Schedule set for 2019 Iowa City Book Festival, Oct. 1-6

The Iowa City Book Festival’s 11th year will feature a mix of authors, panel discussions, workshops, a book fair and more, with programming that blends the best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

The festival will be held from Oct. 1-6, with most events at various locations throughout downtown Iowa City. Long a showcase for collaborations with other area organizations, this year’s festival partners include the International Writing Program, the One Community One Book program, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, the Iowa Writers’ House and more.

The festival will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Coralville Public Library with presentation of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize to poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady. The prize, sponsored by the City of Coralville, 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. Derricotte and Eady co-founded Cave Canem in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape.

On Wednesday, the festival welcomes New York Times bestselling mystery novelist John Sandford. The Cedar Rapids native and University of Iowa graduate is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of 40 novels, including 29 in the Lucas Davenport “Prey” series, and 11 in the Virgil Flowers series. Sanford will discuss the latest in the Flowers series, Bloody Genius, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

Also Wednesday, the festival welcomes writer, activist and academic Raj Patel. Best-known for the book Stuffed and Starved, the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System, Patel returns to discuss his latest work, History of the World in 7 Cheap Things. He also will show rough cuts from his latest documentary film, a story of community activists from one of the world’s poorest countries traveling the U.S. to talk to farmers, advocates and policymakers about climate change. Patel’s talk, presented by the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2, at the Englert Theatre. It is free and open to the public.

Thursday features two University of Iowa Ida Beam lecturers. James Geary, deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and editor of Nieman Reports, will present “Juggling Aphorisms,” based on  his latest book, Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It. He will appear at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 3, at Shambaugh Auditorium in the UI Main Library. Geary also will read at the UI’s English-Philosophy Building at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4

Also Thursday is a reading and presentation by Jamaican poet and novelist Kei Miller, an Ida Beam scholar visiting the UI’s International Writing Program. Miller is the author of three novels, several poetry collections, and Fear of Stones and Other Stories, which was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book. He will present at 7 p.m. on Oct. 3, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library

Friday is highlighted by a presentation by Lauren Markham, author of The Far Away Brothers. Markham’s book, which tells of the harrowing journey Salvadoran twins Ernesto and Raúl Flores take to illegally immigrate to the U.S. to escape violence in their home country. The book is this year’s selection for the UI’s Center for Human Rights “One Community One Book” program. Markham will speak at 7 p.m. in 240 Art Building West.

Each year, the festival features the public reading of a classic work of literature with supporting programming throughout the week. From Monday, Sept. 30, through Friday, Oct. 4, volunteers will read Leo Tolstoy’s classic War & Peace aloud in its entirety. The reading will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the Pedestrian Mall stage outside the Graduate hotel. Other programming, including partnerships with the Stanley Museum of Art, Special Collections at the UI Main Library, a screening of the classic 1966 film at FilmScene, and more will be a part of the celebration throughout the festival and beyond.

Saturday, Oct.5, the biggest day of programming, will feature dozens of events including readings, panel discussions, a book fair and more.

Other Saturday highlights include:

  • A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Iowa Press. Authors of current UI Press books will present, including Kendra Allen, Paula Becker, and Don Waters.
  • Christina Ward, author of American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O, will speak about her book, followed by a sampling of some of the infamous recipes by the Iowa City group Historic Foodies. Special Collections at the UI Main Library also will be showcasing several pieces from the Szathmary Culinary Collection.
  • A celebration marking the retirement of longtime UI Writers’ Workshop administrator Connie Brothers will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, in Macbride Auditorium.
  • A panel discussion on immigration featuring authors from the second volume of the Iowa Writers’ House project We the Interwoven and Lauren Markham will be held on Saturday, Oct. 4.

The festival closes Sunday with a full day of events that include the start of a week’s worth of screenings of a new digital restoration of Sergei Bondarchuk’s eight-hour adaptation of War & Peace at FilmScene. Also on the Sunday schedule is a writing workshop presented in partnership the University of Iowa’s Center for Teaching, readings, and more.

Other than film screenings at FilmScene, all festival events are free and open to the public.

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