The 2019 Kirkus Reviews Tent

We’re pleased to once again partner with Kirkus Reviewsthe prominent American review magazine and one of the most trusted voices in book discovery, to present a full weekend of literary sessions for readers of all ages in the Kirkus Reviews Tent on Eleventh Street.

Kicking off the weekend is a high-power panel of the 2019 Kirkus Prize Finalists. The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. Don’t miss this chance to hear them talk about their acclaimed work.

The Kirkus Reviews Tent is in the center of the Festival, close to the Book Sales Tents and the C-Span2/BookTV Tent. Be sure to stop by!


Meet the 2019 Kirkus Prize Finalists!
10:00AM – 11:00AM, Saturday 10/26
Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading pre-publication journal of book reviews, is proud to sponsor the annual Kirkus Prize, which bestows $150,000 divided by three winning writers. At this panel, you’ll hear the finalists of this year’s Prize—some of this year’s most intriguing and insightful writers—talk about their most recent books. Featuring Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson (The Undefeated), Jerry Craft (The New Kid), Laila Lalami (The Other Americans), Rosalind Harvey (The Other Side), Alicia D. Williams (Genesis Begins Again). More authors to be announced!
Author(s): Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson, Jerry Craft, Laila Lalami, Rosalind Harvey, Alicia D. Williams

Forget Astronauts, Introducing The AstroNuts!
11:00 am – 11:45 am, Saturday, October 26
Uh-oh! Looks like humans have no place to go after Earth. Worry not! The AstroNuts are here! Hybridized to find other planets, AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug are here to find another planet for humans to live. Join us as this major new series by kid lit legend Jon Scieszka and illustrator Steven Weinberg launches us into outer space adventure!
Author(s): Jon Scieszka, Steven Weinberg

The Undefeated with Kwame Alexander
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm, Saturday, October 26
Bestselling poet and Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander returns to the Texas Book Festival with a powerful, moving new picture book that celebrates black life in America and pays tribute to the struggle of black Americans. The Undefeated is a love letter to black life in the United States and is one of the most remarkable and beautiful new picture books of the year, a must for the shelf of readers young and old. Kwame is planning a special presentation that includes a musical performance!
Author(s): Kwame Alexander

Writing the Civil Rights Movement
1:15 pm – 2:00 pm, Saturday, October 26
Bestselling author Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball player Jackie Robinson, will be joined by Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney and author Barry Wittenstein to discuss their new books that remember and celebrate the Civil Rights movement. What can young readers–and all of us–learn from the past?
Author(s): Sharon Robinson, Jerry Pinkney, Barry Wittenstein

When I Was a Kid: Writing Books Inspired by Our Childhoods
2:30 pm – 3:15 pm, Saturday, October 26
Newbery Award-winner Meg Medina (Merci Suarez Changes Gears), bestselling author Ibi Zoboi (My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich), and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (Proudest Blue) take the stage to share their latest books, all fictional stories inspired in different ways by their childhoods. This is a panel with major star power, featuring three of the biggest names in children’s literature who inspire kids every day with their words. Don’t miss it!
Author(s): Meg Medina, Ibi Zoboi, Ibtihaj Muhammad

No Treehouse is Complete without 117 Stories!
4:00 pm – 4:45 pm, Saturday, October 26
Get ready for another zainey adventure with Andy and Terry as they upgrade their tree house to 117 stories! We love this hilarious, bestselling series. This absurdly funny ninth book in the series will surely inspire you to have your own 117 story treehouse.
Author: Andy Griffiths


Repeating the Past: Historical Fiction About Turbulent Times
11:00 am – 11:45 am, Sunday, October 27
Spain under Franco in 1957 sets the scene for young Americans who find themselves faced with the dark shadow of fascism in Fountains of Silence, the highly anticipated new historical novel. Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence—inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.
Author: Ruta Sepetys

 Story For Miles: Writing Big Fiction
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm, Sunday, October 27
In an era of 7 second videos and 33 character tweets, two novelists dare to bring us sprawling epic stories that span generations and embrace multiple perspectives. Award winning author Elizabeth McCracken (Bowlaway) and debut author Namwali Serpell (The Old Drift) take on BIG family sagas that hold our attention.
Author(s): Elizabeth McCracken, Namwali Serpell

Everything We Didn’t Know: Riveting Memoirs of Family Secrets
1:00 pm – 1:45 pm, Sunday, October 27
In complex, beautiful memoirs, literary icons Dani Shapiro (Inheritance) and Adrienne Brodeur (Wild Game) explore the corrosive effects of long-held family secrets. With stories that reach far beyond the personal, these memoirs each pose larger questions about the nature of identity and what it means to rebuild in the aftermath of betrayal.
Author(s): Dani Shapiro, Adrienne Brodeur

