Skip to main content

Schedule

Author presentation videos are available on demand via the Library website and YouTube. For a complete line-up of authors and their video presentations, please see the complete video on demand list.

From Friday through Sunday, September 25-27, we held interactive live Q&A sessions with select authors to complement their presentation videos. We list the Q&A sessions in the schedule under "Live Events by Stage" and "Live Events by Day." Video recordings of Q&A sessions are available on the Festival platform.

Children

Children's Author Special | 59:56 minutes

Join the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jon Scieszka, for “Be You,” an hour-long celebration of reading with many of the nation’s top writers for kids. This 1-hour Special offers a preview of the longer videos that each of these authors has recorded especially for the National Book Festival.

Angela Dominguez | 12:16 minutes

From award-winning author-illustrator Angela Dominguez comes "Stella Díaz Never Gives Up" (Roaring Brook), a story about a shy Mexican-American girl who becomes an environmental activist and makes a difference in her community.

Barb Rosenstock | 13:55 minutes

In "Leave It to Abigail!: The Revolutionary Life of Abigail Adams" (Little, Brown), Caldecott-winner Barb Rosenstock and artist Elizabeth Baddeley tell the story of one of the greatest founding mothers, Abigail Adams, wife and helpmeet of President John Adams, and mother of President John Quincy Adams.

Chelsea Clinton | 17:13 minutes

From the former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and the illustrator Alexandra Boiger, the bestselling team behind "She Persisted," comes a new book launching at the Festival, "She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game" (Philomel), featuring women athletes who overcame all the odds and inspired the world.

Dan Brown | 12:22 minutes

The bestselling author of "The Da Vinci Code," Dan Brown, makes his picture book debut with "Wild Symphony" (Rodale), a mindful, humorous, musical and uniquely entertaining book that features conductor Maestro Mouse.

Deborah Hopkinson | 10:35 minutes

In "Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers' Rights" (Peachtree), Deborah Hopkinson tells about the life of an American first, Frances Perkins, who was the first woman Cabinet member of the United States, made heroic efforts to bring about new laws to treat people better and make workplaces safer, and created our Social Security program. This year, 2020, marks the 85th anniversary of the Social Security Act. 

Don Tate | 16:56 minutes

"William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad" (Peachtree) is the remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad, from award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate.

Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison | 13:09 minutes

Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! What can she learn today? "I Got the School Spirit" (Bloomsbury) is an exuberant celebration of the first day of school by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison, a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award winner.

Jerry Craft | 20:06 minutes

Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature, Jerry Craft's "New Kid" (Quill Tree) is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.

Jessica Curry and Parker Curry | 9:06 minutes

In "Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment" (Aladdin), a visit to Washington's National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry's young life when she views first lady Michelle Obama's gigantic and stunning portrait. Parker Curry is 5 years old; her co-writer is her mother, Jessica Curry.

Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg | 17:35 minutes

Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg's new book "AstroNuts Mission Two: The Water Planet" (Chronicle) follows a new mission, where AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk and StinkBug must find a planet fit for human life after we've finally made Earth unlivable. After they splash-land on another planet, they find power-hungry clams, a rebellious underwater force and a world full of things suspiciously too-good-to-be-true.

K.A. Holt | 12:38 minutes

From the author of "Rhyme Schemer," "House Arrest" and "Knockout!," K.A. Holt's "BenBee and the Teacher Griefer" (Chronicle) is a funny, clever novel-in-verse series about Ben Bellows—who failed the Language Arts section of the Florida State test—and three classmates who get stuck in a summer school class. Their teacher tells them they're simply divergent thinkers, kids who think differently. 

Kate DiCamillo and Ann Patchett | 28:45 minutes

A conversation between two very different authors who (surprise!) happen to be friends. The prizewinning children's writer Kate DiCamillo—"Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem" (Candlewick)—and 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist for adult fiction Ann Patchett—"The Dutch House" (Harper)—talk about their literary friendship and the ways they feed each other's creativity.

