2018 Festival


The Mississippi Book Festival bounded past the 7,000 attendance mark for the first time in its four-year history. About 7,600 people flocked to the State Capitol complex on Saturday to hear from 240 authors, buy books, get them signed, hobnob with fellow fans and celebrate the written word. The festival’s 2017 edition drew about 6,400 attendees. The kickoff celebration for the daylong literary lawn party honored Mississippi authors. The first two markers of the new Mississippi Writers Trail, recognizing the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, were unveiled to onlookers’ cheers and standing ovations in a poignant ceremony at the festival’s start. Packed crowds squeezed into the sanctuary at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church to hear moving insights by Ward, the whip-smart exchanges of Jon Meacham and Karl Rowe, and the engaging words of Salman Rushdie as he shared a journey from his Bombay roots to a lunch in London with Eudora Welty. Rick Bragg held listeners in his grip, yanking them along on the wild ride of stories from his Alabama upbringing. Children sat rapt as teen actress/author Quvenzhané Wallis read excerpts from her book series on the Capitol lawn in a session so packed, organizers added another one to accommodate the interest. This year, 200-plus volunteers kept the festival on track, as 160-plus authors tackled a spectrum of topics on 40-plus official panels at the Capitol and Galloway church. An additional 84 authors and artists populated Authors Alley. Music, 14 food trucks and 13 independent book sellers fed a festive appetite for entertainment, sustenance and the written word.




In the Southern Kitchen

Presented by Beard and Riser

James Beard Award winner Martha Foose dishes with some of the South’s most celebrated chefs.

  • Martha Foose, restaurateur, chef, storyteller, and author of My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen with Asha Gomez, MODERATOR
  • Elizabeth Heiskell, What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up
  • Susan Puckett, Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen with chef Eddie Hernandez
  • Mark C. Stevens, Cooking with Spices: 100 Recipes for Blends, Marinades and Sauces from Around the World

Bookshop Scoop

Presented by Lemuria Books

The inside scoop straight from the sales floor about what’s hot, what’s not and everything in-between.

  • Valerie Walley, Divisional Director, Penguin Random House, MODERATOR
  • Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
  • Tim Huggins, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
  • Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS
  • Bob White, Sundog Books, Seaside, FL
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Southern Fiction and Redemption

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and University of Mississippi Department of English

Four contemporary fiction writers discuss characters living life on the margins of today’s South.

  • Mary Miller, author of Always Happy Hour: Stories, MODERATOR
  • Jonathan Miles, Anatomy of a Miracle
  • Jamie Quatro, Fire Sermon
  • Michael Farris Smith, The Fighter
Southern Fiction and Redemption Southern Fiction and Redemption Southern Fiction and Redemption

Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine

Presented by Mississippi State University

Southern Foodways Alliance Director John T. Edge and chef, author and Mind of a Chef host Edward Lee discuss flavors and forays into the new melting pot cuisine.

  • John T. Edge, Director of Southern Foodways Alliance and author of Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, MODERATOR
  • Edward Lee, Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine
Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine

A Conversation with Rick Bragg

Presented by The Clarion-Ledger

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg in conversation with investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell.

  • Jerry Mitchell, Investigative Reporter, The Clarion-Ledger, MODERATOR
  • Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table

Julia Reed Under the (Garden &) Gun

Presented by the Community Foundation for Mississippi

Author/humorist Julia Reed dishes candidly with Garden & Gun’s David DiBenedetto about the magazine’s nuanced or out-loud showcase of the authentic South.

  • David DiBenedetto, Editor of Garden & Gun and author of S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco
  • Julia Reed, South Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land
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National Civil Rights History

Presented by Louisa Dixon and Jerry Johnson

Moderated by former CBS news correspondent Randall Pinkston, this national civil rights panel gets up close and personal to explore social justice, racial activism and black liberation.

  • Randall Pinkston, Broadcast Journalist, MODERATOR
  • Janet Dewart Bell, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Sheryll Cashin, Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy
  • Anne Farris Rosen, Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist
National Civil Rights History National Civil Rights History National Civil Rights History

Meet Me in the Middle

Presented by the de Grummond Collection and the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

A kids’ panel rides a roller-coaster overview of top reads for the middle school set.

  • Clara Martin, Manager of Oz Books at Lemuria, MODERATOR
  • Kate Beasley, Lions and Liars
  • Varian Johnson, The Parker Inheritance
  • Veera Hiranandani, The Night Diary
  • Charlotte Jones Voiklis, Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters
  • Merrill Wyatt, Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen

Mississippi in the Middle

Presented by the de Grummond Collection, the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and University of Mississippi MFA Program

Mississippi-rooted middle grade authors discuss how their children’s fiction embodies courage, friendship, mystery and self-discovery.

  • Augusta Scattergood, author of Making Friends with Billy Wong, MODERATOR
  • Jimmy Cajoleas, Goldeline
  • Jo Hackl, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe
  • Deborah Wiles, A Long Line of Cakes
  • Linda Williams Jackson, A Sky Full of Stars
Mississippi in the Middle Mississippi in the Middle Mississippi in the Middle

Southern Music

Presented by Cathead Distillery and Delta Center for Culture and Learning

As diehard fans of and contributors to the history and legacy of Southern music, these panelists will hit a high note with lovers of the South’s authentic music: blues, gospel, folk, rock and more!

  • Scott Barretta, blues journalist, historian and contributor for Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris, MODERATOR
  • William Ferris, Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  • Robert Gordon, Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown
  • Jim O’Neal, Charley Patton: Voice of the Mississippi Delta
Southern Music

Delta Dawn and Dusk

Presented by BKD CPAs & Advisors and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

Authors explore real-life stories and the realities of race, economics and sense of place in the Mississippi Delta.

  • Rolando Herts, Director of Delta State University’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning, MODERATOR
  • Yvette Johnson, The Song and the Silence: A Story About Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright
  • Ellen Meacham, Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi
  • Julian Rankin, Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta
  • Catherine Egley Waggoner, Realizing Our Place: Real Southern Women in a Mythologized Land
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