Humanities Tennessee today announced the initial lineup of award-winning, bestselling authors who will headline the 35th Annual Southern Festival of Books, taking place in person at Bicentennial Mall, the Tennessee State Museum and Tennessee State Library Oct. 21-22, 2023.
The time-honored annual event will be open to the public 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, October 21, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, October 22, for panel sessions, discussions, and readings from a wide variety of genres including fiction and nonfiction, young adult literature, poetry, science fiction, and mystery. Featured festival books will be available for purchase and can be signed by authors throughout the weekend. Parnassus Books is the festival bookseller.
For the first time in the festival’s history, Friday, October 20, will be a designated Student Day, welcoming 1,000 students from Davidson County schools for author meet-and-greets, including marquee YA and adult novelist Carl Hiaasen, plus book giveaways and educational programming. A series of community events will take place October 15-19, leading up to the festival. These will include: a National Black Poetry Day event, presented by Po’ Boys and Poets in East Park on Sunday, October 15; a spoken-word workshop with TSU students conducted by poet Terrance Hayes, followed by a public reading, discussion and book signing on Wednesday, October 18; and a ticketed author talk with science fiction writer John Scalzi at Parnassus Books on Thursday, October 19.
The festival weekend will feature appearances from approximately 150 authors, offering attendees the opportunity to connect with their favorite writers through a series of live events, panels, book signings and more. In addition to Hiaasen, Hayes, and Scalzi, the 2023 roster includes Jefferson Cowie, Timothy Egan, Tracy Kidder, Chrissy Metz, Drew Gilpin Faust, Ben Fountain, Mark Greaney, Gary Gulman, Megan Miranda, Ann Patchett, Margaret Renkl, Etaf Rum and Lee Smith, among others.
“The 2023 festival is a milestone year for us, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Southern Festival of Books and move to an incredible new location at Bicentennial Mall,” said Humanities Tennessee Executive Director Tim Henderson. “We are once again honored to welcome so many talented and respected authors as we gather thousands of book lovers for the ultimate celebration of the written word.”
Major appearances and events for the 2023 Southern Festival of Books will include:
- CARL HIAASEN (Wrecker):
- TERRANCE HAYES (So To Speak (Penguin Poets)):
- JOHN SCALZI (Starter Villain):
- JEFFERSON COWIE (Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power):
- TIMOTHY EGAN (A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America):
- TRACY KIDDER (Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to Homeless):
- CHRISSY METZ (When I Talk to God, I Talk About You):
- DREW GILPIN FAUST (Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury):
- BEN FOUNTAIN (Devil Makes There: A Novel):
- MARK GREANEY (Burner: A Gray Man Novel):
- GARY GULMAN (Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the ’80s):
- MEGAN MIRANDA (The Only Survivors):
- ANN PATCHETT (Tom Lake):
- MARGARET RENKL (The Comfort of Crows):
- ETAF RUM (Evil Eye):
- LEE SMITH (Silver Alert):
Local authors of note, in addition to those mentioned above, include longtime local journalists Bill Carey and Tim Ghianni, architect Kem Hinton, restaurateur Randy Rayburn, novelist and writing coach Rea Frey, historian Rachel Louise Martin, poet Mark Jarman, musician Kevin Griffin, and novelist Lauren Thoman.
For a full lineup of festival authors, visit sofestofbooks.org. Additional authors and other special announcements will be added to the list every Friday.
In addition to 75 sessions over two days, the festival also features 60 vendors and food trucks, as well as three performance stages. A music stage focuses on the incredible talent of the Nashville music community, and the performing arts stage offers theater, spoken word, and poetry throughout the weekend. The festival children’s stage and activity center features authors, musicians, performers, crafts, character costumes, and parties celebrating beloved children’s books.
The always popular Authors in the Round Dinner, co-chaired by Laura Smith and LoLita Toney, will be held on Friday, October 20, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Authors in the Round, which allows guests to dine alongside 40 regionally and nationally known authors, is the festival’s signature fundraiser, ensuring that Humanities Tennessee can present the annual festival free of charge.