Iowa City Book Festival to celebrate international connections

The ninth Iowa City Book Festival schedule will feature a variety of authors from around the country and around the globe as we celebrate books and writing through a number of strong partnerships with community groups. The festival, produced by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, will be held Oct. 8-15, 2017.

The festival – the longest to date – begins on Sunday, Oct. 8, with G. Willow Wilson. The event, in partnership with Hancher and the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, will be held at 2 p.m. in Hancher Auditorium, and is free and open to the public. Wilson, who addresses pressing issues including religious intolerance and gender politics in her work, has published in fiction, nonfiction, and comics. An American convert to Islam, she recounts time spent in Egypt during the waning day of the Mubarak regime, in her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque. The book is the 2017 selection for the One Community, One Book program sponsored by the Center for Human Rights.

The festival then moves to a multi-day celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). The IWP is best known for the fall residency that brings writers from around the world to Iowa City. Since 1967, more than 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have been in residence at the UI. The festival will feature readings by IWP guests at Prairie Lights Books on Monday, Oct. 9, and Tuesday, Oct. 10, as well as panel discussions among this year’s resident writers on Tuesday through Saturday.

Wednesday brings fun and politics into the mix with a visit by the authors of The Liberal Redneck Manifesto, comedians Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, and Drew Morgan. Their “WellRED Comedy Tour” comes to the Englert in partnership with the Tuesday Agency. Tickets are on sale starting Aug. 11 at

Thursday at the festival features presentation of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize to writer Alexander Chee. The prize honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts. Chee is the sixth writer to win the award. He will receive the award at an event at 7 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library. He will be joined in conversation by Iowa City novelist Garth Greenwell.

Other highlights include:

  • This year’s read-aloud classic novel is Moby Dick, which will be read from the steps of the Old Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Wednesday, Oct. 11, and from under the giant whale skeleton in Macbride Hall on Thursday, Oct. 12. Information about times and ways to participate will be posted soon at
  • Poet Rafael Campo, keynote speaker for the University of Iowa’s The Examined Life Conference, will speak and read from his work at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers.
  • The annual Day in the City of Literature returns on Sunday, Oct. 15, when local and regional writers will hold readings hosted at area businesses and other non-traditional venues.

Among the authors who will appear at the festival are fiction favorites and writers tackling a number of fascinating nonfiction subjects. Highlights include:

  • Nathan Englander, a University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and multi prize winning author, will read from and discuss his latest novel, Dinner at the Center of the Earth. He will be joined by fellow novelist, Chris Adrian.
  • Donald Ray Pollock, whose Southern Gothic novels and stories have earned wide acclaim, will read from his latest novel, The Heavenly Table.
  • Will Bardenwerper will read from his book, The Prisoner in His Palace, which tells of the U.S. soldiers who guarded Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in his final days, a book of which Kirkus says, “In skin-crawling detail, the author effectively captures a unique time and place in an engrossing history.”
  • Iowa City writer Lori Erickson will read from Holy Rover, a book that chronicles her travels as a travel writer specializing in holy sites, weaving a personal narrative with descriptions of a dozen pilgrimages.

Other authors scheduled to appear include Ted Genoways (This Blessed Earth), Melissa Fraterrigo (Glory Days), Jennifer Colville (Elegies for Uncanny Girls), Steve Paul (Hemingway at Eighteen), Julia Fiero (Gypsy Moth Summer) and many more.

Saturday also will feature a book fair on the downtown Pedestrian Mall, panel discussions, workshops and more.

Other than the WellRED Comedy event, all festival events announced to date are free and open to the public.

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One Response to “Iowa City Book Festival to celebrate international connections”

  1. Francis Hamit says:

    I m as graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and a former resident of Iowa City as well as the author of several books. I am thinking of going back to Iowa City this fall to do some further research for my memoir. Is there room on your program for me to make a presentation or a way to sell my books there?


    Francis Hamit
    Sherman Oaks, California