Programs and Panels at the National Book Festival

Say it Rah-shay By Aug 11, 2015 No Comments

Many fascinating thematic programs and panel discussions will be offered throughout the Library of Congress National Book Festival Saturday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (doors open at 9 a.m.). They will range from discussions on the global economy and immigration to Latin American literature and an international circus for kids.



Children’s pavilion

Kate DiCamillo, Mercy Watson 10th Anniversary Celebration
10 a.m.

Join Kate for a 30-minute Q&A featuring her award-winning Mercy Watson series for early readers. Then, get excited for a very special show by Story Pirates, inspired by the one and only porcine wonder herself, Mercy Watson!

(Read about the time I met Kate DiCamillo)

Teens pavilion

Cynthia Levinson, “Watch Out for Flying Kids: Two Circuses, Two Countries and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community”
10 a.m.  

Levinson follows the participants of two circuses that work together periodically: Circus Harmony, in St. Louis, put on by inner-city and suburban kids, and Circus Galilee in Israel, staged by Jewish and Arabic performers. Includes a circus performance.

Letters About Literature/A Book That Shaped Me Summer Reading Contest Awards Ceremony
12:40 p.m.

Experience kids reading their award-winning entries in these two Library of Congress reading contests. Letters About Literature asks kids to read a book and write to the author about how that book affected their lives. Special guest Walter Isaacson will appear, as a national award-winning student reads his letter to the author of “Steve Jobs.” A Book That Shaped Me Summer Writing Contest is administered as part of summer reading programs at participating public libraries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Prizes will be awarded and top winners will present their essays during this special presentation.


Contemporary Life pavilion

Kluge Center Program
10:55 a.m.

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers and the public. This year at the Festival, the Kluge Center will present an assortment of scholars who have done groundbreaking research during their tenure: Manuel Castells will talk about his book “Networks of Outrage and Hope,” which discusses the challenges of the digital future; Morton Kondracke will speak of his forthcoming biography of Jack Kemp, whom he considers a transformational political figure and Julia Young will talk about her new book, “Mexican Exodus,” which describes the early 20th century Mexican immigration to the United States and the little-known Cristero Rebellion that spurred it.

Melting Pot America
2:35 p.m.

Moderated by Ray Suarez, author of “Latino Americans” and an eminent broadcast journalist covering news about the American mosaic, this program is a
celebration of the many ethnicities that make up the American experience. University of Minnesota scholar Erika Lee will speak about the forging of Asian America, described in her newly published book. Tom Gjelten, noted NPR cultural commentator, will discuss his “A Nation of Nations,” which describes the history of immigration in this country and the government act, 50 years ago, that made it a legal reality of American life. Together, these scholars and journalists will provide a dynamic portrait of America and the many challenges it faces in the hard work of being the world’s melting pot.

Science pavilion

The Global Environment, the Economy and the Planet’s Future
1:40 p.m.

Preeminent biologist Edward O. Wilson, and the “guru of the global economic future,” Jeffrey Sachs, combine for a stimulating conversation on human existence and its viability on this planet. Wilson, author of “The Meaning of Human Existence,” is a voice of conscience about the complexities of earthly life; Sachs, author of “The Age of Sustainable Development,” makes a dynamic argument for the ways it can be maintained. Together, they promise a vibrant exchange on the ways we should be thinking about the global future.

First Nations of Australia pavilion

First Nations Authors of Australia
2:35 p.m.

Three presentations from First Nation authors from Australia will cover the topics:

Of Community, Family and Country
First Nations Australian authors Jeanine Leane (“Purple Threads”), Melissa Lucashenko (“Mullumbimby”) and Tony Birch (“The Promise”) share readings and discuss issues important to contemporary life for Aboriginal people in Australia as reflected in their work.

Adventures and Journeys for the Young and Young at Heart 
Australian First Nations young-adult authors Jared Thomas (“Calypso”) and Bruce Pascoe (“Fog a Dox”) join with children’s author/illustrator Dub Leffler (“Once There Was a Boy”) to share their stories, characters and insights.

Stories from Down Under
Contemporary fiction writers Tony Birch (“The Promise”) and Ellen Van Neerven (“Heat and Light”), along with social historian Bruce Pascoe (“Dark Emu. Black seeds – Agriculture or Accident), introduce readings and understanding into the diversity of stories that make modern Australia, both fact and fiction.


Fiction pavilion

2015 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
10 a.m.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named Louise Erdrich, author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Love Medicine,” “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,” “The Plague of Doves” and her current novel, “The Round House,” as the recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Erdrich will receive her award in the Fiction pavilion at 10 a.m.