Kelly Yang | 16:22 minutes

Kelly Yang's "Three Keys" (Scholastic) is the sequel to the runaway hit starring Mia Tang, "Front Desk!" This time, Mia thinks she's going to have the best year ever, although 6th grade turns out to be tougher than she thought. An immigration law is looming and, if it passes, it will threaten her and everyone she cares about. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it's Mia Tang! Yang also has a current book for teens, "Parachutes."

Kwame Mbalia | 15:35 minutes

An instant bestseller, Kwame Mbalia's "Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky" (Rick Riordan Presents) is an action-packed novel set in a richly imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African Gods.

Megan McDonald | 14:06 minutes

In "Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider" (Candlewick), the author of the popular Judy Moody and Stink series, Megan McDonald, now gives us a story about Stink's spider phobia, which spurs his sister, Judy, and friend Webster to try some desensitization techniques—until a real-life encounter takes them by surprise.

Mo Willems | 25:15 minutes

The bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems, winner of three Caldecott Awards and creator of the Pigeon series as well as Elephant & Piggie, talks about his creative process and the "garden" that inspires his stories and his art. He launches "An Elephant & Piggie Biggie! Volume 3" (Hyperion) and "Unlimited Squirrels: I Want to Sleep Under the Stars" (Hyperion) at the Festival. Interview by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Nic Stone Children's | 14:33 minutes

In an all-new series based on one of the Marvel Universe's breakout characters, comes Nic Stone's "Shuri: A Black Panther Novel," a story of a martial artist, a genius and a master of science and technology. But, she's also a teenager—and a princess. This story follows her as she sets out to save her homeland of Wakanda. Stone's other new book is "Dear Justyce" (Crown).

Pam Muñoz Ryan | 10:40 minutes

Newbery honoree Pam Muñoz Ryan seeks to shine a light on those who help the unwanted, acting selflessly and with empathy. In "Mañanaland" (Scholastic), when Max Córdoba uncovers a buried family secret—involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety—he decides to seek answers about his missing mother on his own.

Peter H. Reynolds | 18:02 minutes

"Be You!" (Orchard) is a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, from the beloved creator of "The Dot," "Happy Dreamer," bestseller "The Word Collector" and "I Am One: A Book of Action" (Abrams)—a book launching at the Festival. In "Be You!" Peter H. Reynolds reminds readers to "be your own work of art." To be patient, persistent and true. Because there is only one you.

Sophie Blackall | 12:49 minutes

Inspired by the thousands of children Caldecott-winner Sophie Blackall has met during her travels around the world in support of UNICEF and Save the Children, "If You Come to Earth" (Chronicle) is the story of a single child with a longing to meet an intergalactic traveler. It is also a guide to our home planet and a call for us to take care of both Earth and each other.

Veronica Chambers | 12:39 minutes

In "Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote" (Versify), Veronica Chambers tells about the women who were at the forefront of the fight to claim their right to vote 100 years ago. That includes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of course, but also many others you may never have heard about and women from diverse backgrounds—Black, Asian, Latino, Native American and more.

Teens

Teens Author Special | 56:51 minutes

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds hosts a 1-hour Special called “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story,” featuring many of today’s best-known writers for teens. A teen slammer from the 2020 Brave New Voices Festival-winning team and the Library’s Citizen DJ interactive project are also included. This special offers a preview of the longer videos that each of these authors has recorded especially for the National Book Festival.

Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed | 21:06 minutes

In Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed's "Yes No Maybe So" (Balzer + Bray), two teens of varying backgrounds—he's shy and Jewish; she's feisty and Muslim—come together and fall in love through political canvassing. A book about love and the transformative power of activism.

Gene Luen Yang | 19:09 minutes

In "Dragon Hoops" (First Second), bestselling graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, basketball and the high school where he teaches. In "Superman Smashes the Klan" (DC Comics), a Chinese-American teenager awakens to find his house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross. Naturally, Superman leaps to the family's help, but a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can the teen and his best friend help Superman smash the Klan?

Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts | 21:01 minutes

In search of a passionate cause? Take a few tips from the suffragists who led the longest and least-known movements in American history in Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts' new book, "The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World" (Candlewick).

M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux | 16:55 minutes

An Atlantis-like city from Celtic legend is the setting of "The Daughters of Ys" (First Second), a graphic novel fantasy from National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson and collaborating artist Jo Rioux.

Mike Curato | 9:47 minutes

Award-winning author and illustrator Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in "Flamer" (Henry Holt), his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion and love. At summer camp, as Aiden Navarro navigates friendships, deals with bullies and spends time with a kindred spirit, Elias, he finds he can't stop thinking about Elias.

Nic Stone Teens | 15:35 minutes

Nic Stone's "Dear Justyce" (Crown) is the stunning sequel to the bestseller "Dear Martin." Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Stone's other new book is "Shuri: A Black Panther Novel" (Scholastic).

Sabaa Tahir | 15:19 minutes

Taking place years before Sabaa Tahir's bestselling series, "An Ember in the Ashes," "A Thief Among the Trees" (Archaia) is a standalone original graphic novel and a prequel to all that follows. The novel concerns three young military recruits: Elias, Helene and Tavi, during their brutal training as soldiers for the Martial Empire.

Tonya Bolden | 9:53 minutes

Award-winning Tonya Bolden tells of Black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in America, including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators and more. Her book, "Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM" (Abrams), celebrates more than 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination and been pioneers in their fields.

Family, Food & Field

Bill Buford | 16:21 minutes

"Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking" (Knopf) is a hilariously self-deprecating, highly obsessive account of Bill Buford's adventures in the world of French haute cuisine. Buford has been a writer and editor for the New Yorker since 1995 and is the bestselling author of "Heat."

Bruce Feiler | 22:17 minutes

From the bestselling author of "The Secrets of Happy Families" and "The Council of Dads," Bruce Feiler's "Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age" (Penguin) is a pioneering investigation into how the stories we tell ourselves about our lives can imprison or empower us, and a step-by-step guide for how to transform and reinvent ourselves in times of transition.

David Kamp | 19:33 minutes

From bestselling writer David Kamp, "Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America" (Simon & Schuster) tells the engrossing, behind-the-scenes story of the cultural heroes who created the beloved children's TV programs "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company," "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," "Free to Be...You and Me" and "Schoolhouse Rock!" which collectively transformed American childhood for the better, teaching kids about diversity, the ABCs and feminism through a fun, funky 1970s lens.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar | 46:47 minutes

Gail Collins, "No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History" (Little, Brown), appears in conversation with Megan Twohey, "She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement" (Penguin). Collins, a columnist and the first woman editorial page editor of The New York Times, gives us a lively, eye-opening look at women and aging in America, while Twohey—a Pulitzer Prize winner for the Times's Harvey Weinstein story—tells the disturbing story of the Weinstein investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement. Moderated by Anna Laymon, executive director of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission.

Jesse Dougherty | 20:26 minutes

"Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won the World Series" (Simon & Schuster) is the remarkable story of the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals told by the Washington Post writer who followed the team most closely, Jesse Dougherty.

Parenting for Success | 30:02 minutes

Judith Warner, "And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School" (Crown), appears in conversation with Esther Wojcicki, "How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Wojcicki, the "Godmother of Silicon Valley," legendary teacher and mother of a "Super Family," shares her tried-and-tested methods for raising happy, healthy, successful children, while Warner reveals why a child's middle school years are so painful and how parents unwittingly make them worse. Moderated by the Library of Congress's director of education, Lee Ann Potter.

Fiction

Colson Whitehead | 34:48 minutes

In "The Nickel Boys" (Anchor), a bravura follow-up to "The Underground Railroad" and his first Pulitzer Prize, Colson Whitehead dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. It won a second Pulitzer for him in 2020. Interview with Marie Arana, literary director of the Library of Congress.

