Southern Festival of Books Announces New Location for 2023 Event

photo courtesy of Southern Festival of Books

The Southern Festival of Books will celebrate its 35th anniversary October 20-22, 2023, with an exciting move to Bicentennial Mall, Tennessee State Museum, and Tennessee State Library, announced festival producer Humanities Tennessee.

The time-honored annual event, which will feature appearances by roughly 150 authors, will be open to the public on Saturday, October 21, and Sunday, October 22, for panel sessions, discussions, and readings from a wide variety of genres including fiction and nonfiction, young adult literature, poetry, science fiction, and mystery. For the first time in the festival’s history, Friday, October 20, will be a designated Student Day, welcoming 1,000 students from Davidson County schools for author meet-and-greets, book giveaways, and educational programming. Featured festival books will be available for purchase and can be signed by authors throughout the weekend. Parnassus Books is the festival bookseller.

The beloved Authors in the Round Dinner, co-chaired by Laura Smith and LoLita Toney, will be held on Friday, October 20, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Authors in the Round, which allows guests to dine alongside 40 regionally and nationally known authors, is the festival’s signature fundraiser, ensuring that Humanities Tennessee can present the annual festival free of charge.

“Our 2022 festival, which marked our return to an in-person event after nearly three years, was more successful than we could’ve imagined. We are looking forward to an even greater year to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Southern Festival of Books, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Humanities Tennessee,” says Tim Henderson, Humanities Tennessee executive director. “We have much to celebrate this year, and we are thrilled to mark these momentous milestones at a new location. Bicentennial Mall, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Tennessee State Library will be the perfect backdrop for another exciting year of celebrating the written word in Tennessee.”

Southern Festival of Books is anticipating participation from roughly 150 authors for the 35th annual event, including Harvard University President Emeritus Drew Gilpin Faust; New York Times bestselling author and Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection Megan Miranda; bestselling author and recent National Humanities Medal recipient Ann Patchett; award-winning and bestselling author Lee Smith; and Nashville-based author and New York Times columnist Margaret Renkl. The full list of authors will be released at the Author Reveal Party on July 20 at the Tennessee State Museum. More details about the Author Reveal Party will be released in the coming months.

Throughout its 35-year history, the festival has welcomed thousands of authors, including some of the most critically acclaimed of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, such as Rick Bragg, Joshua Cohen, Celeste Ng, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Ruta Sepetys, Andrew Sean Greer, and Natasha Threthewey, to name a few. The festival also plays host to numerous performance stages, food trucks, and literary activities for the whole family.

In the week leading up to the festival, Humanities Tennessee will be partnering with a number of literary events happening across Nashville, including the National Black Poetry Festival on Sunday, Oct. 15, and a ticketed author event with John Scalzi at Parnassus Books on Thursday, Oct. 19. Additional information about programming will be released in the coming months.

The festival is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission, Ingram Content Group, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

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