This year’s Southern Festival of Books has gone online and will take place October 1-11. Sessions can be streamed through the SFB app (on a phone or a computer) or through YouTube or Facebook. If you can’t be there live, many of the sessions will also be added to YouTube for later viewing.
Here are a few highlights, but be sure to check the full schedule and streaming options at https://www.humanitiestennessee.org/sfb2020-main/!
THREE CAN’T MISS SESSIONS
Thursday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m.
In Conversation: Ann Patchett and Yaa Gyasi
The Festival kicks off with Nashville’s own Ann Patchett and Yaa Gyasi in conversation. You may know Gyasi from her highly acclaimed 2016 novel Homegoing. Here, she’ll be discussing her new book—and one of the biggest books of the fall—Transcendent Kingdom.
Sunday, October 4 at 2:00 p.m.
Women’s National Book Association Coffee with Authors
Another huge release, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, will be featured at WNBA’s popular annual event, which also includes local literary celebrity Mary Laura Philpott, Samira Ahmed, and C. Pam Zhang. Zhang is the author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold and was recently selected as a 5 Under 35 Honoree by the National Book Foundation.
Monday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Another major get for the Festival is Ayad Akhtar, whose memoir-like new novel is about the immigrant experience of a Pakistani American before and after 9/11. Dwight Garner of The New York Times describes it as “a beautiful novel about an American son and his immigrant father that has echoes of The Great Gatsby.”
APPALACHIA AND THE RURAL SOUTH
Obviously, this is an area where the Southern Festival really shines. I am especially looking forward to these four sessions:
Thursday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m.
In Conversation: Ron Rash and George Singleton
Rash’s new collection, In the Valley, includes stories set in the mountains of North Carolina as well as a novella that is a sequel to his popular novel Serena. George Singleton, my favorite Southern Festival regular, has a new compilation of his best stories called You Want More.
Saturday, October 10 at 10:00 a.m.
Step into the Circle: Writers in Modern Appalachia
This powerhouse session includes Lee Smith, Silas House, and Wiley Cash.
Saturday, October 10 at 3:00 p.m.
Appalachian Voices Past and Present
I’m attending this one because of Sarah Smarsh. Author of last year’s acclaimed memoir Heartland, she now turns her attention to the feminist inspiration of Dolly Parton in She Come by It Natural.
Saturday, October 10 at 4:15 p.m.
In Conversation: Ashleigh Bryant Phillips and Deesha Philyaw
These are two up-and-coming authors who may not be on your radar yet. I predict this session will be the sleeper hit of the Festival!