Dystopian Worlds | 33:53 minutes

Dark Star trilogy novelist Marlon James, "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" (Riverhead), talks with sci-fi/fantasy author Jeff VanderMeer, "A Peculiar Peril" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). In the first novel in James's Dark Star trilogy, he explores what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child; VanderMeer's new novel is a head-spinning epic quest revolving around portals to an alternate Earth called Aurora, a surreal world filled with talking animals and vegetables. Moderated by Everdeen Mason of The Washington Post.

Emily St. John Mandel | 16:10 minutes

From the award-winning author of "Station Eleven," Emily St. John Mandel's "The Glass Hotel" (Knopf) is an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events: a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.

From the African Diaspora: Writers on Writing | 36:15 minutes

Ishmael Beah, "Little Family" (Riverhead), joins novelist Maaza Mengiste, "The Shadow King" (Norton), to talk about the ways African diaspora writers are too often dismissed as narrow narrators of war and immigration, whereas novels such as theirs can portray deeper human traits and dramas that cross races and culture in ways that relate to all humanity.

James McBride | 21:46 minutes

From National Book Award-winner James McBride, "Deacon King Kong" (Riverhead) is the story of a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat, who shuffles into the courtyard of a housing project in south Brooklyn one day, pulls a .45 from his pocket and in full public view shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range.

John Grisham | 38:02 minutes

The first winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction (2009), John Grisham is America's most popular writer of legal thrillers. "The Guardians" (Doubleday) is his hair-raising thriller about wrongful convictions. "Camino Winds" (Doubleday) is a light-hearted novel about a murder investigation undertaken by a bookseller. Interview with Marie Arana, literary director of the Library of Congress.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine | 14:14 minutes

Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in "Sabrina & Corina" (One World), a haunting debut story collection from Kali Fajardo-Anstine—a powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands. This book was a National Book Award finalist in 2019.

Salman Rushdie | 19:40 minutes

A satire about the world we live in, Salman Rushdie's latest novel "Quichotte" (Random House) pays Miguel de Cervantes a great, clever compliment with this Don Quixote for modern times. This postmodern dystopian tale tackles everything from global warming to the rise of white supremacism to the opioid crisis—all the ills of our contemporary society.

Téa Obreht | 30:23 minutes

With "Inland" (Random House), the bestselling author of "The Tiger's Wife," Téa Obreht, returns in what Entertainment Weekly called "a bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West." Interview by Ron Charles, fiction critic of The Washington Post.

Genre Fiction

Alaya Dawn Johnson | 13:53 minutes

Winner of the Nebula award, Alaya Dawn Johnson's novel "Trouble the Saints" (Tor) is a dazzling, daring story set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City at the very start of World War II. In it, a young woman from Harlem is hired as an assassin, falls in love and tries to change her fate before it's too late.

Leigh Bardugo | 16:30 minutes

"Ninth House" (Flatiron), the mesmerizing debut novel for adults from Leigh Bardugo (an award-winning young adult novelist), is a tale of power, privilege, dark magic and murder set among the Ivy League elite.

Mary Robinette Kowal | 22:14 minutes

Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series with "The Relentless Moon: A Lady Astronaut Novel" (Tor), following "The Calculating Stars" and "The Fated Sky." In this novel, planet Earth is reaching the boiling point, a meteor has left its mark and Elma York is on her way to Mars, even as political turmoil threatens her mission.

N.K. Jemisin | 11:50 minutes

"The City We Became" (Orbit) is a story of culture, identity, magic and myths in contemporary New York City by Hugo Award winner and bestselling author N.K. Jemisin. In it, five New Yorkers must come together to defend their city from an ancient evil that has citizens in its grip.

Tomi Adeyemi | 22:03 minutes

In "Children of Virtue and Vengeance" (Henry Holt), the second book of the Legacy of Orisha, Tomi Adeyemi picks up the thread she began in "Children of Blood and Bone," taking Zélie into a civil war between the monarchy and the maji. As one critic said, the novel "poses thought-provoking questions about race, class and authority that hold up a warning mirror to our sharply divided society."

