The Mississippi Book Festival’s fifth anniversary proved a banner year for book fans as attendance rocketed to a record 9,300-plus, and hundreds more enjoyed the festive vibe outdoors. A giant orange cube in an open book turned the festival’s logo into selfie gold and an irresistible photo op on the State Capitol sidewalk. More than 245 authors packed the festival’s 47 official panels and Authors Alley. Fans reveled in the warm candor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the lighthearted banter of old friends Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates, the romantic travails of Candace Bushnell, and the high-energy output of Dav Pilkey. From Ann Patchett’s observations to Natasha Trethewey’s poems, Harrison Scott Key’s hilarity to Angie Thomas’ insights, audiences were rapt, riveted, rolling in the aisles and reckoning with their world. A Mississippi Writers Trail salute unveiled markers for Ford and for journalist Ida B. Wells at the outset. The festival’s preceding days were full, too, as Pilkey and Sotomayor engaged 5,600 students in downtown Jackson (and sent each home with a free book), and Gulf Coast and Delta kick-off events and author school visits gathered momentum. All together, that totaled a 15,200-strong outreach and turned the fifth literary lawn party into a 72-hour celebration of the written word. 2019 Funders >
Festival Kickoff Celebrating the Mississippi Writers Trail and unveiling of markers
A Spotlight on Mississippi Civil Rights
Presented by Butler Snow
Laugh along as wise and witty writers observe life with the gentleness of a knowing chuckle or the sharp edge of a raucous skewer.
Mississippi: The Delta
Welty and Race
Presented by University of Mississippi Department of English and MFA Program
Join these poets on the journey toward mindfulness and the eye-opening revelations such keen focus can bring.
Dav Pilkey: Kidnote
Women in Fiction
The Magic of Picture Books
Sonia Sotomayor with Margaret McMullan
American History: Renegades
Journalism is Dead. Long Live Journalism.
Presented by Mississippi State University
Food never found better friends than this collection of authors who cover the spread with heart, health, humor, and a party spirit.
Best Debut Novels of 2019
For the Love of the Game
Grab a seat for stories on the field of play and the field of life in the midst of a football-loving culture.
Marlantes and Powers
All About Mississippi
Bill Dunlap Hour
Mississippi artist, author and all-around bon vivant brings special guests to talk all things Mississippi. You never know who will show up when Bill Dunlap throws a party!
Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council and Mississippi State University
Gain insights from battlegrounds of war and the home front in the South, with authors’ studies of Ulysses S. Grant, family problems and women soldiers.
One-on-One with Michael Dobbs
Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council
Michael Dobbs, historian and author of The Unwanted, published in conjunction with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum initiative “Americans and the Holocaust,” takes a closer look at WWII with Mississippi Humanities Council Executive Director Stuart Rockoff.
Well-Read Black Girl
Echoes of the Past
Civil Rights: An American Issue
Photography, an Image of History
The Thrill of Mystery
Presented by Butler Snow and University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Hear the distinct voices behind compelling and poignant tales about the human condition and a place we thought we already knew.
LGBTQ+: Southern Perspectives
True Crime Across America
Photography and Culture
Richard Ford with Joyce Carol Oates
Candace Bushnell with Judy Hottensen
Crime and the Law
Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly
McMullan Young Writers Workshop
World War II