10 Amazing Black Events at the 2016 Texas Book Festival

The 2016 Texas Book Festival lineup included a significant number of African Americans among the poet laureates, national book award winners, and acclaimed debut novelists.

One of the many pleasures of living in Austin is the Texas Book Festival. The free two-day event brings nationally and internationally known authors to the capital and surrounding area for two days of literary talks, book signings and readings. There are also venues for music, children books, even cooking.

The organizers do a good job making sure the featured authors reflects the varied interests of the community. This year’s lineup included a significant number of African Americans among the poet laureates, national book award winners, and acclaimed debut novelists.

Here are 10 things you missed if you didn’t make it out. Don’t worry, there is always next year.

  1. A talk by Michael Eric Dyson, who read from his new book The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America
  2. Natashia Deón, reading the heart-stopping opening of her novel Grace and then discussing how the impacts of slavery are still felt today with Yaa Gyasi, who received one of the biggest advances in history for her debut novel Homegoing.
  3. A rare opportunity to be in the presence of Newberry and National Book Award winner  Kwame Alexander, who discussed his latest works, Surf’s Up and Booked.
  4. The chance to eat a Sunday brunch prepared by world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson (The Red Rooster Cookbook). It was a fundraising event, but still much cheaper than boarding a flight to New York and taking the train to Harlem to eat at the actual Red Rooster restaurant.
  5. Wade Smith (Smitty Hits the Play Books), discussing how he went from the NFL to writing children’s books, and how his Dallas-based foundation helps support literacy in schools.
  6. Mitchell S. Jackson, winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel The Residue Years, reading from a work in progress, Fast 10, Slow 20, in a way that proves the pulse of hip-hop has long been overdue in high literature.
  7. Discovering the great humor and all the work that went into creating the best-selling We Love You Charlie Freeman. Kaitlyn Greenidge’s reading proved that every second of the eight-year writing process was worth it.
  8. Finding out that the house in Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House was based on a home her grandparents owned in Detroit. Flournoy’s novel was a finalist for National Book Award.
  9. The chance to be part of the audience for C_Span2/Book TV.
  10. One of the stars of Orange is the New Black Diane Guerrero’s discussion the plight of the undocumented.

Held each fall in and around the majestic State Capitol in downtown Austin, the first Festival took place in November 1996 and has grown into one of the nation’s premier annual literary events, featuring 275+ authors of the year’s best books and drawing more than 40,000 book lovers of all ages.


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