Iowa City celebrates literary past

More than 70 events are planned for the Book Festival through Oct. 13.

Published: October 6 2013 | 7:02 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 9:27 pm in

The Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate its fifth year in the City of Literature with more than 70 events from Thursday through Oct. 13.

Throughout the festival more than 80 authors will visit Iowa City to read from their work and talk about literature and the writing life. On Saturday, a series of readings and panel discussions will feature nearly 40 authors from around the country. Nearly 30 participants in this year’s International Writing Program at the University of Iowa also will participate in panel discussions during the day, adding a multi-cultural component to the program.

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.

The weekend begins on Thursday with “An Evening with the Lacks Family: The Story Behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” That best-selling 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 attend a free event at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Iowa City.

“Writing in the City of Literature,” is a ticketed Friday evening event at the Englert Theatre that will feature writers affiliated with the UI 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”). 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 attend. Tickets are available at Englert.org.

A book fair featuring more than 15 vendors will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the downtown Pedestrian Mall. Also Saturday, 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 join author Dow Mossman, who is featured in the film, to discuss the its 10th anniversary. Both screenings are free. In addition, a public reading of the book, “Open Door: 100 Years 100 Poems,” will occur on Saturday.

Sunday will again be “A Day in the City of Literature.” 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.

For a full schedule, visit Iowacitybook

festival.org/schedule.

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