Texas Book Festival

Our critics Joe Gross, Charles Ealy and Sharyn Vane share their picks for who to see at the 20th annual fest on Oct. 17-18.



10 a.m. The great Margaret Atwood discusses her new novel “The Heart Goes Last” with one-time Austin author Kelly Luce. Neither is a stranger to a certain degree of grounded fantasy. I am sure you can sneak in a question about “The Handmaid’s Tale.” (House Chamber)

11 a.m. Kids, it’s Lemony Snicket time. The man himself, in front of you, discussing various unfortunate events. (Paramount Theater)

11:45 a.m. One-time Austinite Sarah Hepola discusses her long road to sobriety in her New York Times best-seller “Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.” (Central Presbyterian Church)

1 p.m. Two memoirists, Marie Mutsuki Mockett (“Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye”) and Damon Tweedy (“Black Man in a White Coat”) discuss race, grief and the weight of history. (Kirkus Reviews Tent)

2 p.m. Poets Mark Neely (“Dirty Bomb”) and Juliana Spahr (“That Winter the Wolf Came”) discuss tackling the contemporary political moment through poetry. Moderated by Heather Houser. (Capitol Extension 2.016)

3:15 p.m. It is an extraordinary time for women in comics, so check out cartoonists Marisa Acocella Marchetto (“Anna Tenna”), Anne Opotowsky and illustrator Aya Morton (the Walled City Trilogy), discussing where women in comics have been and where they are going. (Capitol Auditorium)

4 p.m. Longtime Village Voice music editor Robert Christgau is a brilliant, innovative writer, and his portrait-of-the-critic-as-a-young-man memoir, “Going into the City,” is a trip. (Capitol Extension 2.010)


11 a.m. Journalists Michael Weiss and Joby Warrick unwind the violent beginnings of ISIS and the future of the Islamic State in the Middle East. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)

12:30 p.m. In “Negroland,” Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and memoirist Margo Jefferson discusses growing up in the African-American upper class and how it shaped her views on race and identity. (Capitol Auditorium)

1 p.m. Dalia Azim moderates a chat between Austin-based fiction writer Louisa Hall and Pulitzer-Prize winning science writer John Markoff about the relationship between humans, computers and where the real meets unreal in the future of artificial intelligence. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)

2:15 p.m. Authors Kelly Link (“Get in Trouble: Stories) and Austin’s own Edward Carey (the Iremonger series) love each other’s work. Here them discuss their oddness and each other’s. (Texas Tent)

3 p.m. Of course I am going to recommend the panel I am moderating. Austin Grossman discusses his bonkers novel “Crooked,” in which Richard Nixon confronts Lovecraftian horrors that cannot be named. (Extension 1.026)

3:30 p.m.Take your daughters to TBF! Tavi Gevinson (“Rookie”), Rebecca Serle (the Famous in Love series) and North Texas author Julie Murphy (“Dumplin’”) discuss what it is to be a young woman today. (House Chamber)

Austin author Edward Carey will team up with Kelly Link to discuss their oddness and each other’s at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday. Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell / American-Statesman



10 a.m. The queen of dystopian fiction, Margaret Atwood, talks about her latest novel, “The Heart Goes Last,” which has a very dark, satirical heart. (House Chamber)

11 a.m. NPR host and author Steve Inskeep talks about “Jacksonland,” which explores the infamous Trail of Tears and the appropriation of Native-American lands. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)

Noon: Harriet A. Washington has a controversial theory: that bacteria and viruses can cause mental illness and that vaccinations might be able to prevent the disease. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)

1 p.m. Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel “The Same Sky” is one of the best to come out of Austin this year. She talks about the book with best-selling author Christina Baker Kline. (Texas Tent)

2:15 p.m. Austin author Elizabeth McCracken shares her short-story insights with Laura Furman, the editor of this year’s “O. Henry Prize Stories.” (First United Methodist Sanctuary)

3 p.m. A celebration of Sandra Cisneros, the longtime Texas writer who currently lives in Mexico and is one of the trailblazers in Latina fiction. Her latest is the memoir “A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.” (Central Presbyterian Church)

4 p.m. I grew up in a NASA town (Huntsville, Ala.), so I’m quite interested in hearing authors Margaret Lazarus Dean and Steven Moss talk about the achievements — and the questionable future — of space exploration. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)


11 a.m. Former Granta editor John Freeman talks about “Freeman’s: The Best Writing on Arrival” and “Tales of Two Cities: The Best of Times and Worst of Times in Today’s New York” with contributors Tea Obreht and Laura van den Berg. (Kirkus Reviews Tent)

