Book Festival moves online for 2020

Events for the 12th annual Iowa City Book Festival will be held online with original programming and partnerships with co-presenters that celebrate authors from around the block and around the world.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, the festival, which usually is held at various locations throughout the area, will be available to anyone with access to the Internet. All events will be streamed live and recorded for later viewing. This year’s festival partners include the One Community One Book program and the Examined Life Conference, among others.

Because we are not limited by needing to have authors physically present in Iowa City for the festival, we will continue to build programming, so the festival website,, will be the place to find the most up-to-date information about the schedule.

The festival will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, with James Autry of Des Moines, who will discuss his new book, The White Man Who Stayed. The book, from North Liberty’s Ice Cube Press, tells the true story of Autry’s cousin, Doug, who did important work related to race in his native Mississippi after World War II.

We continue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, with a virtual event featuring Thomas Frank. The author of What’s the Matter with Kansas will discuss his new book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism. In the book, Frank dispels commonly held beliefs about populism and discusses its history.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, the One Community One Book project from the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights welcomes Fatima Farheen Mirza at 7 p.m. Mirza, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will discuss her novel, A Place For Us. The community is encouraged to read the book and then to watch Mirza’s presentation.

On Thursday, Oct. 7, festival partner the Examined Life Conference presents author Rana Awdish, author of the critically-acclaimed, best-selling memoir, In Shock, based on her own critical illness. In the book, Dr. Awdish tells of being a young critical care physician who is transfigured into a dying patient. The presentation will be at 5:30 p.m., and like the rest of the programs at the Book Festival, is free and open to the public.

Friday, Oct. 8, brings a pair of best-selling authors, with Jill McCorkle in conversation with Ron Rash. McCorkle, author of the New York Times bestseller Life After Life, will discuss her new novel, Hieroglyphics, while Rash will talk about his new collection, In the Valley, which includes a novella and stories set in the world of what is perhaps his best-known book, Serena. They will appear at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 9, features a look at award-nominated works of literary translation by former participants in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. Anja Kampmann, a German poet and novelist was a part of the IWP in 2010. She will discuss her novel High as the Waters Rise, which was translated by Anne Posten. Pilar Quintana, a Colombian novelist and short story writer who participated in the IWP in 2011, will discuss her novel The Bitch, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman. The two novels were longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature. Both authors and their translators will participate in the panel at 2 p.m.

Sunday features two local University of Iowa Press authors. Erika Billerbeck, an Iowa DNR officer from Solon will read from her new nonfiction book, Wildland Sentinel, 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11. Billerbeck takes readers along for the ride as she and her colleagues sift through poaching investigations, chase down sex offenders in state parks, search for fugitives in wildlife areas, haul drunk boaters to jail, perform body recoveries, and face the chaos that comes with disaster response

At 4 p.m., Charles Connerly, professor and director of the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning, will discuss his new book, Green, Fair and Prosperous: Paths to a Sustainable Iowa.

At the center of what was once the tallgrass prairie, Iowa has stood out for clearing the land and becoming one of the most productive agricultural states in the nation. To become green, fair, and prosperous, Connerly argues that Iowa must reckon with its past and the fact that its farm economy continues to pollute waterways, while remaining utterly unprepared for climate change.

Monday, Oct. 12, which was declared as “Paul Engle Day” in Iowa by Gov. Tom Vilsack, brings the celebration marking the award of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize. This year’s winner is Eve L. Ewing. She will receive her award during a special event at 7 p.m. Dr. Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is the author of the poetry collection 1919 and the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side. She is the co-author (with Nate Marshall) of the play “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks.” She also currently writes the Champions series for Marvel Comics and previously wrote the acclaimed Ironheart series, as well as other projects.

Friday, Oct. 16, will feature a conversation at 7 p.m. between author Hope Edelman and writer Kelly Carlin. Edelman will discuss her new book, The Aftergrief: Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss, a book she describes as “Motherless Daughters all grown up.” Carlin, a writer, actress, producer, monologist, and Internet radio host, is the daughter of the late comedian George Carlin.