Preview: African American Book Festival

This Saturday, June 23rd, the 12th annual Austin African American Book Festival will take place from 9:30 – 5:00 pm at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

The mission of this festival, which began in 2007, is to, “…promote empowerment through literature. We are a community event that brings readers and writers together and produces and facilitates collaboration, dialogue, creativity and activism.” The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to author signings, the festival will host several panels, including a new author showcase, children’s story time, and a Black Sci Fi Writers and Readers Meetup. This year’s keynote speaker is Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Print and father of bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The 2018 author lineup also includes Victoria Christopher Murray, Evan Narcisse, Brooke Obie, Lori Aurelia Williams and Don Tate.

Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than 30 books including If Only for One Night, Temptation: The Aftermath, It Should’ve Been Me and Fortune & Fame. The prolific author is an Essence bestselling author and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction.

Evan Narcisse is the journalist turned comic book author behind the new Rise of the Black Panther series, co-written with bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. Rise of the Black Panther follows the life of young T’Challa, crown prince of the powerful kingdom of Wakanda, as he copes with the death of his father, and battles T’Chaka for the throne that is his birthright. Narcisse, along with Coates, has released six comics thus far.

Brooke Obie is the author of the award-winning novel Cradled Embers, the first book in the Book of Addis series. Cradled Embers is the story of a young woman, Addis, who has escaped the man that enslaved her and is now on the run. This story about oppression, love, loss, and freedom won the 2017 Phillis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction and the 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award for self-published fiction.

Lori Aurelia Williams is the YA author of When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, Broken China, Maxine Banks is Getting Married and Shayla’s Double Brown Baby Blues. Williams is also a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and recipient of a James A. Michener Fellowship. Born in Houston, Williams currently resides in Austin.

Don Tate an illustrator and author with more than 50 children’s books to his name including Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and Ron’s Big Mission. Tate’s books tend to focus on historical events, he is the two-time recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats Book Author Award, the winner of a 2016 Christopher Award and a 2016 Texas Institute of Letters book award.

For more information, visit: http://www.aabookfest.com/

Ticket Give Away: Texas Monthly Live!

 

We love a good night of live storytelling. We bet you do, too. Our friends at Texas Monthly are putting together a night of live, Texas-style storytelling at the Paramount Theatre in Austin that you won’t want to miss. We’re excited to give away a pair of tickets to the show!

 

Texas Monthly Live!
Friday, May 4 at 7pm
Paramount Theatre, Austin

 

About Texas Monthly LIVE
Texans will experience the magic of an issue of Texas Monthly re-imagined for a live studio audience at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin. Mixing music, video, narration, and live performances, this special 90-minute editorial performance will take audience members on a gritty storytelling journey they’ll never forget. Texas Monthly Live will feature live stories curated by the magazine’s editors showcasing the breadth and depth of Texas.

Secure Your Seat at the Paramount!
Enter below to win a pair of tickets to Texas Monthly Live! You can also purchase tickets, while they last. Use the code PROUDTEXAN at checkout to receive 15% off the ticket price.

Winners of the give away will be contacted on Wednesday, April 26. We’ll see y’all at the Paramount Theatre on May 4!

 

Elizabeth Crook on her new novel “THE WHICH WAY TREE”

Elizabeth Crook’s latest novel The Which Way Tree is an epic southern tale. It chronicles the dangerous endeavors of Samantha Shreve, a 12-year-old girl growing up in Austin, Texas, just after the Civil War. After witnessing a panther kill her mother, she sets out with a hodge-podge team of characters to slay the evil beast—which, around these parts, is known as El Demonio de Dos Dedos. Told from the point of view of her older brother Ben, the story feels both authentic and intimate.

Crook is the award-winning author of five books, including Monday, Monday, a fictional account of the 1960 mass shooting at The University of Texas at Austin, which won the 2015 Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. Our intern Marisa asked her a few questions about her new book, which is available at your local bookstore or library now!

 

What was the research process like for this book?

A lot of fun. It involved the usual plunge into history books, articles, old authentic journals and letters from the period—a lot of reading and note taking about everything from the politics of the time to the specifics of daily life. And then of course it involved deciding what was relevant to the story and what wasn’t—and leaving a lot of it out. It was more fun than it sounds! Essentially, as a writer, you have to know the history intimately enough to step into that time every day and get around without being recognized as an imposter.

 

In your mind, how does this book veer from or continue themes you’ve explored in your previous books?

