The Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate its fifth year in the City of Literature with an ambitious and varied slate of programming that includes more than 70 events from Oct. 10-13.
The weekend begins Thursday, Oct. 10, with An Evening with the Lacks Family: The Story Behind the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. That bestselling book by Rebecca Skloot details the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American woman whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Two members of Lacks' family will appear at a special free event at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Iowa City ballroom. The presenting sponsor is Integrated DNA Technologies, with additional support from the Iowa Biotech Association, the UI College of Public Health and the Carver College of Medicine Office of Cultural Affairs and Diversity Initiatives, and the UI Museum of Natural History.
Friday, Oct. 11, brings "Writing in the City of Literature," a ticketed evening event at the Englert Theatre featuring writers affiliated with the Iowa Writers' Workshop discussing the writing life in Iowa City and how it has colored and shaped their careers. Presenting authors include Writers' Workshop Director Lan Samantha Chang (All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost), bestselling novelist Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, Sisterland), Alexander Maksik (A Marker to Measure Drift), and Susanna Daniel (Sea Creatures). The event is sponsored by the Eastern Iowa Airport. Tickets are $10; free for students with an ID. A VIP ticket of $60 includes the Englert event and a post-event reception at Share in the Sheraton Iowa City. Many of the festival authors will be in attendance. Tickets are available through The Englert website.
More than 80 authors will visit Iowa City to read from their work and talk about literature and the writing life as part of the remainder of the festival programming.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, a series of readings and panel discussions featuring nearly 40 authors from around the country will give attendees a chance to immerse themselves in the world of books and writing. Nearly 30 participants in this year’s International Writing Program at the UI also will participate in panel discussions during the day, adding a multi-cultural component to the program that truly sets the Iowa City festival apart.
Presenting authors are John M. Adams, Dean Bakopoulos, Natalie Bakopoulos, Jeff Biggers, Charles Blackstone, Sarah Bruni, Carrie Brown, Joelle Charbonneau, Susana Daniel, Kwame Dawes, Amber Dermont, Sean Doolittle, Tom Drury, Sally Barr Ebest, Nina Furstenau, Gregory Galloway, Tracey Garvis Graves, Andrew Sean Greer, John Havick, Stephen Jimenez, Brian Kimberling, Tracy Lucht, Alexander Maksik, Anthony Marra, Tessa Mellas, Kate Milliken, John Rector, David Rhodes, Robin Romm, Bennett Sims, Curtis Sittenfeld, R. Clifton Spargo, Wesley Stace, Karen Thompson Walker, Larry Watson, Don Waters, and Mario Alberto Zambrano.
A book fair featuring more than 15 vendors will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 on the downtown pedestrian mall. Also that day, two films will be screened in conjunction with the FilmScene independent cinema group at its new Scene 1 facility: City of Literature, a University of Iowa-produced documentary about the history of writing in Iowa City at 10 a.m., and The Stone Reader, a film about the love of reading, at 1 p.m. Filmmaker Mark Moskowitz will be joined by author Dow Mossman, who is featured in the film, to discuss the film on its 10th anniversary. Both screenings are free. In addition, a public reading of the book, Open Door: 100 Years 100 Poems, will occur Oct. 12.
Oct. 13 will again be "A Day in the City of Literature." As in past years, more than two dozen authors—most of them regional or local—will appear at businesses in and around the Iowa City area, offering attendees the chance to interact in smaller, more intimate settings.
At 4 p.m. in Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St., Ana Merino, Horacio Castellanos Moya and Luis Muñoz—faculty in the University of Iowa MFA in Spanish Creative Writing program—will read in Spanish, Merino andMuñoz selections of poetry and Moya selections of prose. Printed English translations will be available. The reading will be followed by tapas from Devotay, served in the Times Club wine bar on the second floor of Prairie Lights.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in any of the Book Festival events, contact Rachael Carlson in advance at 319-887-6100.