aja Gabel (The Ensemble) and Lillian Li (Number One Chinese Restaurant) show that family can be found far outside the home and explore what it is about these special bonds that endure in ways family relationships cannot.



Saturday, 27 October 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm
Jamel Brinkley and Nick White
Boys to Men: Short Fiction on Masculinity
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.036

What does it mean to be a man in today’s society? In sharp new short fiction collections, Brinkley and White explore masculinity at the intersection of racial and sexual identity. From the margins, they draw big, bold new portraits of the responsibilities of being male in America.



Sunday, 28 October 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Wayétu Moore and David Bowles
Origin Stories
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.010

Magical realism can help us understand the world, and instill a sense of wonder in those things we may not understand. New work by Bowles and Moore reimagine the beginnings of Mexico and Liberia. What’s at stake when we take our origin stories and put new words to these fundamental cultural touchstones?



Sunday, 28 October 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm
Casey Gerald and Stephen Markley
The Unraveling American Dream
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.016

The brittle bones of the American Dream are at the core of new nonfiction by Casey Gerald (There Will Be No Miracles Here) and fiction by Stephen Markley (Ohio). As idealized visions of success, service, a sense of home, and a sense of purpose are thrown into stark relief against our country’s reality, the question is unavoidable: is the fantasy we’re serving ourselves the very thing that is killing us?



Sunday, 28 October 2 pm – 2:45 pm
Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Elaine Castillo, Crystal Hana Kim
Turning Obstacles Into Autonomy
Location: Capitol, CAP EXT 2.010

Political violence confronts the strong, unforgettable female protagonists in new novels by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Fruit of the Drunken Tree), Elaine Castillo (America Is Not the Heart), and Crystal Hana Kim (If I Leave You). Join them as they discuss drawing on the past to craft compelling narratives with characters who establish autonomy in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.


The 23rd annual Texas Book Festival takes place October 27-28, 2018 in and around the State Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas. 300 authors, 80+ exhibitors and two days of book signings and conversations as big as Texas. The Festival is FREE and open to the public! View the author list, browse the books and check out the full schedule of events