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.
Festival Kickoff Celebrating the Mississippi Writers Trail and unveiling of markers
Presented by the State of Mississippi and the Community Foundation for Mississippi
Join us as we set the 2019 Mississippi Book Festival in motion and unveil the first two markers of the Mississippi Writers Trail. Acclaimed and influential writers throughout the state will be honored with historical markers along the Mississippi Writers Trail and we are thrilled to unveil those recognizing the significant work of Richard Ford and Ida B. Wells. Many state leaders, friends and family will be there to help celebrate this milestone.
Partners in this historic achievement include the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Library Commission.
A Spotlight on Mississippi Civil Rights
Presented by Entergy and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Little-known stories from the civil rights era shine in the spotlight, deepening understanding of this crucial period.
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
Presented by Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Find ways the storied region springs to colorful life, from the memories of natives and in the photos and tales of riverboat pilots.
Welty and Race
Presented by Pigott Law Firm
Contributors to the new collection of essays discuss Welty’s portrayal of race in the Jim Crow South.
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
Presented by Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and the de Grummond Collection at USM
The worldwide bestselling creator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man launches his “Do Good” tour at the Mississippi Book Festival. First 500 kids receive a FREE book!
Women in Fiction
Presented by The Source by BankPlus
Female protagonists rule in this gathering of authors whose books are funny, haunting, profound, poignant, audacious, and anchored in the strong bonds of family and friends.
The Magic of Picture Books
Presented by Sara and Bill Ray
Picture book authors share the powerful punch illustrations add to their fanciful, charming stories of naughty cats, hungry llamas, adventurous owls, and more.
Sonia Sotomayor with Margaret McMullan
American History: Renegades
Presented by Mississippi Library Commission
Early East Coast and outlaw Wild West get a nonfiction lens as authors look at the nation’s history in the hands of pirates and gunslingers.
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
Presented by Sarah McCullough
First-time novelists bring fresh insights as their characters navigate the troublesome waters of a horrifying, not-so-distant future, strained family ties, and connections forged through a tragic crime.
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
Presented by University of Mississippi Friends of the Library
Get swept up in the expansive fiction of these widely acclaimed authors and the insights their novels offer on the legacy of violence, the courage of pioneering immigrants, and the shaping of the American identity.
All About Mississippi
A conversation about all the things Mississippi led by one of our state’s most beloved cartoonists.
Presented by The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi
Find out more about packing big thoughts into smaller packages with humor, candor, and soul from a trio who’ve found success doing just that.
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
Presented by Entergy and Visit Jackson
Examine how the Well-Read Black Girl movement weaves together readers, groups, and the online community through the love of books.
Presented by Cornerstone Consulting Group, Inc.
Successful young adult (YA) fantasy authors take your imagination for a ride into bold, enchanted landscapes with magical characters that still resonate with earthbound mortals.
Echoes of the Past
Presented by Carroll, Warren & Parker
Step back in time with novelists whose evocative stories tap the settings of history — racial injustice in the 1940s, the Romanov family execution, pre-Roe vs. Wade America — for more nuanced perspectives on the present.
Civil Rights: An American Issue
Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council and Gregg Harper
An illuminating look at figures both on the stage and in the wings in the national struggle toward civil rights for all.
Photography, an Image of History
Presented by Carolyn and Chris Ray and Fischer Galleries
Explore how photography is a medium to archive the legacy of the South.
Presented by Pass Christian Books and Mississippi Humanities Council
Delve deep with authors whose memoirs — heartrending, uplifting, quirky, provocative and surprising — share key revelations on the human condition.
The Thrill of Mystery
Presented by Bean and Floyd Sulser
Revel in suspense with the authors who can craft it into fine storytelling with more than a few surprises.
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.
Hear four young adult (YA) authors hot on the heels of new releases that span the genre from best friends grappling with an uncertain future to coming-of-age in the modern world.
LGBTQ+: Southern Perspectives
True Crime Across America
Presented by Nancy and Cecil Brown
Gangster-era Chicago, serial murder in 1970s Alabama, and a bootlegger king — a deep dive into true crime and tales of greed on the national front.
Photography and Culture
Presented by the University of Southern Mississippi Center for the Study of the Gulf South
Explore the power of photography with photographers who have captured the culture of the South.
Richard Ford with Joyce Carol Oates
Candace Bushnell with Judy Hottensen
Presented by Holly and Alan Lange
Best-selling author of Sex and the City and Is There Still Sex in the City? Candace Bushnell will join her original editor and Grove Atlantic Associate Publisher Judy Hottensen in conversation about life and love in New York City.
Crime and the Law
Presented by Wise, Carter, Child & Caraway
Crime meets the law in these true stories anchored in the region and ranging far and wide.
Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly
Presented by Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi Humanities Council
Words are like jewels in the hands of eminent poets, so expect the conversation to sparkle as the Poet Laureate of Mississippi and the former U.S. and Mississippi Poet Laureate sit down and visit.
McMullan Young Writers Workshop
Presented by Millsaps College
Writing teachers and alumni of the McMullan Young Writers Workshop share insights about what it means to teach, write, and grow in an immersive creative environment.
Presented by Capitol Resources
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of historic Malaco Records and delve into the best of the Mississippi blues.
World War II
Presented by First Commercial Bank
Find contemporary resonance in the powerful story of German Jews and the brave individuals who risked it all under the threat of Nazi Germany.