Frontlist | Texas city’s storied book festival returns virtually with all-star author lineup

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More than 200 authors, including a couple from Dallas-Fort Worth, are taking part in the 2021 virtual San Antonio Book Festival. On March 9, organizers revealed the full details behind this year’s celebration, which includes more than 100 sessions and special lit-themed events.

The weekend festivities take place April 9-11, and will allow attendees a chance to engage with celebrated authors from across the city, state, and nation. Registration is free and can be done here.

North Texas authors joining this year’s virtual San Antonio Book Fest are Dallas’ Aaron E. Sánchez (Homeland: Ethnic Mexican Belonging Since 1900, Volume 2) and Fort Worth’s Gregg Cantrell (The People’s Revolt: Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism).

Among the literary stars participating are Walter Isaacson (The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, the Future of the Human Race); Kristin Hannah (The Four Winds); Jeff VanderMeer (Hummingbird Salamander); Gary Paulsen (Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood); Annette Gordon-Reed (On Juneteenth); Adam Silvera (Infinity Reaper: Infinity Cycle, 2); Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, hosts of the NPR’s “Wow in the World” and co-authors of Wow in the World: The How and Wow of the Human Body: From Your Tongue to Your Toes and All the Guts in Between; Nic Stone (Dear Justyce); and poet Martín Espada (Floaters: Poems), who will be in conversation with Luis Alberto Urrea, a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame and best-selling author.

Other notables making an appearance: Emily V. GordonNikole Hannah-JonesSamantha IrbyPiper KermanTed FlatoRoy BensonElizabeth McKracken, and Meg Wolitzer.

The weekend-long celebration will also feature a series of special events, including Lit Crawl, “a virtual block party for books and everyone who loves to read them.”

Another highlight is the debut of Sandra Cisneros Presents, a new program where the acclaimed writer introduces four of her favorite writers to festival audiences. Among Cisneros’ accolades are the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the National Medal of the Arts, which was awarded to her by President Obama in 2016. This year, the author will feature Diana Marie Delgado, John Olivares Espinoza, Joe Jiménez, and Christine Granados as part of the inaugural Sandra Cisneros Presents.

Additional sessions are available for teens, adults, and children, and a full list can be found here. Spotlighted events include:

  • Revolutionary Women of Texas and Mexico examining the role of women in the Mexican Revolution with co-editor Kathy Sosa, contributors Ellen Riojas Clark and Cynthia E. Orozco, and moderator Norma E. Cantú.
  • Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty, an in-depth look at Maurice Chammah’s debut book.
  • Nic Stone in Conversation with J. Elle, a discussion with two of the most successful young adult authors working today.

“When I look at this year’s book festival lineup and programming, the word that comes to mind is ‘abundance,’” said Lilly Gonzalez, SABF’s executive director. “Longtime fans will find comfort in the wealth of options that our online edition offers. Plus it’s reassuring to know that amid everything that’s happened, art is still thriving. It’s reason enough for us to come together, even if that’s via our computer screens this year.”

This year’s festival does come with one big change: its official bookseller. Locally owned Nowhere Bookshop has taken over as the festival’s book purveyor.

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