Iowa City Book Festival, City of Literature celebrate 10th anniversaries this fall

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature will celebrate its 10th anniversary by hosting the tenth Iowa City Book Festival from Oct. 1-7 2018. The festival schedule, which will feature authors from around the country and around the globe, including those from other Cities of Literature.

Long a showcase for partnerships with other area organizations, this year’s festival will feature programming presented in conjunction with the University of Iowa’s Green Room, Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries, the International Writing Program, the Johnson County League of Women Voters, the Englert, Iowa City Hospice and more.

The festival will begin on Monday, Oct. 1, with the Green Room collaboration at the Englert Theatre. The Green Room series is presented as part of a UI course that “invites innovative thinkers to bring to the course the most important question they believe ‘twenty-somethings’ should be trying to answer and that higher education should be trying to inform.” The result is an ongoing community conversation about timely topics.

Each year, the festival features the public reading of a classic work of literature with supporting programming throughout the week. This year’s public reading is of Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. In conjunction with Special Collections, events around the reading begin on Tuesday, Oct. 2, with a presentation of related works and the panel discussion “From Plutarch and Milton to Goethe and Shelley: A Festival of Books in Frankenstein.” Things continue on Wednesday, Oct. 3, with the public reading, a panel led by Special Collections Curator Peter Balestieri, and a screening of one of the adaptations of “Frankenstein” hosted at FilmScene by Corey Creekmur from the UI Department of Cinema Arts.

Thursday at the festival features presentation of the City of Literature’s annual Paul Engle Prize to writer Dina Nayeri. The prize honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts. Nayeri is the seventh writer to win the award. She will receive the award at an event at 7 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library. Nayeri is a novelist, essayist and activist who has written extensively about the life and challenges of refugees.

In addition, the popular storytelling podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” will visit the Englert Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $30 and are available at the Englert box office or at

Saturday, the biggest day of programming at the festival, will feature dozens of events including readings, panel discussions, workshops, a book fair and more. The festival closes Sunday evening, Oct. 7, with a presentation by Dr. Ira Byock about his book, The Four Things That Matter Most, presented in partnership with the Iowa City Hospice program Honoring Your Wishes. Byock will talk at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts.

Other highlights include:

  • Authors from other Cities of Literature will be featured at the festival. They include Sjón from Reykjavik, Sunni Overend from Melbourne, and ZP Dala from Durban, South Africa.
  • Politics will feature prominently at this year’s festival, include Dan Kauffman (The Fall of Wisconsin), Ari Berman (Give Us the Ballot) and Silvia Hidalgo (How to Be an American).
  • The annual Day in the City of Literature returns on Sunday, Oct. 7, when local and regional writers will hold readings hosted at area businesses and other non-traditional venues.

Among the authors who will appear at the festival are fiction favorites and writers tackling a number of fascinating nonfiction subjects. Highlights include:

  • Wayetu Moore is founder of One Moore Book, a nonprofit organization that encourages reading among children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures by publishing culturally relevant books and creating bookstores and reading corners to serve these communities. Her first bookstore opened in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2015. Her debut novel is She Would Be King.
  • Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of four novels, including The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don’t You Cry and Every Last Lie. A former high school history teacher, Kubica lives outside of Chicago.
  • Guy Branum is a comedian who has written for “The Mindy Project” and “Billy on the Street,” appears regularly on “Chelsea, Lately” and is currently the host and star of “Talk Show the Game Show” on TruTV. His debut book, My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un)Popular Culture, comes out this fall.
  • Mary Mejia is the Minnesota-based author of The Dragon Keeper and Everything You Want Me to Be. She writes what she likes to read: contemporary, plot-driven books that deliver both entertainment and substance. Her forthcoming book is Leave No Trace.
  • Mike Mullin lives in Danville, Indiana, and writes the “Ashfall” series of young adult novels. His new novel is Surface Tension. His debut, Ashfall, was named one of the top five young adult novels of 2011 by National Public Radio, a Best Teen Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and a 2016 YALSA Popular Paperback.

Other than the “Welcome to Night Vale” event at the Englert, all festival events announced to date are free and open to the public.

Most events will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6. The full schedule will be released closer to the event. For specific times and locations for festival events, or to learn more about programs and authors, please visit or follow us on Facebook ( or Twitter (, where we will share news of new programs and authors as they are confirmed.