Festival Staff / December 12, 2016
Friends and lovers of the festival gathered on Sunday afternoon to enjoy each other’s company, greet old friends, and discover who would be attending March’s big event, the ninth annual Tucson Festival of Books.
If you’ve never been to this event before, it’s quite a treat. Not only do you get first look at the authors and special events the committee members are most excited about, but you also get to start your shopping, as it's held in the University of Arizona Bookstore—whether it’s for you or other people is your call.
The event began with special presentations. Bruce Beach welcomed Tucson Medical Center back as a Presenting Sponsor. They were one of the first sponsors of the festival, and they’ve returned in this ninth year to continue the legacy.
The second special presentation was poignant and exciting. Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved in last year's festival, Tucson Festival of Books was able to donate 195,000 dollars to literacy programs in Southern Arizona, including Literacy Connects. The total amount the festival has donated since making the determination to donate 100 percent of their proceeds to literacy programs has now reached 1.455 million dollars. Over one million dollars! How exciting is that?
Once those presentations were done, we got to the meat of the party: the authors.
Since the Festival is an enormous event, listing every author would sound like a Day of Remembrance, with nothing but an endless reading of names. Instead, this is a time where committee chairs or other designated members for most of the festival's represented genres and themes can express their excitement about particular authors they can’t wait for us to see in March.
Introductions to each author and the book that would be featured at the festival included little tidbits of information and quick quips that might be lost if your attention wavered for just a second. (“Content warning,” smirks the committee member introducing American Pharaoh and its author Joe Drape. “This book starts with a sex scene.” Cue audience laughter.)
The overall theme of the event was definitely “we have arrived.” For nine years, the festival has been building something that deserves national attention and recognition. As it’s crept up to become the third largest book festival in the nation, with over 300 authors and millions of visitors attending each year, Tucson Festival of Books can only continue to rise. This was made clear when Author Chair (and Pima County Public Library Literary Arts Librarian) Helene Woodhams revealed that there would be a Salute to the National Book Awards, featuring seven NBA honorees and Lisa Lucas, the National Book Award’s Executive Director. Two of the honorees are recipients of the 2016 Award, Colson Whitehead and Ibram X. Kendi, who respectively received the awards for fiction and nonfiction.
Other highlighted authors include:
Want to know more about the authors and panels that will be featured at the 2017 festival? Keep an eye on this space! The Festival Blog is where you can come in the future to see author interviews, panel features, and other fun things related to the festival.
Jessica Pryde is the managing editor of the Tucson Festival of Books Festival Blog. She writes for several online publications including Book Riot and Women Write About Comics, as well as the Pima County Public Library.