Noon: Austin writer Debra Monroe discusses her latest memoir, “My Unsentimental Education,” with Alex Sheshunoff, author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise: 9 Steps to Giving Up Everything.” (Capitol Extension 2.010)

1 p.m. Former Austinite Benjamin Markovits, author of “You Don’t Have to Live Like This,” and current Austinite Karen Olsson, author of “All the Houses,” talk about novels that explore American cities. (Capitol Extension 2.010)

2 p.m. Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts discusses race relations in America, in the context of his new novel, “Grant Park.” (House Chamber)

3:15 p.m. Jan Jarboe Russell explores World War II family internment camps in Texas, based on her research for “The Train to Crystal City.” (Capitol Extension 2.028)

4 p.m. Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson are still having a profound influence on Central Texas, long after their deaths. Betty Boyd Caroli and Mark Updegrove share insights about the legendary former president and the groundbreaking first lady. (C-SPAN2/Book TV Tent)

Austin author Amanda Eyre Ward will discuss her novel “The Same Sky” with Christina Baker Kline at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Photo by Laura Skelding / American-Statesman



10 a.m. Discover the secret stories of teens in the “Things I’ll Never Say” anthology, edited by Ann Angel and including stories from Austin’s Cynthia Leitich Smith and Varian Johnson. (Capitol Extension 2.016)

11 a.m. “Fablehaven” author Brandon Mull’s new series plunges readers into the “Five Kingdoms,” and Polly Holyoke dives deep underwater in her “Neptune Project” books. Together, the duo’s panel will keep you “On the Edge of your Seat.” (Capitol Extension 2.014)

12:30 p.m. Find out which books your child’s school librarian will no doubt be recommending at the annual Bluebonnet Award announcements. (Read Me a Story tent)

1 p.m. “Embrace Your Inner Weird” with Cory Putman Oakes’ sweetly funny tale of a boy with dinosaur DNA and Jacqueline Kelly’s return to the Newbery-winning “Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.” (Capitol Extension 2.014)

2 p.m. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born with a deformed leg, but with the support of his mother, he defied conventional wisdom and cultural stereotypes in his native Ghana. Captured on film in a documentary narrated by Oprah, this uplifting story is now a picture book from Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls, “Emmanuel’s Dream.” (Read Me a Story tent)

3 p.m. Escaping the pull of home isn’t easy for the characters created by the authors on the “Blood’s Thicker than Water” panel, including Joy Preble (“Finding Paris”), Renee Watson (“This Side of Home”) and Heather Demetrios (“I’ll Meet You There”). (Capitol Extension 2.016)

4 p.m. Known to legions of HBO fans as “The Wire”’s Bunk and “Treme”’s Antoine Batiste, New Orleans native Wendell Pierce delves into the terrors of Hurricane Katrina and the redemption of its aftermath in his new picture book “The Wind in the Reeds.” (House Chamber)


11:30 a.m. Newbery medalist Avi (“Crispin: The Cross of Lead”) and Caldecott-winning illustrator Brian Floca unveil their middle-grade hunting adventure story “Old Wolf” that melds the natural and online worlds. (Stateside)

Noon: Nikki Loftin, Nick Courage and Rebecca Stead mull the “Survival of the Fittest” with their novels featuring protagonists who battle formidable odds, including cancer, major surgery and a car crash. (Capitol Extension 2.016)

1 p.m. “Terrible Two” author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jory John reveal inside secrets of legendary pranksters, culled from their middle-grade novel that subtly teaches teamwork (though the tasks at hand aren’t principal- or parent-approved). (Stateside)

2 p.m. “Awfully Big Adventures” are better with good friends in tow, as Ivy and Paul discover when they hit the road in search of Ivy’s mother in Austinite Liz Garton Scanlon’s middle-grade novel “Great Good Summer.” Scanlon’s panel also includes “The Doldrums” writer and illustrator Nicholas Gannon and “Highly Unusual Magic” scribe Lisa Papademetriou. (Capitol Extension 2.016)

3:30 p.m. The Austin team of Don Tate and Chris Barton share the story of one of America’s first African-American lawmakers in “The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch,” already named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2015. (Read Me a Story Tent)

4 p.m. The soothing power of words occupies center stage in tales from K.A. Holt (“House Arrest”) and Lydia Gil (the dual-language “Letters from Heaven”/“Cartas deli cielo”). (Capitol Extension 2.016)

Check texasbookfestival.orgfor any last-minute schedule changes

Austin's Don Tate and Chris Barton share the story of “The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch" at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell / American-Statesman