Walter Mosley | 30:52 minutes

Bestselling mystery author Walter Mosley has proven himself a master of narrative tension, both with his extraordinary fiction and gripping writing for television. "The Awkward Black Man: Stories" (Grove) collects 17 of Mosley's most accomplished short stories to showcase the full range of his talent. Interview by Maureen Corrigan, NPR book critic.

History & Biography

David Rubenstein | 27:02 minutes

In the essential leadership playbook, "How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders and Game Changers" (Simon & Schuster), David Rubenstein plumbs the principles and guiding philosophies of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey and many others through illuminating conversations about their remarkable lives and careers. In conversation with veteran journalist Andrea Mitchell.

Eric Foner | 21:35 minutes

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar Eric Foner, "The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution" (Norton) is a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation's foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. "The Second Founding" launches at the Festival.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar | 30:25 minutes

Erica Armstrong Dunbar's "She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman" (37 Ink) is a lively, informative and illustrated tribute to an American heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonate today. Filled with rare outtakes of commentary, an expansive timeline of Tubman's life, photos and commissioned illustrations, the book is a stunning and powerful mix of pop culture and scholarship.

Heather Cox Richardson | 20:36 minutes

While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson's new provocative work, "How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America" (Oxford University), argues that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system of racial dominance that had sustained the South soon moved west and established a foothold. Settlers proceeded to seize Mexican land and oppress Native Americans, cementing racial hierarchies.

Jenna Bush Hager | 32:19 minutes

The former first daughter and granddaughter, bestselling author and co-anchor of the "Today" show, Jenna Bush Hager shares moving, funny stories about her beloved grandparents and the wisdom they passed on to her. Hager launches her new book, "Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss" (William Morrow), at the Festival. Interview with Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation and senior vice president of Knopf Doubleday.

Jon Meacham | 14:47 minutes

Jon Meacham, one of America's best-known historians, has written about American presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson and George H.W. Bush, as well as sweeping histories that get at the spirit of this country. Here, he speaks about "His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope" (Random House), his biography of civil rights icon John Lewis, a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and about Lewis's lifelong quest for racial justice.

Laura Bush | 2:58 minutes

Laura Bush is a former first lady of the United States and co-founder of the National Book Festival. She is also a former librarian. Her recent book is "Our Great Big Backyard" (HarperCollins).

Levers of Power | 42:08 minutes

Peter Baker and Susan Glasser launch their new book "The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III" (Doubleday) at the Festival in a conversation with George Packer, "Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century" (Knopf), moderated by Judy Woodruff of "PBS NewsHour." From three of America's most revered political journalists come two definitive biographies of legendary American statesmen, who differed amply in style but both served their country as loyal public servants.

Lincoln, the Presidency, and the Press | 41:21 minutes

Harold Holzer, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle between the White House and the Media—from the Founding Fathers to Fake News" (Dutton), appears in conversation with Ted Widmer, "Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington" (Simon & Schuster). Award-winning historian Holzer offers an account of American presidents' attacks on our freedom of the press—from George Washington to Donald Trump—while American historian and librarian Widmer tells of Lincoln, during the deepest crisis in American history, boarding a train for his inauguration in Washington even as Southerners vowed to prevent his presidency. Moderated by biographer and executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, Kai Bird.

Madeleine Albright | 40:13 minutes

Six-time New York Times bestselling author and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—one of the world's most admired and tireless public servants—reflects on the final stages of one's career. Her recent book is "Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir" (Harper). Interview with David Rubenstein.

Sarah M. Broom | 18:52 minutes

"The Yellow House" (Grove) is a haunting and unforgettable memoir—winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction—about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East. Debut author Sarah M. Broom tells the 100-year story of her family and their notions of home in a neglected area of one of America's most storied cities.