We’ve Been Through It: Stories of Strength and Survival
2:15 pm – 3:00 pm, Sunday, October 27
True stories of making it through the hardest, darkest human experiences are some of the most powerful and shared literature on our shelves. But what does it take to write the books? Authors Laurie Halse Anderson (Shout), Jaquira Díaz (Ordinary Girls), Cyrus Dunham (A Year Without A Name), and Jeannie Vanasco (Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl) share their stories of strength, survival, and the power of the pen to transform.
Author(s): Laurie Halse Anderson, Jaquira Díaz, Cyrus Dunham, and Jeannie Vanasco

A Conversation with Rainbow Rowell
3:15 pm – 4:00 pm, Sunday, October 27
Bestselling author Rainbow Rowell sits down at Texas Book Fest to talk about her brand new book, Wayward Son, the sequel to her #1 New York Times bestselling book, Carry On. What happens when the hero’s journey is over? What comes next when your life has only just begun? Don’t miss this amazing conversation!
Author(s): Rainbow Rowell, Mariko Tamaki



Free Family Fun at Texas Book Fest!

Calling all young book lovers! There’s so much to learn, explore, and do at this year’s Texas Book Festival! Kids on Congress, our Congress Avenue thoroughfare highlighting exciting kids authors and activities, is back and better than ever. In fact, it’s so robust, we can’t even fit it all on Congress Avenue! Whether you’re a picture book reader, YA fanatic, or chapter book lover, we’ve got something for you. You don’t want to miss out on these free, all-day events, including author storytimes, live music, hands on activities, and giveaways!

Explore the Festival with a Kid’s Passport


Stop by the Children’s Activity Tent and pick up a Kid’s Passport! Return your passport at the end of the day with at least five stamps from specific activities — such as meeting a new friend, reading a new book, and visiting the Kirkus Reviews tent — and get a free small scoop of Amy’s ice cream!

Where’s Waldo? At Texas Book Fest!


2017 Texas Book Festival

Make sure to keep an eye out for everyone’s favorite hidden, red stripe-wearing character, Waldo! Candlewick Press is presenting a Where’s Waldo scavenger hunt, scattering several Waldo cutouts throughout the Festival grounds. You can pick up the scavenger hunt forms at the Children’s Activity Tent, but also be on the lookout for a real-life Waldo running around Congress Avenue!

How to See Sonia Sotomayor at Texas Book Fest

U.S. Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be in conversation about her new picture book, Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You in the House Chamber at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, October 27 at 11:30AM. Afterwards, she will sign books. Space is limited. Please read the full event guidelines if you’d like to attend.

Must-See Authors at First United Methodist Church!

Saturday, October 26 at 10:00AM
Graphix Con: Great New Graphic Novels for Young Readers
featuring Raina Telgemeier, Gale Galligan, and Molly Ostertag!

Saturday, October 26 at 12:45PM
The Power of Kindness and Wonder: R. J. Palacio in Conversation

Read Me A Story Tent: The Spot for Picture Books


We’re so happy to bring some of today’s best picture book authors and illustrators to this year’s Festival, including Judy Schachner, Kat Zhang, Eric Velasquez, Isabel Quintero, Matt Tavares, and many more! With new storytimes beginning every 30 minutes, this tent invites kids to interact authors and illustrators while understanding they may have to get up and get their wiggles out, too! Search “Read Me A Story” on our schedule to see the full list of authors, illustrators, and storytimes!

Children’s Authors in the Latinx Lit Tent!


This year’s bilingual storytimes in the Latinx Lit Tent bring Tania de Regil, Duncan Tonatiuh, and Megan and Jorge Lacera to Congress Avenue! Additionally, make sure to catch Saturday’s celebration of the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Book Award winners with David Bowles and Xelena Gonzalez. 

Children’s Authors in the Kirkus Reviews Tent


Don’t miss some of our favorite picture book, chapter book, and YA authors in the Kirkus Review Tent! Kwame Alexander brings us The Undefeated; Steven Weinberg and Jon Scieszka are going AstroNuts, and Andy Griffiths invites us to imagine his 117-story treehouse! This is where you’ll also find special conversations with Ibtihaj Muhammad, Ibi Zoboi, Meg Medina, and Sharon Robinson. And don’t miss YA superstar Rainbow Rowell in conversation with Mariko Tamaki!

Next Chapter Tent: The Spot for Middle Grade Readers


Magic, animal adventures, and spies, oh my! The Next Chapter Tent will feature a variety of panels for middle grade readers and early chapter book lovers. Plus — we’ll be teaming up with the Texas Library Association to announce this year’s Texas Bluebonnet Award winners! Check out the full schedule in the Next Chapter Tent and come ready to ask questions and learn about the big adventures in these books!