That’s hard to say: my books differ vastly in subject matter. The most common theme is humanity running up against inhumanity during various kinds of chaos.  For the most part my characters, in all five books, tend to be good people trying to make their way through actual historical, and often violent, events. They often make grave mistakes in the ways they try to navigate. The books portray some amount of loss and sadness but aren’t depressing, I hope. There’s a big difference between a book that makes you sad at moments and a book that leaves you depressed. I wouldn’t want to write the latter. The Which Way Tree deals with heavy subject matter, as my other books do also, but what readers often comment on is the humor in Benjamin’s storytelling.

 

Why did you decide to write this book now?

When my son was fourteen he got lost in the canyons in Bandera County one night, and was finally located by search helicopters after a nine hour hunt, during which a mountain lion was spotted trailing through the canyon into which he had disappered. It was the scariest night of my life and left me obsessed with mountain lions and their attacks on humans. I read everything I could find on the subject. I guess I wrote this story partly because I had run out of real life accounts to obsess over.   

 

What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you try to overcome them?

Actually The Which Way Tree presented fewer challenges than my other books and was more fun to write. Every chapter rolled naturally into the next. I suppose the greatest challege was how to frame it. A boy Benjamin’s age wouldn’t simply sit down and write this tale, so I needed to give him a plausible reason for doing so. It took some figuring and brainstorming, but in the end I decided to write the story as testimony to a war crime, under mandate of a judge, in order to justify its existence.  

 

The book tells the story of an epic tale, akin to that of “The Whale” (Moby-Dick) which you mention several times throughout. Yet, the book itself isn’t too lengthy. How did you manage that?

Benjamin is recounting events that deal with a small cast of characters during a brief amount of time. He doesn’t elaborate, he just tells what happened. So the story covers a lot of ground quickly. For instance, here’s the brief paragraph at the end of a chapter, when Benjamin and three other characters set out to fetch a panther tracking dog:

“We fed the goats, turned the chickens loose in the yard to scratch, tossed cobs out for the pigs should they come up from the creek, mounted up and started off. It was about noon at that time.” Having Benjamin tell the story kept me from wasting any words in describing how things are done. They’re just done.  

 

When writing books that take place in a different time period, do you ever feel a pressure to make them relevant to today? If so, why and how do you achieve that?

No, I never strive for that. If I’m telling a story set in the past, it stays where it’s rooted. If there are themes relevant to today, it’s only because human nature tends to lead us into the same kind of predicaments repeatedly.

Event: GOD SAVE TEXAS Book Launch with Lawrence Wright!

Join us as we celebrate the official launch of GOD SAVE TEXAS, the highly anticipated new book from Pulitzer Prize-winning Texas writer Lawrence Wright!


What:
Lawrence Wright speaking about and signing God Save Texas

When: Tuesday, April 17 at 7pm. Doors at 6pm.

Where: Central Presbyterian Church, 200 E 8th St, Austin, TX 78701

Hosted by: Texas Book Festival and Austin Film Festival. BookPeople is the bookseller for this event.

Book Tickets: Free admission with the purchase of a copy of God Save Texas. Book Tickets will be available, as space allows, at the door.

Books will be received at the event. Seating is first come, first serve.

General admission tickets are also available. General admission tickets will be available online through Monday, April 16. As of Tuesday, April 17, they will be available at the door, as space allows.

All ticket purchases support Texas Book Festival and Austin Film Festival, your local cultural arts nonprofits committed to keeping Austin interesting.

Can’t attend the event? Signed copies of the book are available to pre-order from BookPeople. They ship worldwide!

 


The Texas Book Festival and the Austin Film Festival are proud to present Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright in celebration of the launch of his highly anticipated new book, God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State. Wright will appear in conversation with AFF Executive Director Barbara Morgan at Central Presbyterian Church.

Admission is free with the purchase of a copy of God Save Texas from TBF and AFF. General admission tickets are also available. A book signing will follow the talk. Additional copies of the book will be available for sale at the event, courtesy of BookPeople.

About God Save Texas

In the summer of 2017, The New Yorker ran “America’s Future is Texas,” an excerpt of God Save Texas that caught massive national attention. Here, now, is the full story, a profound portrait of our Lone Star State that explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas the way only a native—and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist—can.

Join us for a conversation with Wright that digs deep into the heart of Texas and all of its complicated, contradictory, controversial glory. Wright holds up our stereotypes for rigorous scrutiny, examining everything from our kingdom of oil to our technology exports; our blue cities to our red state; our economic growth to our income disparity; and much more. If what happens here is what happens in the nation, then what, exactly, is going on? And what’s to come?

About Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of nine previous books of nonfiction, including In the New World, Remembering Satan, The Looming Tower, Going Clear, Thirteen Days in September, and The Terror Years, and one novel, God’s Favorite. His books have received many prizes and honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. He is a longtime resident of Austin.


Join us for this big conversation about Texas.
Free Admission With The Purchase of GOD SAVE TEXAS.

Thank you for supporting your local cultural arts nonprofits!

 

 

The 2018 Texas Teen Book Festival!

The Texas Teen Book Festival has announced its 2018 date! Mark your calendars now for another awesome celebration of YA authors, books, reading, writing, and the wonderful YA community we have here in Texas.

Head to the #TTBF website for full details of when and where to be. Be sure to sign up for the #TTBF enewsletter while you’re there to stay up to the minute with #TTBF news as it hits.

Want to keep up with #TTBF YA love every day? Follow the Texas Teen Book Festival on FacebookTwitter andInstagram.

2017 Texas Teen Book Festival Keynotes

The Texas Teen Book Festival has announced its 2017 keynote authors!

“TTBF 2017 is shaping up to be amazing!” says Festival Director Shawn Mauser. “I could hardly keep the keynote news to myself. Connecting teens with authors they love is the core of what we do. We’re thrilled to give Texas teens the opportunity to meet these exciting, inspiring writers.”

Head to the Texas Teen Book Festival site to check out this year’s fabulous keynote authors!

Join us at St. Edward’s University on October 7 for another jam-packed day of all things YA. The Texas Teen Book Festival is, as always, free and open to the public. Stay tuned to #TTBF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute news and announcements about this year’s Fest. Sign up for the TTBF mailing list to have all of the latest information delivered straight to your inbox.

This is only the beginning. So much more big news to come! We can’t wait for October 7!

2017 Internship Opportunities!

Join the Texas Book Festival Team as an Intern!

The Texas Book Festival and the Texas Teen Book Festival offer ongoing unpaid internships designed to expose qualified applicants to editorial, marketing and publicity, and development work, and other aspects of publishing, nonprofit organizations, and event planning. We’re now accepting applications for 2017 internships!

Take a look at the full list of available internships.

From programming to outreach to development and graphic design, we’re looking for help! Festival internships are particularly valuable for those interested in publishing, journalism, creative writing, and nonprofit operations. Interns receive a front row view of the inner workings of book marketing, publicity and event management, as well as gain an understanding of the rhythms and cycles of publishing, nonprofit fundraising, and community engagement.

Full disclosure: if you intern for the Texas Book Festival, there’s a 95% chance you will be asked to pose for Instagram. It’s painless, we promise. Look at these happy interns:

 

 

And also sometimes there’s dancing!

 

APPLY TO BE A FESTIVAL INTERN!

TBF + BookPeople Present: ANTHONY DOERR

Anthony Doerr Web Slider (1)

We’re pleased to announce we’ve teamed up with BookPeople to welcome Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, to Central Presbyterian Church in Austin to speak about and sign his highly acclaimed novel on Thursday, April 6th at 7:00PM.

Tickets are now available and include a paperback copy of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.
VIP tickets support the Festival and come with a set of limited edition TBF cards featuring the art of Jack Unruh!

 

IMG_0081 IMG_0080

 

If you, like us, are among the thousands of readers who were stunned by Doerr’s beautiful, wrenching novel set during World War II, don’t miss this opportunity to hear him discuss this unforgettable story and meet him in person. Doerr will be signing books at Central Presbyterian Church after he talks. We hope you’ll choose to support the Texas Book Festival’s literacy programs by selecting a VIP ticket. Every dollar funds our mission to connect readers with authors and to strengthen libraries and literacy across Texas.

In addition to his phenomenally bestselling, award-winning recent novel, Doerr is also the author of two story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won four O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize.

Here’s a little preview of what we have to look forward to on April 6th: 

 

We hope you’ll join us and BookPeople for this very special event. Purchase your tickets now!

From the Lit Director Desk: What I’m Reading

FullSizeRender (11)(Getting the hard work done.)

