July means abject suffering for Nashvillians every time we go out. It’s one of the reasons I’m always delighted to hear from the Southern Festival of Books. The weather can vary in the first weeks of October, of course, but the festival heralds the promise of crisp leaves, cardigan sweaters and Halloween season. Humanities Tennessee has announced the preliminary list of authors for the two-day festival, which will take place October 14-15 at the War Memorial Auditorium and the Nashville Public Library downtown. Dig this year’s festival artwork by Laura Baisden of Nevernice camp. We can’t wait to discover the merchandising of the festival.
The big names show promise and include Joshua Cohen, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer in fiction for The Netanyahus: Narrative of a Minor and Eventually Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family. It’s a mouthful, and I’m excited to learn more about his work and pick up this book locally.
Also on the role is Patrick Radden Keefe. Guys, have you read Patrick Radden Keefe? The author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland and Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty? Otherwise, go ahead, my non-fiction girls! The journalist distills complex stories and contemporary shenanigans with romantic prose, but always sticking to the facts: abundant research, dynamic interviews, daring investigations. It is a master that we should all read to understand where we are and where we are going.
Also on the list is Nashville’s own country queen, Margo Price, whose first literary work Maybe we’ll get there: a memoir, releases October 4, just in time for its festival appearance. It is a story “of loss, motherhood and the search for artistic freedom”. Here for that.
Other local favorites and household names: the StageAdvice from King Chris Crofton, Destiny O. Birdsong, Mary Laura Philpott, Marissa R. Moss, Justin Jones and former Metro Nashville Board of Health Chairman Alex Jahangir. Jahangir’s Book Hot Spot: A Doctor’s Diary on the Pandemic will be released in September.
Still others have been announced in this first list of authors: Rick Bragg (Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People), Julie Otsuka (swimmers), Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Take my hand), Tayari Jones (Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings by Randall Kenan) and others, to be found on the festival website.