Here in the Triangle, we know that if you throw a rock you might hit an author or two. This weekend, you might hit a dozen. Or more.
After a three-year absence, the otherwise biannual North Carolina Literary Festival returns to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus for the first time since 2002 with a lineup of featured speakers that includes John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, Anna Deavere Smith, Elizabeth Edwards and Pulitzer Prize winners Rick Bragg and Elizabeth Strout.
The weekend, billed as "A Celebration of Reading and Writing," will feature more than 102 authors (local and national) representing many genres, in events laced with music, storytelling and documentaries as diverse as the distinct regions of our state.
In the months leading up to the event, six local authors hoofed it across the state in a first-time promotional junket called "Authors on the Road." Accordingly, P.T. Deutermann, Allan Gurganus, Randall Kenan, Joan Medlicott, Charles Price and Daniel Wallace traveled to locations from Asheville to Wilmington, reading at public libraries across the state in an effort to connect regions that might not otherwise partake in the festival.
Like kissing cousins unsure of where family ends and friendship begins, mentors and the mentored will discuss their roles in a special session with Jill McCorkle, Sarah Dessen and Courtney Jones Mitchell. You'll hear how McCorkle was mentored by Lee Smith, Dessen was mentored by McCorkle and Jones Mitchell was mentored by Dessen.
This year's event is the first to highlight children's writers, illustrators and storytellers. In the Activity Tent, readings will include puppet theater, musicians, storytellers and theatrical performances of children's books.
There will also be musical performances, including Good Ol' Girls, in which authors Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith will read from their works while Nashville musicians Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg perform songs; and author Clyde Edgerton and musician Mike Carver, performing a musical rendition of Edgerton's novel The Bible Salesman.
Expect a weekend that celebrates not only the reading and writing of our region, but the essence of its oral storytelling history.
The North Carolina Literary Festival, Sept 10-13, is free and open to the public. Keynote events in Memorial Hall are free but require tickets obtained in advance from the box office: Call 843-3333. For a schedule of events: www.ncliteraryfestival.org. For food-related events at the festival, see Now Serving.