Frontlist | San Antonio Book Festival 2021 will feature Walter Isaacson, Sandra Cisneros, Jeff VanderMeer, Nic Stone
The San Antonio Book Festival will be presenting more than 200 authors from all over the country, including such big names as Sandra Cisneros, Walter Isaacson, Nic Stone and Kristin Hannah.
“It’s more writers than we’ve ever had before, and it’s more headliners, more stars, than before,” said Clay Smith, the festival’s literary director.
The lineup for the ninth annual festival, which will be virtual, was announced Tuesday morning. The free festival will take place April 9-11; registration is required and is available at sabookfestival.org.
Last year’s festival was canceled just a few weeks before it was to take place because of the pandemic.
“A pessimist would say we, as a staff and volunteers, we spent an entire year on it, and then it was canceled; beyond all that, there are all these writers who really suffered trying to put out their books last year. A pessimist would say it’s a heartbreak,” Smith said. “The optimist would say that we really had an entire year to see how the Texas Book Festival and the Portland Book Festival and the Miami Book Fair did it. And that has been good, being able to watch and see how they did it.”
Since the event is rooted in new books and new ideas, Smith said, very few authors invited last year carried over to this year. One exception is the guest of honor for the Book Appétit Literary Feast, the festival’s annual fundraiser. Novelist Amor Towles, who was slated to headline last year, will fill that role this year. Towles is known for the best-sellers “Rules of Civility” and “A Gentleman in Moscow.”
The virtual event starts at 11:30 a.m. April 8. Some individual tickets are available for $250 at sabookfestival.org.
Two events that had been slated to make their debut last year will be introduced this year. Organizers invited Cisneros to select and chat with four writers she considers worthy of attention for Sandra Cisneros Presents. She chose Christine Granados, author of “Fight Like a Man and Other Stories We Tell Our Children”; John Oliveres Espinoza, author of “The Date Fruit Elegies”; Diana Marie Delgado, author of “Tracing the Horse”; and Joe Jiménez, author of “Rattlesnake Allegory.”
“To her credit, she didn’t change the writers that she was going to feature last year,” said Smith, adding that the plan is for Sandra Cisneros Presents to be a regular part of the festival going forward.
The other new event is the San Antonio edition of Lit Crawl, a typically ambulatory event that takes place all over the globe and is designed to bring literature into unexpected places. The roving aspect will be missing, but the basic concept is the same, Smith said. Three events are planned, including a chat with contributors to the anthology “Notes from the Bathroom Line: A Conversation with the Funniest Women in Comedy.” And there will be a cocktail demonstration for those who would like to drink along at home.
There will be three ticketed discussions for which the fee covers cost and delivery of the books being discussed, Smith said. Those discussions feature Isaacson, whose latest nonfiction book is “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race”; Hannah, whose new book is “The Four Winds,” a story set in the panhandle during the Depression; and Jeff VanderMeer, author of the science fiction novel “Annihilation,” whose new novel “Hummingbird Salamander” will be released April 6.
Isaacson will speak with science journalist Shraddha Chakradhar; Hannah will be chatting with Meg Wolitzer, whose latest novel is “The Female Persuasion”; and VanderMeer will be talking with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of “Mexican Gothic.”
Other buzz-worthy discussions planned include one between poet Martín Espada and Luis Alberto Urrea, a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame whose most recent novel is “The House of Broken Angels”; and one between Maurice Chammah, author of “Let the Lord Sort Them Out: The Rise and the Fall of the Death Penalty,” and Piper Kerman, who wrote about her own experience in prison in “Orange is the New Black.” The book was the basis for the acclaimed Netflix series of the same name.
Other high-profile authors taking part are Stone, who recently published “Dear Justyce,” the sequel to her best-selling YA novel “Dear Martin”; Charles Yu, who won the National Book Award for his latest novel, “Interior Chinatown”; and San Antonio-based Jenny Lawson, whose new memoir is “Broken (in the best possible way).”
Lawson also is the owner of Nowhere Bookshop, which is the official book shop of the festival this year, replacing Barnes & Noble.
This will be the first year the festival is teaming up with San Antonio-based BarbacoaApparel for an official T-shirt, which depicts an open to-go container filled with beans, rice and a book titled “Breakfast Tacos of Champions.” It is available for pre-order for $20 now at barbacoapparel.com.