The YA HQ Tent: All Young Adult Authors, All the Time

The Young Adult HQ Tent is back this year, giving YA lovers of all ages a chance to dive into fantastic worlds, epic quests, unique situations, star-crossed love stories, and some with happy endings, too. Join young heroes and heroines as they solve the world’s problems, save the adults and the planet, and find how to love themselves and others. Featuring tons of authors, including Maureen Johnson, Tochi Onyebuchi, L. L. McKinney, Jennifer Mathieu, and so many more! Check out the full YA HQ schedule here.

And don’t miss bestselling YA author Rainbow Rowell in the Kirkus Reviews Tent on Sunday, October 27 at 3:15PM! She’ll be in conversation with Mariko Tamaki about Wayward Son, the highly-anticipated follow up to Carry On!

So Much More Fun To Have!


2018 Texas Book Festival

YA publisher FIREreads and children’s book club Literati will be on-site at 10th and Congress with various interactive activities for kids of all ages. You won’t want to miss this fun opportunity for a hands-on Festival experience with these two fantastic, book-centric communities! And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to stop by the Penguin Young Readers outpost in our Next Chapter tent. The wonderful Penguin team will be giving away goodies throughout the day, so get ready middle grade readers!

Many thanks to St. David’s HealthCare for bringing Hook’em, UT’s lovable mascot, to our Festival grounds.

We’re so excited for a great, fun weekend! Check out our author lineup for a complete list of the authors at this year’s Festival.

Texas Book Fest Q&A with Fernando A. Flores

Fernando A. Flores is an Austin-based writer and bookseller. He is the author of Tears of the Trufflepig.

TBF: Why did you write your new book? What was your inspiration?

Fernando A. Flores: I wrote this book out of sheer will and fear, and sought to capture a border narrative beyond realism that would act like a haunted looking glass, and could reflect something morbid and very much real in our world today.

TBF: What’s the last book you read, loved, and can’t stop recommending? Why is it so good?

FF: Stay and Fight by Madeline Fitch is one of the most superb novels I’ve read in recent years. The writers I seek are the ones able to look past themselves to capture their time and place, and Madeline does this very admirably, with incredible force and originality.

TBF: What’s the first book you remember reading? Who gave it to you?

FF: The first book I remember having an impact on me was The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. I checked it out of the high school library when I was about 16, and, though I knew very little about that part of America, it affected me very much.


Fernando A. Flores is one of 300 authors who will appear at the 2019 Texas Book Festival which takes place October 26-27th 2019 in downtown Austin. The Festival is free and open to the public! Check out all of this year’s authors.

Texas Book Fest Q&A with Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera is the author of the new YA novel Dealing in Dreams

TBF: Why did you write your new book? What was your inspiration?

Lilliam Rivera: My young adult novel Dealing in Dreams was inspired by a book I read over and over again when I was in High School: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I loved the book and its depiction of family, class, and violence. Although the book was set in a place so outside of my own upbringing (I’m from the Bronx, New York) I could relate to the characters. When I was writing Dealing in Dreams , I kept thinking of what life would be like if girls were forced to grow up in a violent world. I wanted to explore a dystopian setting where girls are regulated to fight in gangs as their only way of life.

TBF: What’s the last book you read, loved, and can’t stop recommending? Why is it so good?

LR: The last book I read was the young adult book The Patron Saint of Nothing by Randy Ribay. It’s a heartbreaking story about a Filipino-American boy who travels back to the Philippines to find out what really happened to his cousin who was suddenly killed as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. It’s so timely and beautifully written.

TBF: What’s the first book you remember reading? Who gave it to you?

LR: The first book I remember reading was Babar Visits Another Planet by Laurent de Brunhoff. The picture book was so beautifully illustrated. I remember being in awe of the planet Babar visited and how his visit was a bit of a disaster. I’m sure my parents must have given me the book.


Lilliam Riverais one of 300 authors who will appear at the 2019 Texas Book Festival which takes place October 26-27th 2019 in downtown Austin. The Festival is free and open to the public! Check out all of this year’s authors.

Texas Book Fest Q&A with S. C. Gwynne

S. C. Gwynne is the author of the new history book, Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil WarHe is also the author of Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon.

TBF: Why did you write your new book? What was your inspiration?

S. C. Gwynne: I have always loved the American Civil War. I wrote a biography of Stonewall Jackson entitled Rebel Yell a few years ago, which covered the first two years of the war. I became so interested in the topic that I just had to see how the war ended. (The North won, as far as I can tell.)

TBF: What’s the last book you read, loved, and can’t stop recommending? Why is it so good?

SCG: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. I don’t normally read historical fiction but this stuff is so stunning I could not stay away.