Poetry & Prose pavilion

Publishing in the Digital Age
11:50 a.m.

A panel of distinguished publishers and an author well-versed in publishing will discuss how book-publishing has changed – and may change – in the age of digitization. Join Lynn Freed (“Reading, Writing and Leaving Home” and “The Servants’ Quarters”), Geoffrey Kloske, president of Riverhead Books, and Kevin Larimer, editor-in-chief of Poets & Writers magazine, as they talk about their own experiences and make some predictions.

Why Literature Matters
2:35 p.m

In an age that would argue that there are more vital priorities, why does literature matter? Three very different thinkers—Jane Hirshfield, a poet-cum-literary critic; Azar Nafisi, a best-selling memoirist scholar; and Jeffrey Brown, a renowned journalist who has just published a collection of poetry—come together to talk about the transformational power of the imagination and how it speaks to the most vibrant questions of our time: revolution, dissent, success, failure, abundance, poverty, war, community and the abiding human quest for meaning.

Poetry Slam
7:30 p.m. Ballroom C

The Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts and Split This Rock are proud to present the second annual National Book Festival Youth Poetry Slam. Teen poets from Split This Rock in Washington, D.C., Get Lit Los Angeles, MetaFour Houston and Young Chicago Authors will compete in a high-spirited competition reciting new poems celebrating books and literature. The emcee for the evening will be an alumnus of Split This Rock’s national award-winning D.C. Youth Slam Team, Kosi Dunn. Celebrity judges are U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, D.C. adult slam champion Lauren Bullock and National Public Radio culture reporter Bilal Qureshi.

Romance pavilion

Romance Fiction panel
7:15 p.m.

Add some romance to your life as NPR’s Petra Mayer emcees a program devoted to romance fiction, featuring three of today’s best-loved romance writers: Sarah MacLean (“Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover”), Beverly Jenkins (“Destiny’s Captive”) and Paige Tyler (“Wolf Trouble”). Each writer will discuss her work individually; then all three authors will participate in a discussion led by Mayer, followed by a question-and-answer session.


Special Programs pavilion

Thomas Jefferson’s Library: 250 Years at the Library of Congress
10:55 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

In 1815, Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library to the United States, as the congressional library had been burned the year before by the British in the War of 1812. After selling his beloved collection of 6,487 volumes, he resumed collecting, writing to his friend John Adams and telling him, “I cannot live without books.” That quotation is the theme for this year’s National Book Festival in its 15th year. In recognition of Jefferson’s 200-year influence on the collecting policies of the Library of Congress, an extraordinary group of Jefferson scholars will discuss various aspects of his life. Mark Dimunation, chief of the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division, will moderate a discussion featuring Joseph Ellis, author of“American Sphinx”; Annette Gordon-Reed, who wrote “The Hemingses of Monticello”; Jon Meacham, author of “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power”; and Henry Wiencek, who wrote “Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.” These eminent historians are gathered together for the first time.

The Human Side of War: A Tribute to the American War Experience, 1942-2015
2:35 p.m. 

An extraordinary array of writers on the subject of war gather to pay tribute to American warriors of the past 75 years. Award-winning broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw will speak about his best-selling book “The Greatest Generation.”  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Rick Atkinson will talk about the human stories in his Liberation Trilogy: “Army at Dawn,” “The Day of Battle,” and “The Guns at Last Hour.” Christian Appy will present “American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity.” National Book Award finalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran will speak on his book on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, co-written with Howard Schultz, “For Love of Country.” Lastly, Elizabeth Samet, a professor at West Point and author of “Soldier’s Heart,” will hold a discussion with war novelists who have dealt with the ongoing Iraq-Afghanistan experience in great works of fiction: Elliot Ackerman (“Green on Blue”), Roxana Robinson (“Sparta”) and National Book Award winner Phil Klay (“Redeployment”).

This year’s festival will be bigger than ever, with more than 175 authors, poets and illustrators participating. The full list is at

The National Book Festival ( is funded by private donors and corporate sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy. Since 2010, National Book Festival Board Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s lead benefactor and has pledged funding for the festival for five more years. Charter Sponsors include AARP, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsor, the National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are C-SPAN2’s Book TV, Jacqueline B. Mars, The Junior League of Washington, National Geographic, Scholastic Inc. and WAMU 88.5 FM; and, in the Friends category, the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., the Cultural Institute of the Embassy of Mexico in the United States, The Embassy of Peru in the United States of America, Georgetown University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, The Hay-Adams, the Inter-American Development Bank, The Jefferson Hotel, Susan Carmel Lehrman, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute with support from board chair Roger A. Strauch, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, NPR, Small Press Expo and Split This Rock. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at


I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.

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