Iowa City readies for October Book Festival

Cornelius Eady

Co-founder Cave Canem
Cornelius Eady Co-founder Cave Canem

The 11th annual Iowa City Book Festival set for Oct. 1 to 6 will feature a mix of authors, panel discussions, workshops, a book fair and more, with programming that blends the best in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The event that will attract thousands to the downtown Iowa City has long been a showcase for collaborations with other area organizations. This year’s festival partners include the International Writing Program, the One Community One Book program, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, the Iowa Writers’ House and more.

The festival will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 1, at the Coralville Public Library with presentation of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize to poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady. Derricotte and Eady co-founded Cave Canem in 1996 to remedy the underrepresentation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape.

Other writers who will speak at the event include:

l Mystery novelist John Sandford, a Cedar Rapids native and University of Iowa graduate, who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of 40 novels, including 29 in the Lucas Davenport “Prey” series, and 11 in the “Virgil Flowers” series. Sanford will discuss the latest in the Flowers series, “Bloody Genius,” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Iowa City Public Library.

l Writer, activist and academic Raj Patel. Best-known for the book “Stuffed and Starved, the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System,” Patel will discuss his latest work, “History of the World in 7 Cheap Things” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2, at the Englert Theatre. He also will show rough cuts from his latest documentary, a story of community activists from one of the world’s poorest countries traveling the U.S. to talk to farmers, advocates and policymakers about climate change.

l UI Ida Beam lecturer James Geary, deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and editor of Nieman Reports, will present “Juggling Aphorisms,” based on his latest book, “Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It” at 5:15 p.m. Oct. 3 at Shambaugh Auditorium in the UI Main Library. Geary also will read at the UI’s English-Philosophy Building at 4 p.m. on Oct. 4.

l Jamaican poet and novelist Kei Miller, an Ida Beam scholar visiting the UI’s International Writing Program. Miller is author of three novels, several poetry collections, and “Fear of Stones and Other Stories,” which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book. He will present at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the Iowa City library.


l Lauren Markham, author of “The Far Away Brothers.” Markham’s book, which tells of the journey Salvadoran twins Ernesto and Raul Flores take to illegally immigrate to the U.S. to escape violence in their home country. The book is this year’s selection for the UI’s Center for Human Rights “One Community One Book” program. Markham will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 in 240 Art Building West.

Oct. 5 will feature dozens of events including readings, panel discussions, a book fair and more. Highlights include:

l A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Iowa Press. Authors of current UI Press books will present, including Kendra Allen, Paula Becker and Don Waters.

l Christina Ward, author of “American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O,” will speak about her book, followed by a sampling of recipes by the Iowa City group Historic Foodies. Special Collections at the UI Main Library will showcase several pieces from the Szathmary Culinary Collection.

l A panel discussion on immigration featuring authors from the second volume of the Iowa Writers’ House project We the Interwoven and Lauren Markham will be held on Oct. 4.

The festival closes Oct. 5 with a full day of events that include the start of a week’s worth of screenings of a new digital restoration of Sergei Bondarchuk’s eight-hour adaptation of “War & Peace” at FilmScene.

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