TBF: What’s the first book you remember reading? Who gave it to you?

SCG: One of the “Dick and Jane” series that was inflicted on my generation. See Spot run. Run run run. What an inspiration to readers of all kinds. I have modeled my own literary style after it.


S. C. Gwynne is one of 300 authors who will appear at the 2019 Texas Book Festival which takes place October 26-27th 2019 in downtown Austin. The Festival is free and open to the public! Check out all of this year’s authors.

From the Lit Director Desk: 2019 Reads

Here we are again, on the giddy brink of another year of books (and what a massive year it is, with new work forthcoming from such heavyweights as Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Carmen Maria Machado, Téa Obreht, Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Strout—and we have’t even seen the full fall catalogs yet). As Literary Director, this is the time of year when I am in a happy tailspin, poring over publisher catalogs, industry reviews, and keeping an eye on the recommendations and reading habits of my colleagues to determine which book I’ll read next, and then next, and then next after that, so that I, along with our selection committees, can start to think about the shape of this year’s Texas Book Festival.

As I organize my reading life, I’m sharing my lists with you. Below, you’ll find a few of the 2019 books I’ve read so far and highly recommend. You’ll also find lists of which books I have my eye on and hope to read soon. This is by no means a comprehensive statement on what comprises worthwhile reading this year. My selections are fairly subjective, born from my own excitement, curiosity and what I’ve managed to get my hands on and read so far. The lists skew heavily towards fiction, because that’s how I spend my December (and my colleagues, Lea and Lydia, will have children’s and Young Adult lists for you soon).

I am immensely grateful to the writers who have poured years of energy, intelligence, time, and art into these new works. It can be easy to scroll past a cover without registering how much one individual put into telling this story (not to mention the agents, editors, publicists, and publishing house professionals who are living and breathing these titles right now, hoping you will love the book as much as they do). So, thank you to the writers and to everyone who works to put these stories in our hands. If you are also grateful to the writers, please show your appreciation by pre-ordering these books from your local independent bookseller! 


Mouthful of Birds: Stories by Samanta Schweblin
Translated by Megan McDowell

Riverhead, January 8
I was a big fan of Schweblin’s 2017 novel, Fever Dream. Strange and surreal, I had no idea what would happen page to page, and I reveled in the novel’s unsettling turns. When I opened her new short story collection, Mouthful of Birds, I hoped for the same landscape. Friends, Schweblin delivered. If you’re a fan of rosy, happy-ending, tied-with-a-bow, feel-good stories, I strongly advise you look elsewhere. These stories are dark, often verging on the border of mad and somewhat sinister territory, while remaining uniquely satisfying. The stories are also brief and I couldn’t help but tear through them, one slap after another, stirred and shaken, and left, once again, to delight in the terrain Schweblin is unafraid to tread; a daughter who eats live birds, a chorus of abandoned women wailing for revenge, an assassin’s horrific interview for a job. If you loved Friday Black, I highly recommend you make Mouthful of Birds one of the first collections you pick up this year.


Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
Ecco, February 5
Get ready to meet the world of Bertha Truitt, candlepin bowler and absolutely nobody’s fool. Bertha’s arrival in the small New England town of Salford at the turn of the twentieth century launches a decades-long, twisting, turning, character-rich tumble into the story of this community, the Truitt family, and the bowling alley Bertha establishes at their center. So much happens in these pages, it’s challenging to adequately sum up all there is to love about this tale. There is a molasses flood. There is a remarkable birth. There is bowling (so much bowling). Bowlaway has the feel of an epic yarn. You will be swept away, and gleefully. You may also come away with a deep, hankering urge to visit your local lanes (I certainly did, and have the novice’s sore forearm to prove it). If you love to get lost in a big novel written by a master storyteller whose humor and wit have earned her two National Book Award nods and The Story Prize, this book will absolutely bowl you over (I told myself I wouldn’t, but then I had to).


Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
Riverhead Books, March 19
This is one of the first 2019 books I read and it set a high bar for this year’s debut fiction. If you loved A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley (a 2018 TBF author and finalist for the National Book Award, who has also been recommending this collection), mark this collection right now as to-be-read. Washington, a Houston native, writes his sprawling, iconic Texas city through the voices, hopes, heartbreaks, and living rooms of its vivid neighborhoods. Dealing with the troubles of gentrification, coming of age, coming out, community, family, and identity, the characters in these stories offer a multi-lens view of their deftly portrayed world, including the experiences of a young man whose regular appearance makes him the collection’s unofficial center. Lyrical, and with insight both sharp and tender, Washington hits the ground running in this remarkable first book. While you wait for Lot to hit shelves, you can get to know some of Washington’s work online (he is, indeed, prolific). I recommend this piece in The New Yorker about the Beto effect in Texas right before midterm elections; this piece in the New York Times about Houston and Hurricane Harvey; this piece in The Paris Review on Pride; and this piece in Catapult about the Rothko Chapel.


