The 33rd Annual Southern Festival of Books: An Online Celebration of the Written Word is happening online with programming kicking off Tuesday. Events will be streaming live until Oct. 8 and all-day programming will take place on Oct. 9 and 10.
Viewers can tune into live author sessions for free through the festival’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. This year’s festival features an acclaimed lineup of authors across a spectrum of genres, including fiction, poetry, mystery, nonfiction and more, offering something for everyone.
The following events that are scheduled in person at private venues with partner organizations are as follows:
• Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. CT: Sharon Cameron and J.T. Ellison at Parnassus Books
• Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. CT: Jess Walter at Parnassus Books
• Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m. CT: Daniel de Visé at the National Museum of African-American Music
• Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. CT: Alix Harrow at Parnassus Books
Here are the top picks from this virtual festival:
This year’s festival has never been more accessible, with booklovers from across the state and country able to tune into live author sessions and connect with fellow readers. Virtual festival-goers will be able to watch authors read from and discuss their works with their peers and engage in conversation with fellow booklovers on the festival’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
Hear from The New York Times and national bestselling authors, including:
• Former Governor Bill Haslam, Faithful Presence: The Promise and Peril of Faith in the Public Square: Bill Haslam served as the 49th Governor of Tennessee from 2011 to 2019 and previously served as the 67th mayor of Knoxville. His first book Faithful Presence: The Promise and Peril of Faith in the Public Square explores the role of faith in politics.
o Presenting Oct. 10 at 1:15 p.m. CT
• Daniel de Visé, King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King: Daniel de Visé’s 23-year career includes terms at The Washington Post and Miami Herald. His fourth book King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King debuts in October and is the first full and authoritative biography of the musical and cultural legend.
o Presenting Oct. 5 at the National Museum of African American Music as part of live programming with community partners leading up to the in-person event happening that weekend.
• Paula McLain, When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel: Paula McLain is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed The Paris Wife.
o Presenting Oct. 10 at noon CT
• Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander: Jeff VanderMeer is a New York Times bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy and a three-time Fantasy World Award winner. He frequently speaks about issues related to climate change and storytelling and his latest work Hummingbird Salamander has been optioned by Netflix.
o Presenting Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. CT
• Rickie Lee Jones, Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour: Two-time Grammy award winner Rickie Lee Jones debuts Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour, an intimate memoir covering her life and music career that spans five decades.
o Presenting Oct. 9 with NPR music critic Ann Powers at 2:15 p.m. CT
Race, immigration, privilege and prejudice are the focus of a wide array of books at this year’s festival. Here are a few of our favorites appearing at this year’s festival:
• Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be, Nichole Perkins: Tennessee native Nichole Perkins’ Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be, explores the ways pop culture shaped her existence as a Black woman – and has been included on several “Best Books of 2021” lists by the Washington Post, Fortune, Bustle, NYLON, Buzzfeed, and Slate among others.
o Presenting Oct. 9 at 4:15 p.m. CT
• Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir, Brian Broome: Poet and screenwriter Brian Broome is a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir recounts his early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy coming to terms with his sexuality.
o Presenting Oct. 9 at 4:15 p.m. CT
• The Prophets, Robert Jones Jr.: Robert Jones Jr. is the creator and curator of the social justice social media community Son of Baldwin, and was announced a 2021 National Book Award finalist in Nonfiction. The Prophets is his debut novel.
o Presenting Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. CT
Parents looking for new reads for their kids can tune into sessions from children’s and Young Adult authors including:
• Jason Reynolds, Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You: Jason Reynolds is an author of novels and poetry for young adult and middle-grade audiences, including Ghost, a National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, and Look Both Ways, a Carnegie Medal winner. Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You is his most recent work.
o Presenting Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. CT
• Stephen Pastis, Trubble Town #1: Stephan Pastis is a cartoonist and author of children’s books including It's the End When I Say It's the End, which was on The New York Times bestseller list for children’s middle grade books.
o Presenting Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. CT
• Gayle Forman, Frankie and Bug: Gayle Forman is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, Elle, The Nation and Time. Frankie and Bug is her middle grade debut.
o Presenting Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. CT
For a complete list of all authors and the festival schedule, visit www.sofestofbooks.org.