 

Greetings from the new year! I’ve been busy powering through my early 2017 reading list while I start to get things up and running for this year’s Festival. (This year’s Texas Book Festival takes place November 4-5 here in Austin.) Here’s a quick look at the books that have stuck to the top of my pile. They all come out in The Future, which isn’t always convenient for those of us who live in The Now, so I’ve also put together a quick list of books to look for this month, as well as new books that have recently hit shelves.

 

what it means

What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
(Riverhead, April 4)

Sharp and surprising, fantastic and dark, human and heartbreaking, this debut collection by Lesley Nneka Arimah is a must-add to your short fiction list this year. Arimah covers a lot of ground in these stories, digging into the tension of parent-child relationships (particularly mothers and daughters), the hollows of loss, and the small ways in which we move forward, sometimes with hope and sometimes not. Elements of magical realism drift through this collection, creating a world in which human babies begin as handmade bundles of found material and a dead mother steps out of a photograph and back into life. I was met with the unexpected, story after story, page after page. I loved every minute of reading this book.

 

salt-houses

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2)

I’m about halfway through this absorbing story by Palestinian-American poet and debut novelist Hala Alyan. Opening with the wedding of Alia in 1967, the novel tells the story of a Palestinian family over the course of generations, beginning with the Six Day War, as they’re uprooted physically and emotionally by political violence. This is the book I’m itching to stop everything and read during those awful moments when I’m forced to do other things like go to work and talk to humans. Alyan’s well-drawn characters are a personal, poignant lens on the effects of the long conflict, presenting history in its human details; a New Year’s celebration underpinned by dread, marital spats grown out of the grief of unspoken tragedy, children born into a word changed in manners they don’t even know. Alyan’s attention to visual detail underscores the poignant emotional tension of the story, creating a world I can feel in all senses. Beautifully done. I can’t wait to finish this blog post and read more.

 

the rules do not apply

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
(Random House, March 2017)

I started reading this memoir with many plans on deck for that day; now, hours later, the dishes weren’t done, I was still in my pajamas, and I’d wholly consumed this story, cover to cover. Levy writes of being a woman in her late thirties who has proudly built an unconventional life as a globe-trotting journalist and wife, only to watch the elements of her security and success come apart in perfectly human ways she did not expect. The consequences of presumption underscore each chapter; the presumption that a marriage built on love will survive unscathed; the presumption that you can have everything you set out to want in life and not expect to want more; the presumption that a life carefully and joyfully planned will play out precisely according to script. When presumptions fail, then what? The writing is sharp and vibrant (Levy is a journalist) and swept me right along. This book is recommended for anyone staring at the rest of her life, whatever joys and tragedies may lay in her wake, and wondering, What could possibly come next?

 

sing-unburied-sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
(Scribner, September 2017)

This novel absolutely blew me away. Jesmyn Ward is the author of the 2011 National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, the memoir The Men We Reaped, and is the editor of the 2016 essay collection, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race. Sing, Unburied, Sing is her first novel since winning the National Book Award. It’s been at the top of my most-anticipated books of 2017. Ward is a phenomenal writer with a classic style. Each sentence in this novel feels forged from the blood and dirt of the human heart, visceral and precise, vital and inevitable. Chapters alternate perspective between Jojo, a boy coming of age on his grandparents’ farm in Mississippi, and his mother, Leonie, whose drug addiction pitches the family into a steady thrum of danger that ratchets up page by page. I loved this book, even during scenes when the tension was excruciating. I held my breath for Jojo, for his two year old sister, Kayla, for their grandfather, for Leonie. Ward weaves tremendous tenderness in with the tension, binding the family in deep love and haunting history. Supernatural elements sew their generations together, dissolving time and lighting up the long effects of racism, incarceration and grief. As soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to discuss Sing, Unburied, Sing with someone. An unforgettable story, told in unforgettable writing. I wish it was September so we could all get together and talk about this book together right now.

 

Books to look for in February

the refugees more-beautiful-beyonce abandon-me

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward

 

New Books Out Now To Keep On Your Radar

selection day lucky boy history-of-wolves

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller
Human Acts by Han Kang
My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

 

 

The 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival!

TTBF 2017 Date Enews Announcement

The Texas Teen Book Festival has announced its 2017 date! Mark your calendars now for another awesome celebration of YA authors, books, reading, writing, and the wonderful YA community we have here in Texas.

Head to the #TTBF website for full details of when and where to be. Be sure to sign up for the #TTBF enewsletter while you’re there to stay up to the minute with #TTBF news as it hits.

Want to keep up with #TTBF YA love every day? Follow the Texas Teen Book Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.