Seasons of Change in America | 39:55 minutes

Nicholas Lemann, "Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), appears in conversation with Rick Perlstein, "Reaganland: America's Right Turn 1976-1980" (Simon & Schuster). Lemann, the dean emeritus at Columbia Journalism School, explains the United States'―and the world's―great transformation by examining three individuals from FDR's time to Silicon Valley, who epitomized and helped create their eras. Perlstein, in contrast, tells the story of how Reagan happened, tracing conservatives' strategies to gain power and explaining why they endured four decades later in Trump. Moderated by Washington Post veteran columnist Steven Pearlstein.

The Road to Populism | 46:29 minutes

Christopher Caldwell, "The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties" (Simon & Schuster), appears in conversation with Thomas Frank, "The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism" (Metropolitan). Caldwell makes the case that the reforms of the 1960s—intended to make the nation more just and humane—left many Americans feeling alienated, despised and ready to put an adventurer in the White House. Frank, on the other hand, offers an eye-opening account of populism, the most important and misunderstood movement of our time. Moderated by NPR correspondent Eric Deggans.

Walter Isaacson | 5:57 minutes

Walter Isaacson is the author of many bestselling biographies, including "Kissinger," "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life," "Einstein: His Life and Universe," "Steve Jobs" and, most recently, "Leonardo da Vinci" (Simon & Schuster). He here speaks about the elements of ingenuity, especially his subjects' most powerful, nurturing gift—that of the imagination.

Poetry & Prose

Amy Tan | 9:34 minutes

Amy Tan began her career with her groundbreaking novel about Chinese-American families, "The Joy Luck Club." Its phenomenal success was followed by her equally successful novels, "The Kitchen God's Wife" and "The Bonesetter's Daughter." In her new memoir, "Where the Past Begins: Memory and Imagination" (Ecco), she talks about how memory and ancestral history have guided her in her lifelong work as a novelist.

Joy Harjo | 6:16 minutes

Joy Harjo is the 23rd and current United States Poet Laureate—the first Native American to receive the honor. A member of the Muskogee (Creek) nation, her most recent poetry collection is "An American Sunrise: Poems" (Norton), from which she here reads the poem "Running." Her recent anthology is "When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry" (Norton).

Juan Felipe Herrera | 10:14 minutes

Juan Felipe Herrera was the 21st United States Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017 and the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position. His newest poetry collection, which is launching at this festival, is "Every Day We Get More Illegal" (City Lights). He reads from it here in the poem "Color Tense (a fracture of power and paradigm)."

Literary Lives | 33:04 minutes

Mark Doty, "What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life" (Norton), appears in conversation with Jenn Shapland, "My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir" (Tin House). Effortlessly blending biography, criticism and memoir, National Book Award-winning poet and bestselling memoirist Mark Doty explores his personal quest for Walt Whitman, while Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie. Moderated by Crosby Kemper, executive director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Poetry on the Air | 32:50 minutes

Franny Choi, "Soft Science: Poems" (Alice James), joins the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Forward Prize, Danez Smith, "Homie: Poems" (Graywolf), to give a behind-the-scenes look at their podcast series Vs. as well as discuss the enduring power of poetry. Moderated by Ydalmi Noriega, community and foundation relations director at the Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud | 20:28 minutes

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter hosts a program celebrating Poetry Out Loud, the popular poetry recitation contest for high school students, which since 2005 has grown to reach more than 4 million students and 65,000 teachers from 16,000 schools. Featuring 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown and poet Adrian Matejka as well as 2019 Poetry Out Loud national winners and a selection of recitations from the 2020 state winners.

Poets Laureate on Connection | 31:04 minutes

Rita Dove, "Collected Poems: 1974-2004" (Norton) speaks with Joy Harjo, "An American Sunrise: Poems" (Norton). Dove was the first African American Poet Laureate of the United States (1993-1995), and Harjo is the current U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Native American to serve in the position. Here they share remembrances of their time as students together and discuss changes in our culture and literature since.

