This year's Texas Book Festival, running November 11 and 12 in Austin, features talks and panel discussions with more than 300 authors. Speakers include Stacey Abrams, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Michael Cunningham, Walter Isaacson, Jonathan Lethem, Ann Patchett, Amy Thielen, Angie Thomas, Abraham Verghese, and Jacqueline Woodson.
"For one weekend every year, the Texas Book Festival transforms downtown Austin into a haven for authors, book lovers and those simply looking for an inspiring way to spend the weekend," said Dalia Azim, Texas Book Festival’s interim executive director. "This year, attendees can look forward to a stellar lineup featuring many of the leading voices in contemporary fiction, nonfiction, YA and children's literature. As always, we were proud to offer something for everyone."
Azim noted that one big change this year is the inclusion of more Spanish-language authors. “With Texas’s recent reclassification as a majority-minority state, the effort to strengthen Spanish-language programming has never felt more timely or essential,” Azim said. “The expansion of Spanish programming marks the start of a new commitment and strategic priority for this long-running book festival. For the first time, as part of its submissions process, TBF asked authors if they would be interested in participating in Spanish-language programming, and 18% said that they would.”
The festival is featuring this new Spanish language programming, named Leamos: Hispanic and Latine Writers & Literature in Spanish, in a dedicated tent. The Spanish-language authors speaking include Sylvia Aguilar-Zéleny, Rosa Beltrán, Andrea Cáceres, Alma García, Cristina Garcia, Tim Z. Hernandez, Sebastián H Páramo, JD Pluecker, and Esmeralda Santiago, among others.
TBF’s inaugural year of programs fully in Spanish are spotlighting numerous recent publications, including Contar Historias: Escritura Creativa en el Aula. The work is a collection of essays and stories written in Spanish by undergraduate and graduate students who took courses offered by the Spanish Creative Writing Initiative in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin. The book showcases the creative work of heritage speakers who have never previously written a creative work in Spanish; students for whom Spanish is a second, third, and even fourth language; and native speakers. “The diversity of voices from an array of cultural, linguistic, and geographical backgrounds collected in this volume reflects the multiplicity of ways in which Spanish appeals to students,” Azim said.
Other works being to be discussed include El hombre que movia las nubes, the Spanish edition of the critically acclaimed memoir The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Colombian writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Anchor), and Radicales libres, the original Spanish edition of Free Radicals by Mexican novelist Rose Beltrán.
One highlight of the Leamos programming will be a panel that pairs the photographer Roj Rodriguez, author of Mi Sangre and the novelist Rudy Ruiz, author of Valle de Sombras, discussing the U.S.–Mexico border. “Rodriguez’s personal journey to trace his Mexican heritage through photography took him back and forth across the border, where he documented and celebrated Mexican culture on both sides, while Ruiz offered neo-Western work of fiction that explores the dark side, horror, and injustice of life on the border,” Azim said.
In addition to the aforementioned programming, the festival also offers bilingual storytime programs for children and families, featuring children’s books that are published in both Spanish and English for bilingual children and English-language learners.
This year’s bilingual picture books includes Spanish is the Language of my Family/El Español es la lengua de mi familia by Michael Genhart, illus. by John Parra (Penguin Random House); Still Dreaming/Seguimos soñando by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, illus. Magdalena Mora (Lee & Low); Fresh Juice/Jugo fresco by Robert Liu-Trujillo (Lee & Low), and Martina Has Too Many Tías/Martina tiene muchas tías by Emma Otheguy (S&S).
The Texas Book Festival is free to the public, and takes place in and around the state capitol building of Texas.