Ten-year milestone gives book festival
Opening events to commemorate 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board
By Anne Bromley
When it comes to books, you can have your cake and eat it,
too, at this year’s
Virginia Festival of
the Book March 24-28. The festival will celebrate its 10th
year with 10 cakes from local bakeries at
its opening event, set for Wednesday at noon in the Jefferson-Madison Central
Library on East Market Street.
The 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education
desegregation decision also will be commemorated at the opening event with remarks
from John Stokes, a student who led protests in 1951 against segregation in Prince
Edward County schools. Several other festival events will be devoted to examining
the legacy of the Brown decision.
luncheons with authors Clyde Edgerton and David Baldacci sold
out quickly, the public is invited to feast
on five days’ worth of mostly free literary
events, including a broad array of readings, panel discussions and literacy
programs. There will even be another chance to catch
Edgerton at either his book-signing
(March 25, 2 p.m., New Dominion Bookshop) or the Fellowship of Southern
Writers gathering the same evening, where he’ll
sing in a writers’ band before
Another event features Garrison Keillor, host of the public
radio show, “Prairie
Home Companion,” whose most recent novel is “Love Me.” Keillor
will speak March 24 at 8 p.m. in the Charlottesville Performing Arts Center.
One thousand tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis that
day beginning at 6 p.m.
Tickets will also be required for Michael Ondaatje’s talk in Newcomb Hall
Ballroom March 27 at 4 p.m. and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s
reading at 8 p.m. in the same venue on Saturday. Ondaatje — author of “The
English Patient,” which was made into a popular movie — will be talking
about his novel, “Anil’s Ghost,” with forensic anthropologist
Victoria Sanford, who was the model for the book’s protagonist.
Chabon won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 novel, “The Amazing Adventures
of Kavalier and Clay.” He also wrote “Wonder Boys,” which was
made into a movie, and the scripts for two “Spiderman” movies. Chabon
and Virginia Quarterly Review editor Ted Genoways will talk about the author’s
work after the reading.
Other fiction writers include Alexander McCall Smith, author
of the best-selling “No.
1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and other novels about southern Africa;
U.Va. alumnus Edward P. Jones, twice nominated for the National Book Award, who
will read from “The Known World” at two events on March 26; and Cuban
author Antonio Benitez-Rojo, who will read his work in Spanish, followed by English
At a special March 25 event, U.Va. professor emeritus George
poet laureate, will convene the Fellowship of Southern Writers to present a series
of readings in honor of acclaimed poet Eleanor Ross Taylor.
A Charlottesville resident, Taylor has published five books
of poetry, most recently “Late
Leisure.” Among her awards are the Library of Virginia’s Poetry Prize
and the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry. Starting at 7 p.m. that
night in the Albemarle County Office Building, several poets, including U.Va.
English professor Charles Wright, and several authors, including Kaye Gibbons,
will read from their work. In a new plot twist, Edgerton, with writers Richard
Bausch and Madison Smartt Bell will entertain listeners between readings as a
A variety of genres, including poetry, children’s literature and all kinds
of nonfiction, will again be presented, as will subjects both behind the page
(publishing) and coming to the page (literacy). Poetry readings vary from open-mike
slams and readings accompanied by jazz, to several events featuring alumni of
U.Va.’s creative writing program, to a reading of John Wayne’s poetry
as told to Laurance Wieder. In addition to reading her poetry, U.Va. poet and
Nystrom, who hails from Nebraska, will participate in a panel
discussion on the literary West with poet Joy Harjo, Judy
Blunt and Dan O’Brien.