Iowa City book festival announces October lineup

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate its fifth year in the City of Literature with an ambitious and varied slate of programming over four days in early October.

The weekend will begin Oct. 10, with “An Evening with the Lacks Family: The Story Behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The 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 appear at a special free event at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Macbride Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Writers affiliated with the UI Writers’ Workshop will discuss the writing life in Iowa City and how it has shaped their careers at a “Writing in the City of Literature” ticketed event held Oct. 11 at The Englert Theatre. Presenting authors include Writers’ Workshop Director Lan Samantha Chang, Curtis Sittenfeld, Alexander Maksik, and Susanna Daniel.

Many authors will read from their work and talk about literature on Oct. 12. In a series of readings and panel discussions, more than 30 authors will give attendees a chance to immerse themselves in the world of books and writing. This includes participants in this year’s International Writing Program at the UI.

Presenting authors include:

John M. Adams, whose “The Millionaire and the Mummies” tells of attorney Theodore Davis, who excavated several ancient Egyptian sites. Davis spent time in Iowa City in the 1860s.

Susanna Daniel, Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and author of “Stiltsville” and “Sea Creatures.”

Kwame Dawes, a professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and editor-in-chief at the Prairie Schooner literary journal. His most recent book of poems is “Duppy Conqueror.”

Tracey Garvis Graves of Des Moines whose forthcoming novel, “Covet,” will be published in September.

Stephen Jimenez, an award-winning journalist, writer and producer whose forthcoming book is “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard.”

Alexander Maksik, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate whose forthcoming novel is “A Marker to Measure Drift.”

Anthony Marra, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate whose latest novel is “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.”

David Rhodes, whose new novel is “Jewelweed,” the All-Iowa Reads 2010 pick.

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of “American Wife,” “Prep,” and “The Man of My Dreams” and “Sisterland.” She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Larry Watson, author of “Montana, 1948” and his forthcoming novel “Let Him Go.”

There will be a book fair Oct. 12 and “A Day in the City of Literature” on Oct. 13 where more than two dozen authors — most of them regional or local — will appear at businesses in and around Iowa City, offering attendees the chance to interact in smaller, more intimate settings.

“We wanted to have the event when the largest number of people was able to attend,” said City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon. “That weekend is a bye week for the Hawkeyes, and we’re hoping for some crisp fall weather to showcase the best of Iowa City literature and bring some great authors to our community.”

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