2021 Texas Book Festival featuring virtual, in-person activities

The 26th annual Texas Book Festival is featuring both virtual and in-person activities for 2021.

The hybrid event began October 23 and lasts through October 31 and the community is invited to join in on the free celebration.

The festival began with virtual young adult Texas Teen Book Festival programming and virtual children’s programming and it's holding virtual adult author programming from October 25 to 31.

Children’s programming continues with select in-person appearances by picture book authors at Symphony Square in downtown Austin on Saturday, October 30, followed by an in-person adult Lit Crawl which will take place from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Adult author programming concludes the festival with select in-person sessions at Austin Public Central Library on Sunday, October 31. 

Registration is required for all in-person sessions and is now available on the Texas Book Festival website. It will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to the capacity limit. All registration is free, except for the ticketed R.J. Palacio and Colson Whitehead sessions.

Below are some highlights of the events that are scheduled for the rest of the festival:


12 p.m.: Sandra Cisneros in Conversation about Martita, I Remember You / Martita, te recuerdo
House on Mango Street author and Texas Writer Award recipient (2005) Sandra Cisneros returns with a story about the permanence of friendship forged by shared struggles and experiences. In this dual-language edition of Martita, I Remember You / Martita te recuerdo, a young Mexican woman, Corina, leaves her family in Chicago to pursue her dream of becoming a writer in Paris. By chance she meets Martita and Paola, and together they support one another as they begin their new lives. Years pass and their paths diverge, until one day Corina discovers a letter that evokes powerful memories about the life-changing bonds of youthful friendships.

2:45 p.m.: 20 Years Later: Talking about 9/11 with Those Too Young to Remember
Children’s books Ground Zero and I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 capture the tales of children thrust into unimaginable horror. Authors Alan Gratz and Lauren Tarshis—each of whom make use of historical fact and storytelling to present narratives that emphasize the links between past and present—discuss their creative processes and the challenges inherent in novelizations of monumental real-world events, and in particular the turn-of-the-millennium event that changed the course of US geopolitics for decades.

10 a.m.: The Plague Year: Pulitzer Prize Winner Lawrence Wright in Conversation with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith
Texas Writer Award recipient (2011) and New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Wright returns to the Texas Book Festival to discuss The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid, an exploration of the medical, economic, political, and social origins and implications of the covid pandemic.

4:45 p.m.: Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice: Rupa Mayra and UT–Austin’s Raj Patel in Conversation
University of California–San Francisco’s Rupa Mayra and activist, bestselling author, and UT-Austin nutrition department researcher Raj Patel chart the connections between our biology and the injustices of our political, social, and economic systems. Join Mayra and Patel as they discuss how decolonizing food and medicine can help begin the healing not only of our bodies but also our planet.

7 p.m.: The National Book Foundation Presents: An Evening with National Book Awards
2021 National Book Award longlisters and potential winners Darcie Little Badger (A Snake Falls to Earth, Young People’s Literature), Desiree C. Bailey (What Noise Against the Cane, Poetry), and Elizabeth McCracken (The Souvenir Museum, Fiction) discuss their work and recognition in advance of the 72nd Annual National Book Awards, presented in partnership with the Texas Book Festival.

10:45 a.m.: Viva Texas Rivers!: Adventures, Misadventures, and Glimpses of Nirvana along Our Storied Waterways 
Viva Texas Rivers! is an illustrated treasure trove of stories, poems, and essays from dozens of Texas literary voices, past and present, exploring their personal connections with the Lone Star State’s waterways. Contributors Steven Davis, Sam Pfiester, Carmen Tafolla, Joe Nick Patoski, and TBF 2021 poster artist Clemente Guzman talk about the making of the book and share their own experiences.

12:45 p.m.: Legends of Texas Music: 
Photographer Tracy Anne Hart (Seeing Stevie Ray) spent nearly a decade capturing moments—both quiet and loud—in the life of legendary Texas-born guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. In Ghost Notes, longtime music journalist Michael Corcoran profiles not only household names but also the far-too-little-knowns of the Texas music pantheon—a Black gay Houston couple who inspired the creation of rock ’n’ roll, for instance. Together Hart and Corcoran discuss these artists’ lives, their legacies, and their impact on music far beyond Texas.

10:00 a.m.: Deception, Deadly Rivals, and Uneasy Alliances: New Fiction from Texas Thriller Authors 
Paul Coggins (The Eye of the Tigress) and bestselling authors Jeff Abbott (An Ambush of Widows) and Amy Gentry (Bad Habits) join to discuss their new novels.

11 a.m.: Boom State: Mayors of Austin, Houston, and San Antonio in Conversation about the "Texas Triangle"
Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston, and Austin–San Antonio (the "Texas Triangle") will soon comprise four of the ten most populous US cities and represent the fifteenth largest economy in the world. Join mayors Henry Cisneros (San Antonio, former), Ron Nirenberg (San Antonio, current), Sylvester Turner (Houston), and Steve Adler (Austin) as they discuss community-building, economic prosperity, and the possibilities and challenges we face in the inexorable march toward global mega-region status.

2:45 p.m.: Beer Made from Fog, Millennia-Old Egg Ovens, Dining in the Sky, and More: A Conversation with Gastro Obscura’s Cecily Wong
Cecily Wong’s Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide is a detailed and richly illustrated testament to  food as a gateway to a greater understanding of history, science, art, and tradition. Join Wong as she discusses how people on all seven continents make food, eat, drink, and come together around the table.

12 p.m.: Elizabeth McCracken and Rumaan Alam in Conversation
In Rumaan Alam’s 2020 National Book Award–nominated novel Leave the World Behind, a family thrust into a national crisis finds themselves learning to navigate the waters of trust with two complete strangers. In Elizabeth McCracken’s 2021 National Book Award–nominated story collection The Souvenir Museum, families come together, grow apart, and have their bonds tested. Join Alam and McCracken as they talk about family dynamics in fiction.


Bavu Blakes, El’s Mirror
David Bowles, My Two Border Towns / Mis dos pueblos fronterizos
Meghan P. Browne, Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards
Haven Iverson, Slow Down, Tumbleweed!
Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey, The Old Boat
Nicolas Solis, The Color Collector
Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes 


10 a.m.: Amor Towles in Conversation about The Lincoln Highway
Amor Towles—New York Times bestselling author of The Gentleman of Moscow—talks about his latest novel, The Lincoln Highway, a multi-perspective story that takes place over ten days and hundreds of miles in 1950s America. 

12 p.m.: Maria Hinojosa in Conversation about Once I Was You 
Maria Hinojosa, veteran journalist and executive producer of Peabody Award–winning program Latino USA, has spent nearly thirty years reporting on immigration and the communities the mainstream media too often overlooks. In new memoir Once I Was You, Hinojosa illustrates—via her own family’s experiences growing up on the South Side of Chicago—a story of migrating to the United States. Join her as she discusses her own experiences and the public impact of the rhetoric surrounding immigration.

2 p.m.: Being Texan: Texas Monthly Editors in Conversation about the Lone Star Way of Life
Texas Monthly editors Kathy Blackwell, Wes Ferguson, José R. Ralat, and Mimi Swartz share with audiences the treasures found in Being Texan: Essays, Recipes, and Advice for the Lone Star Way, a rich anthology of Texas tales, artifacts, and reportage.

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