Mississippi Book Festival Watchlist | Jackson Free Press


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The annual literary festival features panel discussions, book signings and sales, food trucks and more. Photo by Amber Helsel

Mississippi is constantly faced with mockery and derision. “Fiftieth” has been the blind cry of its counterparts in the North and even its compatriots in the South, who refuse to see what has long been known: Mississippi is a microcosm of America.

The country that national meteorologists consistently refer to as “the area between New Orleans and Mobile” proves once again that this is more than just a joke that was never true in the first place with its Annual “literary festival on the lawn” on the Capitol grounds. The event celebrates the history of a state that produced Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and Richard Wright while simultaneously saluting her modern voices, such as Natasha Tretheway, Jesmyn Ward and John Grisham.

The one-day festival takes place on August 21 of this year, featuring dozens of panels, commemorative art, and a huge selection of popular writers.

Former Congressman Gregg Harper will be on hand to discuss his new book, “A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama and Trump.” Time Magazine Editor-in-Chief Walter Isaacson will be in attendance, as will recent Faulkner Prize winner Deesha Philyaw.

Mississippi will also include the list of offers, as Jacksonian Angie Thomas promotes her latest YA novel, “Concrete Rose,” alongside activist Kiese Laymon, who is releasing her recent novel, “Long Division.” Catherine Pierce, the state’s most recent poet laureate who recently published “Danger Days,” will also join the list of featured authors.

Visit msbookfestival.com or find the festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Three conversations to capture:

1 Mosquito Supper Club: Melissa M. Martin, Chef of the Mosquito Supper Club in New Orleans, will discuss Louisiana cuisine and bayou life with Timothy Pakron, author of “Mississippi Vegan”.

2 Personal Reflections: Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Lauren Hough will lay bare their lives as they examine their personal memories.

3 Afrofuturism: Tim Fielder and Jesse Holland continue the wonder of Black Panther with their contributions to the syfy-esque tradition.

Five must-see signs:

1 Everything about Hub City Press: The Hattiesburg-based independent publisher will host a panel with three of its authors: Mark Barr, Anjali Enjeti and Gordy Sauer.

2 Meet Me in the Middle: Young readers will have the opportunity to meet New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone, as well as Alda P. Dobbs, Carrie Seims and Gilbert Ford.

3 Rhythms from the region: Regina Bradley, Bobby Rush and David Whiteis talk about their foray into writing about Mississippi’s musical past.

4 Book Club Choices: Those who prefer to read in a group with co-workers, neighbors or friends can find their next monthly pick by listening to Katherine St. John, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Karen White.

5 Southern Writers: With one of the largest panels on the dossier, LeTanya McQueen, Lee Durkee, MO Walsh, Katy Simpson Smith and Gin Phillips will discuss the influence of their Southern roots on their Deep South stories.

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