Robert Pinsky | 5:24 minutes

Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented three terms as the United States Poet Laureate. Founder of the Favorite Poem Project, he teaches at Boston University and is the editor, most recently, of the anthology "The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall: Poems at the Extremes of Feeling" (Norton). He here reads "Instrument," a poem from his collection "At the Foundling Hospital."

Sandra Cisneros | 15:51 minutes

Sandra Cisneros is one of the most celebrated Latino authors of her generation, best known for her first novel, "The House on Mango Street." A poet, essayist, novelist and Chicana activist, she here speaks about the importance of empathy, a writer's need to have an open heart and the many ways that difficult times have spurred her work and imagination. Her recent book is "A House of My Own: Stories from My Life" (Vintage).

The Examined Self | 28:53 minutes

Carmen Maria Machado, "In the Dream House: A Memoir" (Graywolf), joins Elizabeth Tallent, "Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism" (Harper), in a conversation about their respective memoirs and the experience of delving deep into their pasts to better understand themselves. Machado's memoir is an engrossing and innovative account of a relationship gone bad; Tallent's memoir is equally innovative, dwelling on the ferocious desire for perfection that has shaped her writing as well as her surprising personal life. Moderated by Colleen Shogan, senior vice president and director of the David Rubenstein Center for White House History at the White House Historical Association and vice chair of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission.

The Virtues of Brevity | 31:32 minutes

Susan Minot, "Why I Don't Write: And Other Stories" (Knopf), shares experiences with Karen Russell, "Orange World and Other Stories" (Knopf). Two masters of the short story talk about their craft, the ways they work and the enchantments of the briefer form. Minot is the award-winning author of many novels and collections, including "Monkeys," "Lust" and "Thirty Girls." Russell, author of "Vampires in the Lemon Grove" and "Swamplandia!," has a comedic genius for outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner lives. Moderated by Oscar Villalon, managing editor of the literary journal ZYZZYVA and a contributing editor of Literary Hub.

Tracy K. Smith | 4:21 minutes

Tracy K. Smith served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019 and is now chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. A Pulitzer Prize winner for her 2011 collection, "Life on Mars," she here reads "The United States Welcomes You" from her latest collection of poetry, "Wade in the Water: Poems" (Graywolf). Her recent anthology is "American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time" (Graywolf).

Science

Ann Druyan | 29:53 minutes

In "Cosmos: Possible Worlds" (National Geographic), the sequel to Carl Sagan's blockbuster "Cosmos"—written by Sagan's widow and collaborator, Ann Druyan—we continue an electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom.

Katherine Eban | 18:08 minutes

From award-winning journalist Katherine Eban, "Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom" (Ecco) is an explosive narrative investigation of the generic drug boom that reveals fraud and life-threatening dangers on a global scale—achieving for the pharmaceutical industry what Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" did for the meatpacking industry.

Insect World | 26:00 minutes

Edward D. Melillo, "The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World" (Knopf), appears in conversation with Wendy Williams, "The Language of Butterflies: How Thieves, Hoarders, Scientists and Other Obsessives Unlocked the Secrets of the World's Favorite Insect" (Simon & Schuster). Amherst professor Melillo gives us an insightful, entertaining dive in the fruitful, centuries-long relationship between humans and insects, while Williams—bestselling author of "The Horse"—explores the lives of one of the world's most beloved insects. Moderated by NPR science commentator Joe Palca.

Mario Livio | 15:00 minutes

In "Galileo: And the Science Deniers" (Simon & Schuster), astrophysicist and successful popularizer of science and mathematics Mario Livio offers a fresh interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history's great and most fascinating scientists, shedding new light on Galileo's discoveries and recounting the challenges he faced from science deniers.

Sarah Scoles | 19:08 minutes

In "They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers" (Pegasus), veteran science writer Sarah Scoles gives us an anthropological glimpse into the UFO community. Scoles tells of her experiences with researchers—believers in space alien visitations as well as skeptics—as they pursue mysteries, both terrestrial and cosmic.

