Monday, August 8, 2011

Countdown to Southern Festival of Books 2011: 10 Weeks

Last year, I started talking about the Southern Festival of Books in mid-July. This year traveling and getting things ready for school have somewhat stifled my internet browsing time, so I'm a bit later getting started. However, never fear -- I will be discussing SFB on Mondays from now until the Festival begins in October.

The Southern Festival of Books is a three-day event that celebrates the written word, especially if the writing happens to have a southern flavor. The Festival takes place in Nashville at the Legislative Plaza. It is organized by Humanities Tennessee, a nonprofit focused on "studies of community history and cultural life and studies of language and literature" (via their website). Now in its 23rd year, I have faith that the Festival will be as good this year as ever before.

The SFB author line-up was announced in July and will be refined until the event occurs. I begin planning for it each year by looking at the initial list, then making my own list of authors that are must-see and another list of those that I'd like to research beforehand (new-to-me authors I haven't yet read but who I might enjoy hearing at the Festival).

Although some of my favorite southern authors are (sadly) missing, there are many fabulous authors I can't wait to see. Some highlights:

Chris Bohjalian is the author of the Oprah's Book Club selection Midwives, as well as many other fabulous novels. I reviewed his last book, Secrets of Eden, and found it to be one of his best works yet. The Night Strangers, a new novel from Bohjalian, will be released just before the Festival in October. It goes without saying that I can't wait to read it.
Mark Childress is the masterful storyteller behind the novel (then the movie) Crazy in Alabama. His newest novel, Georgia Bottoms, has been getting rave reviews (especially from one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Joshilyn Jackson). I haven't read it yet, but it is on the "must" list before this year's Festival.
Clyde Edgerton is always hilarious. I've seen him several times, and his sessions never fail to entertain. On top of that, he's pretty great as a writer. He is the author of Raney, Walking Across Egypt, and Lunch at the Piccadilly. His new novel The Night Train was released in July and has a YA feel to it.
J.T. Ellison writes mystery novels set in Nashville that star female homicide detective, Taylor Jackson. The seventh novel in the series, Where All the Dead Lie, will be released in September.
River Jordan is the author of several novels, but I first read her work in the nonfiction title Praying for Strangers. It was a joy to read Jordan's story of praying for strangers for one year, and my review reflected just how much I loved it. In addition to being an author, Jordan is also a radio personality, which means her sessions at the Festival will be especially enjoyable!
Erin Morgenstern is a new-to-me author, but one who has generated quite a buzz. Her debut novel The Night Circus will not be released until September, but it has already been compared to Harry Potter by USA Today. Word is that David Heyman, producer of all eight Potter movies, is interested in producing the big screen version of The Night Circus. Pretty high praise for a book that has yet to hit shelves -- I think I'll have to bite.
Stewart O'Nan is the author of several well-known titles (A Prayer for the Dying, Wish You Were Here, and The Good Wife, to name a few). The only O'Nan novel I've read was the short Last Night at the Lobster, which I enjoyed thoroughly. O'Nan recently published Emily, Alone, which has generated positive reviews.
Ann Patchett is the author of the great new novel State of Wonder (possibly the best of 2011). I heard her speak in June at the Nashville Public Library, and I won't miss another opportunity to hear her speak on any topic she chooses -- especially if she has more information about her upcoming indie bookstore in Nashville!
Tom Perrotta is one of my all-time favorite authors. I read his books before I started the blog, so I've never actually reviewed anything by him here. But I read all of his books in a matter of weeks after I discovered them. My favorite is probably Little Children -- although I loved both The Abstinence Teacher and Joe College, as well. Perrotta's newest novel has a supernatural twist (which I'm unsure about), but anything from him has to be good, right? The Leftovers will be released in September.

Back by popular demand is the SFB Twitter contest. Each week, they will be tweeting clues about a featured author. The first Twitter follower to guess the author's name correctly will win a Speed Pass -- an amazing thing that zooms you to the front of the line and allows you to meet your favorite author first (before all those dozens of people who leave the sessions early to get "good spots" in line). I won one last year and got to meet Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, who co-write the Body Farm mystery series.

Look for more in-depth posts relating to all things SFB 2011 for the next couple of months (and then, of course, updates throughout the Festival).

Lastly, the Jeffrey Archer winners from last Monday's giveaway are:
  • Meredith M.
  • Donna V.
  • Darcy O.
  • Amy C. 
  • Christine R.
Congratulations to all of you. Look for Archer's newest novel Only Time Will Tell in your mailbox via St. Martin's Press! I'm looking forward to reading it myself and reviewing it in time for its release on August 30.


  1. I am hoping I can get a group of us together in Tennessee Book Bloggers to meet up at the Festival this year. Would you be willing? I'm going to put feelers out in the Goodreads group.

    Thanks for the info about the Twitter contest.

  2. Thanks, Joanna! These do sound like fabulous writers. Can't wait to hear more about the festival.



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