Iowa City Book Festival announces Oct. 10-13 programming

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 begins on Thursday, Oct. 10, with “An Evening with the Lacks Family: The Story Behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” That bestselling 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. at Macbride Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. The presenting sponsor is Integrated DNA Technologies, with additional support from the UI College of Public Health and the UI Museum of Natural History. Other programming leading up to that event will be announced in coming weeks.

Friday, Oct. 11, brings “Writing in the City of Literature,” a ticketed evening event at the Englert Theatre featuring 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). The event is sponsored by The Eastern Iowa Airport. More details, including ticket prices and the on-sale date, will be announced soon.

Many authors will visit Iowa City to read from their work and talk about literature and the writing life as part of the programming on Saturday, 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, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate whose debut, Stiltsville, won the PEN/Bingham prize for best debut work published in 2010. Her latest novel is 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, New York Times bestselling author from 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, a sequel to Driftless, the All-Iowa Reads pick for 2010.

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of the bestselling novels American WifePrep, and The Man of My Dreams. Her new novel is Sisterland. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Larry Watson, author of nine novels, including his debut, Montana, 1948. His forthcoming novel is Let Him Go.

More authors will be announced in coming weeks. Visit the festival website at for full bios for each of the participating authors.

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.

Sunday will again be “A Day in the City of Literature.” As in past years, 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.

In addition, complementary programming will be offered throughout the weekend by partners that include Film Scene, Little Village and Mission Creek.

Launched by the University of Iowa Libraries in 2009, the festival is now under the auspices of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization. With the move came a change of date, shifting from July to the weekend of Oct. 10-13, 2013.

“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.”

Support for the festival comes from the City of Iowa City, the University of Iowa, the Sheraton and hotelVetro, the Iowa City Public Library, the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bradley & Riley PC and Knutson Construction.

To learn more about the festival, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, and to be among the first to know about additions to the lineup, visit the website at

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