The Ray Bradbury Effect | 32:01 minutes

Ann Druyan, "Cosmos: Possible Worlds" (National Geographic), and Leland Melvin, "Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace and Second Chances" (Amistad), talk about Ray Bradbury's effect on their lives and their work. The Bradbury centennial is currently being celebrated by fiction writers, astronomers, astronauts and readers throughout the world. Melvin is one of NASA's first African American astronauts. Ann Druyan, widow of astronomer Carl Sagan, is a space exploration writer and the producer of many documentaries on the space age. Moderated by Jonathan Eller, director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.

Understanding Our World

Big Brother Is Watching | 42:02 minutes

Barton Gellman, "Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State" (Penguin), appears in conversation with Thomas Rid, "Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and Washington Post columnist and spy novelist David Ignatius (moderator), "The Paladin: A Spy Novel" (Norton). Gellman's narrative of the modern surveillance state is based on unique access to Edward Snowden and groundbreaking reportage, while Rid's revelatory and dramatic history of disinformation traces the rise of operations from before World War II to contemporary internet troll farms. In contrast, Ignatius's novel, "The Paladin," treats a daring, high-tech CIA operation that goes wrong and is disavowed, setting an agent on revenge.

Confronting Racism and Bigotry | 37:17 minutes

From Ibram X. Kendi, the National Book Award-winning author of "How to Be an Antiracist" (One World), comes a groundbreaking approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality. From Saeed Jones, winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction, comes "How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir" (Simon & Schuster), a devastating memoir about power (who has it, how and why we deploy it) and frailty. Moderated by NPR correspondent Michel Martin.

Daniel Markovits | 22:43 minutes

From eminent Yale Law professor Daniel Markovits, "The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class and Devours the Elite" (Penguin) presents a revolutionary new argument attacking the false promise of meritocracy, the axiom of American life that advantage should be earned through ability and effort.

Haben Girma | 18:35 minutes

"Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law" (Twelve) is the incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her journey from isolation to extraordinary accomplishment. Girma's advocacy for people with disabilities won her the Helen Keller Achievement Award as well as praise from President Obama, who named her White House Champion of Change.

How Liberty Flourishes | 36:53 minutes

Jared Diamond, "Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis" (Little, Brown), appears in conversation with James A. Robinson, "The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies and the Fate of Liberty" (Penguin). Diamond's book centers on why some nations recover from trauma and others don't, positing a more contemporary version of his bestselling "Guns, Germs and Steel." Robinson's book (co-authored with Daron Acemoglu) answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others. Moderated by the executive director of Zócalo Public Square, Moira Shourie.

Jason Reynolds | 24:21 minutes

Jason Reynolds, the Library of Congress's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, talks about "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You" (Little, Brown), the bestselling book that he and African-American studies scholar Ibram X. Kendi have produced to give us a timely, crucial and empowering exploration of racism—and antiracism—in America.

Melinda Gates | 30:32 minutes

For the past 20 years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down. Her new book is "The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World" (Flatiron). Interview with David Rubenstein.

Reinventing the Festival | 39:13 minutes

To talk about the ways this book festival and so many others are having to reimagine themselves in the age of COVID-19 and the virtual world, Marie Arana (literary director of the Library of Congress and the National Book Festival) joins Peter Florence (founder of the Hay Festival), Cristina Fuentes La Roche (executive director of the Hay Festival), Mitchell Kaplan (co-founder of the Miami Book Fair) and Lois Kim (executive director of the Texas Book Festival).

Richard Haass | 31:52 minutes

"The World: A Brief Introduction" (Penguin) is an invaluable primer from Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, that is meant to help experts and non-experts alike navigate a time in which many of our biggest challenges come from the world beyond our borders. Interview by David Rubenstein.

Robert M. Gates | 41:20 minutes

From the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed bestselling memoir "Duty," Robert M. Gates' "Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World" (Knopf) is a candid, sweeping examination of power in all its manifestations and how it has been exercised, for good and bad, by American presidents in the post-Cold War world. Interview by David Rubenstein.

 Back to top