Sing To It: New Stories by Amy Hempel
Scribner, March 26
I am, to put it mildly, the biggest Amy Hempel fan on the planet (though I can feel all of the other Hempel fans ready to fight me, such is our devotion to this incomparable writer, to which I say: put down your fists and let’s just read some stories, we can all be presidents of the same fan club). This is Hempel’s first new collection in more than a decade and it is an event. If you’re already a fan of Hempel’s work, you will be thrilled to once again marvel at her deft maneuvers to extract the mysterious, lonely, living, connected, funny center of the human condition. I am always impressed by the way Hempel’s focused attention turns ordinary detail into a miraculous interior, how I am instantly enraptured by “a giant vinyl slice of watermelon” for the pool. Her sentences dazzle me as they twist into unexpected images and surprise endings that feel absolutely inevitable. And she drops the best first sentences—for example: “People are getting away with murder, but I can’t get away with having a glass of water in bed.” Some of the stories in this collection are a single page or a few paragraphs, such as The Doll Tornado, which describes exactly what its title indicates. Longer is A Full-Service Shelter, the third story in the collection and the one that made me cry. The final story, Cloudland, comprises nearly half of the book, an engrossing dive into the life of a woman who gave up her child for adoption, based on a true story about a maternity home scandal. 2019 is an amazing year. It is an Amy Hempel year. We are all so lucky.


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
One World, April 2
This debut story collection is one of my favorite discoveries so far of 2019. Set in and around Denver, Colorado and focusing on the stories of Indigenous Latinas, the world of Sabrina & Corina is one of desert vistas, desert grit, and desert women whose strength could topple the surrounding mountains. The relationships of the sisters, cousins, and friends in these stories are tender and intimate. Fajardo-Anstine brings us close to her characters and their histories, families, desires, and despairs. This is the kind of collection I want to give my best friend, my mom, my aunts, my female cousins. It celebrates female bonds and friendship even as it highlights the struggles of those same relationships and the pressures of the wild forces of love, economics, family ties, and the women’s own dreams. Tender, beautiful, and completely enveloping, this collection makes me very excited for Fajardo-Anstine’s first novel (also forthcoming from One World).


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Penguin Press, June 4
I’m going to say something that might get me in trouble here: poets are perfect novelists. Okay, okay, I’ll back off the grand and controversial generalizations, fine, but that’s how I felt reading Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Vuong’s debut poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, was one of the most talked about books of 2017 and earned Vuong the T. S. Eliot Prize and a Whiting Award. Born outside of Saigon, Vuong and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a child. The reconciliation of one family’s Vietnamese past with their American present is at the core of this astounding new story, in which the horrors of war and addiction mix up with a mother’s love and a young man’s sexual awakening in prose that sings as it slashes across the page. There is a vitality in this language that buckles the reader to hard history while transcending the violence, giving us something more, something beautiful, a lily and a rose and young love, a way out of grief, all in the intimate form of a letter to a mother from her son. The sentences haunt me; their spectacular, searing images stopped me on the page and demanded I read them again, and then again. This is an absolutely remarkable work. I cannot wait for everyone to read it.


Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
Tin House Books, June 4
Something strange has happened since I read Arnett’s debut novel. All of a sudden, taxidermy is EVERYWHERE. There’s a taxidermy tiger at a local gift shop wearing a Santa hat and suggesting itself for the holidays. It’s the topic of overheard conversations I immediately butt into to say, “I just read a novel about taxidermy!” Which is misleading: Mostly Dead Things isn’t only about taxidermy, though it does provide a civilian with plenty of behind-the-scenes tips and tricks for stuffing and posing every kind of animal, from trout to bucks to peacocks. The story is told from the perspective of a Florida taxidermist, the daughter of another taxidermist who, in the opening pages of this novel, has taken his own life in the very same workshop where he has taught his daughter his trade. This vivid, if macabre, opening sets readers up for a funny, unexpected, and moving story about a daughter trying to find her way through grief, through the accumulation of years of strained family dynamics, and to the other side of the biggest heartbreak of her life, the loss of the woman she has devoted the majority of her life to loving. Arnett is immensely talented at sliding her pen under the skin of heartache and delivering its tendons, its sinews, and the heart still beating inside. If you like weird, and certainly if you have a fondness for taxidermy, make this your first summer read.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Doubleday, July 16
In his first novel since Underground Railroad, Whitehead brings readers to Nickel, a juvenile detention center in 1960s Florida, a “reform” school that is a catchall for young men marked as wayward or criminal. Segregated, sinister, and devastating in its abuse, Nickel turns out young men permanently scarred by its prison-like rigidity and severe punishment, if it lets them go at all. Whitehead portrays Nickel through the eyes of Elwood Curtis, a bookish teenager lit up by the intellectual and inspiring work of Dr. Martin Luther King. As he navigates the harsh terms of his new world at Nickel, readers meet the other boys Elwood lives with, works with, and befriends, their fates in Nickel and beyond bent by the will of the merciless, terrifying superintendent and staff. The novel is based on the true story of a reform school in Florida that operated for more than 100 years, and Whitehead provides many resources at the end of the book for learning more. In sharing this history, Whitehead spotlights the irreparable harm and racial bias of American justice and the prison system, while also highlighting the persevering light and hope of the Civil Rights movement. History is never so far away as we think it is. Once again, Colson Whitehead puts an unflinching depiction of American truth in our hands.


