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Book festival to cover many genres

Book lovers of all ages can take a break from the solitary act of reading and writing to get together and discuss their passion for the written word, whether it's listening to a suspence writer or a traditional storyteller, at the sixth annual Virginia Festival of the Book, VABook!, to be held March 22 through 26 in Charlottesville.

Over its five-year history, attendance at this four-day event has grown, with more than 13,000 people attending VABook! 99. Audience members go to readings, book signings, informal conversations, panel discussions and workshops -- in all, more than 200 events, free and open to the public, designed for those who love to read. During the festival, an entire day is dedicated to family literacy. Last year's Motheread and Fatheread program drew over 800 parents and children for book-related activities. Produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the festival features authors and publishing professionals in programs for adults and children.

Journalists Cokie and Steve Roberts will be the guest speakers at the Friday luncheon. The couple recently published From This Day Forward, a non-fiction book about the institution of marriage, including their own successful 33-year union. Cokie covers politics, Congress and public policy for ABCNews and also serves as a news analyst for National Public Radio. She and her husband write a weekly column syndicated by United Media and appearing in major newspapers around the country. Steve currently writes for the New York Daily News and regularly appears on CNN and PBS.

Steve and Cokie Roberts

Held at the Omni, the benefit luncheon costs $30 and tickets must be reserved in advance. The 2000 festival will also feature U.Va. poets and writers Rita Dove, Charles Wright and John Casey, as well as National Book Critics Circle Award winner Reynolds Price, poets Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez and Henry Taylor, and best-selling authors David Baldacci, a Law School alumnus, and Connie Briscoe. Non-fiction writers include medical author Abraham Verghese, psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison and philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

Highlighting the children's and family literacy programs are Caldecott-winning author and illustrator David Wisniewski, Newbery Honor winner Sharon Bell Mathis and storyteller Dylan Pritchett.

In addition the festival's publishing program will include Carol Brown Janeway, editor-in-chief of Knopf; Edwin Barber, vice president of W.W. Norton, and Diane Zoi of For information, call 924-6890 or visit the web site at


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