Cover not yet revealed! 

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg
October 22, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
You’re going to have to wait until the end of October for two things that I promise are worth your devoted patience: the 2019 Texas Book Festival and Jami Attenberg’s next novel. In All This Could Be Yours, the Tuchmans, a dysfunctional family if there ever was one, gather from their respective corners of the country to meet at the deathbed of their patriarch, an unequivocally reprehensible human being named Victor whose criminal life has left mystery, shame, betrayal and psychological complexes in his wake. As his daughter seeks answers from her mother, and his wife tracks her steps around the hospital floor, and his son bottoms out in Los Angeles, and his daughter-in-law buys another tube of lipstick to cope with her choices, we see the close weave of deep family reckoning. One of my favorite elements of this novel is its setting: New Orleans, where Attenberg lives. The brilliance of this story is its fluid point of view, the way it dips in and out of the perspectives of the ticket takers, waiters, nurses, bartenders, and other people who make up the city and cast into relief the Tuchman’s chaotic devolution. This novel lives and breathes the city as it tells the memorable story of one family playing taps inside its borders.


The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
The Heavens by Sandra Newman
Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T. Kira Madden
Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Spectators by Jennifer DuBois
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry
Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer
The Old Drift: A Novel by Namwali Serpell

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Soft Science by Franny Choi
Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix
Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison Rollins
1919 by Eve L. Ewing
The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan


An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
Keith Carter: Fifty Years by Keith Carter
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
Unquiet by Linn Ullmann
Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
The Current: A Novel by Tim Johnston
The Falconer: A Novel by Dana Czapnik
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

The Hundred Wells of Salaga: A Novel by Ayesha Harruna Attah
Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib
Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson
A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers
edited by Victor LaValle
Where Reasons End: A Novel by Yiyun Li
American Pop: A Novel by Snowden Wright
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
Vacuum in the Dark: A Novel by Jen Beagin
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Survival Math: Notes On An All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
The White Card: A Play by Claudia Rankine
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
The River: A Novel by Peter Heller
Blood Sisters by Kim Yideum, translated by Ji yoon Lee

The Gulf: A Novel by Belle Boggs
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott
American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley
If I Had Two Lives by Abigail Rosewood
Miracle Creek: A Novel by Angie Kim
Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen Ellis
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
The Unpassing: A Novel
by Chia-Chia Lin
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
Rules for Visiting: A Novel by Jessica Francis Kane
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
Lanny: A Novel by Max Porter
Tears of the Trufflepig: A Novel by Fernando Flores
Biloxi: A Novel by Mary Miller
Where We Come From: A Novel by Oscar Cásares
Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum

Patsy: A Novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn
The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith
In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through by T Fleischmann

The Need by Helen Phillips
Speaking of Summer: A Novel by Kalisha Buckhanon
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat
The World Doesn’t Require You: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott
Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World
edited by Zahra Hankir
Inland by Téa Obreht

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Grand Union by Zadie Smith
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
In The Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado


Book Club Guide to Texas Book Fest

Calling all book clubs! The Texas Book Festival is a great opportunity to discover your group’s next big read and to meet the authors you’ve been reading and discussing all year. This year, we’ve curated several sessions with book clubs in mind. Of course, we hope you’ll join us at EVERY session this year (and as soon as you figure out the human cloning technology to make this possible, please do let us know). All of these sessions are FREE and open to the public. The authors will sign copies of their books immediately afterwards. 



Sunday, November 5 3:00-4:00
Bring Your Book Club!

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweenty, Rumaan Alam, Amita Trasi
Location: Omni Hotel Ballroom
Bring your book club to the Festival to meet authors Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (The Nest), Rumaan Alam (Rich and Pretty) and Amita Trasi (The Color of Our Sky) as they discuss their new work. With wit, style, and characters you won’t stop discussing, these authors explore family, friendship, self-discovery and more in page-turning stories you’ll be eager to share.



Saturday, November 4 10:30-11:15
Family Forms
Amanda Eyre Ward and Emily Robbins

Moderated by Jardine Libaire
Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.016
The boundaries of love are tested in new novels by Texas writers Amanda Eyre Ward (The Nearness of You) and Emily Robbins (A Word for Love). From surrogate parenting to being a third party witness to a clandestine affair, Ward and Robbins discuss the particular nature of love just to the side of center and what draws them to write about the gray areas of human family and connection.



Saturday, November 4 11:00-11:45
Thank You For Being A Friend
Lisa Ko and Rakesh Satyal

Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.026
Sustaining friendships are at the centers of new novels by Lisa Ko (The Leavers) and Rakesh Satyal (No One Can Pronounce My Name). The friendships formed by characters as they immigrate to America and acclimate to life in New York and Cleveland become fundamental to their development and to the story. Join Ko and Satyal as they discuss writing foundational friendships.




Saturday, November 4 11:30-12:15
A Piece of The World
Christina Baker Kline and Sarah Bird

Location: Omni Hotel Ballroom
Celebrated Texas writer Sarah Bird sits down with Christina Baker Kline, friend and author of the mega-bestselling book club favorite, Orphan Train Girl, to discuss following up on her phenomenal success, the joys of the writing life, and Kline’s stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, A Piece of the World.





Saturday, November 4 12:15-1:00
Vintage Writers on Reading
Will Schwalbe and Ariel Lawhon

Location: Capitol Auditorium
An intimate seminar for readers interested in the behind the scenes of being a writer. William Schwalbe (Books for Living) and Ariel Lawhon (Flight of Dreams) will talk about their respective reading and writing habits. Special tote bags with complimentary advanced readers copies will be handed out!





Saturday, November 4 12:15-1:00
Family History, Family Destiny
Min Jin Lee and Hala Alyan
Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.014
Setting their new novels against the backdrop of very different, very contentious points in history, Min Jin Lee (Pachinko), Hala Alyan (Salt Houses) and Rodrigo Hasbún (Affections) open up generational stories of displacement and destiny in Korea, Kuwait City, Bolivia and beyond. Join them as they discuss how political forces shaped the lives, structures and fates of their characters and how history drew each of them to the page.




Saturday, November 4 2:15-3:00
Stephanie Powell Watts and C. Morgan Babst

Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.016
What does it mean to come home again when home has been ravaged by a hurricane, or family neglect, or poverty, or time? What would constitute home then? In new novels by C. Morgan Babst (The Floating World) and Stephanie Powell Watts (No One Is Coming to Save Us), characters learn that not all homecomings are created equal. Join them as they discuss writing about what comes after the storm of time.





Sunday, November 4 1:30-2:15
Unexpected Connection

Rachel Kadish and Jessica Shattuck in Conversation
Location: Omni Hotel Ballroom
Soon after meeting in a Boston writers’ group, Rachel Kadish (The Weight of Ink) and Jessica Shattuck (The Women in the Castle) learned that they shared an unexpected bond: Kadish’s grandparents were Holocaust survivors; Shattuck’s were members of the Nazi party. Join them as they discuss their friendship, the questions they asked one another, and how their family histories informed their new historical novels–and offer context for current event.




Sunday, November 5 2:00-2:45
It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s…. My Family?
Ladee Hubbard and Daryl Gregory
Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.012

You think your family is strange? Master storytellers Ladee Hubbard (The Talented Ribkins) and Daryl Gregory (Spoonbenders) introduce us to vastly different families with talents the likes of which you’ve never seen. But these powers are not all they’re cracked up to be. These authors will challenge what you think you know about human limitations and the strength of human spirit.




Sunday, November 5 11:00-11:45
Unraveling WWII
Cristina García
Location: Capitol Extension Room 2.036
Cristina García, bestselling author of the classic Dreaming in Cuban and finalist for the National Book Award, talks with author Natalia Sylvester about García’s new novel, Here in Berlin. This portrait of a city through snapshots excavates the stories and ghosts of contemporary Berlin, still pulsing with its past and WWII.






Browse More TBF Book Club Books!



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!

From the Lit Director Desk: What I’m Reading

IMG_9937I’ve been to some very cold places this year in the name of books. 


The beginning of February saw me return from one book conference in time to promptly turn around and fly out to another book conference. I had just enough time to empty my suitcase of one load of books and make room for another. (Pity me, I know. Play the world’s smallest violins. My dishes were dirty for weeks! The cat did not learn how to do laundry in my absence!)

The great thing about flying in airplanes is that I’m too terrified to look out the window (the ground is so far away) or into the faces of my fellow passengers (which one of these people will be the one to fix the mask over my face when this steel machine goes down???) so I keep my head down and read. And drink tiny little bottles of airplane wine. And hope for the best. I read quite a lot this month. Here are a few of the books that stood out to me. There have been tons of great new books to read and 2017 has barely begun. Get to a bookstore! Browse around! There are good books afoot!


right way to be

The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability
edited by Sheila Black, Michael Northen and Annabelle Hayse

Available now! // Cinco Puntos Press

I’m so grateful to Cinco Puntos Press for sending this beautiful anthology my way. Twenty-seven writers present stories about “disability” in all ways the word can be defined. This is the first time – the first time – that short fiction by writers with disabilities, featuring disabled characters, has been anthologized. In addition to unfolding underrepresented perspectives, this book is just chock full of beautiful, lyrical writing. I am mesmerized, story to story. I’m a fan of anthologies in general and love being able to flip between a panoply of voices and styles between two covers. I’m thrilled to have this collection on my shelf.



Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
On sale May 16 // Transit Books

I’ve just begun this sweeping story of family, inheritance and history by Ugandan novelist and short story writer Makumbi. Longlisted for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Debut African Fiction, Transit Books is publishing this debut novel in the US in May. Moving through time, it follows the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan across generations. I’m really getting into the layers of Kintu Kidda’s journey and family life early on in the book, in the section set in 1750 in Buddu Province, Buganda. The tension of ritual, of tradition adhered to, subverted and manipulated, runs through Kintu’s large family and underscores the violent political turmoil incited by the region’s royalty. The ways in which the characters are bound to one another by blood, tradition, social norms, expectation, love and friendship create a rich and engaging emotional plot. There’s a lot more of this story to come, which is amazing, because Makumbi has already packed so much into the first 100 pages. This book already feels like several novels in one.


we are never meeting

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby
On sale May 30 // Vintage

Hallelujah, all praise be, our year is saved thanks to Samantha Irby. This collection of ab-so-lute-ly hilarious essays reads like a long, wine-laced night with the good friend with whom you can discuss all of your totally honest and unpopular opinions about sex, life, love, mental health, aging, family, money, work, and being alive in a seriously less-than-perfect world. Irby is by turns irascible and endearing, self-deprecating and self-assured. In fashioning herself as an anti-hero with a penchant for cheap and dirty meals, doomed relationships and a happy life of cranky spinsterhood, Irby cracks sharp jokes with one hand while revealing poignant emotional vulnerability with the other. I don’t know whether or not it’s a good idea to glean dating advice from this book, but, I have to say, I have found her stories of romance and relationship-building both informative and reassuring. (Date someone who is the opposite of you, that person will know how to pack real road trip snacks; I will remember this advice forever.) If you’re shy and prefer to avoid attention in public, do not read this book outside of your home. You will laugh out loud, a lot, and people will look at you. I also do not recommend attempting to read this book at the gym. Especially don’t try to read the essay about exercising while you are trying to exercise. Take it from me: you cannot laugh this hard and elliptical at the same time. Samantha Irby is also the author of the essay collection Meaty and writes this blog over here.


goodbye vitamin

Goodbye Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong
On Sale July 11 // Henry Holt and Co.

I ate this book right up. Yes, it has a tremendous cover, a cover that, at thirty-almost-six years old, intimidated me just a smidge. Am I hip enough to read this book?! Embrace the lemons, my friends, and get to page one, because you’ll forget yourself and be hooked straight away. This book is all humor and big, big heart. Told in dated entries that begin on December 26, it’s the story of Ruth Young, a thirty year old woman recovering from major heartbreak in her parents’ home, where she stays on after Christmas to help her mother manage her father’s rapidly developing Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s and broken hearts sound like a hoot, I know, but I promise, Khong delivers the hard stuff of heartache and health in memorable characters and tender, hilarious situations. This book has some of that oddball Miranda July dark humor I enjoy, with notes of Palahniuk’s ‘broken humans in extreme but somehow functioning and believable circumstances’ style, along with some deadpan emotional lines that punched me right in my Amy Hempel heart. As Ruth comes to terms with her parents’ marriage, her relationship with her father and family, and her own messy emotions, the story lifts right off the page and soars with hope. Khong was executive editor of Lucky Peach and is also the author of All About Eggs: Everything We Know About the World’s Most Important Food. This book will be called the perfect summer read, because it comes out in July, but, I promise, you’ll love it any time of year.


abandon-me separation-kitamura dear-friend

New Books On Shelves Now That I Really Enjoyed:

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
Why I Am Not A Feminist by Jessica Crispin
Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


exit-west all-grown-up sorry to disrupt the peace

Books to Look for in March: 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
White Tears by Hari Kunzru
South and West: From A Notebook by Joan Didion
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace : A Novel by Patty Yumi Cottrell
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hanna Tinti

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.