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National Book Festival Gets Ready for Readers

Annual Event Expands To Two Days While Adding New Types of Presenters to the Lineup

Academy Award nominees, Pulitzer Prize winners, state poet laureates and best-selling authors will descend on the National Mall this weekend for the National Book Festival.

The free annual gathering of literary minds will feature some new attractions for its 11th installment, which will be held Saturday and Sunday. 

This year marks the first time the festival will span two days, thanks in part to a $5 million donation from David Rubenstein. The former Hill staffer is a co-founder of the Carlyle Group investment firm and co-chairman of the National Book Festival Board.

More than 100 authors, illustrators and poets will discuss their work and take questions from the public, and festival organizers have added three categories to this year’s lineup of presenters: “Cutting Edge,” which is mostly urban fiction; graphic novels; and state poets laureate.

The festival, which was established in 2001 by the Library of Congress and then-first-lady Laura Bush, will include the standard genres of previous years: children, poetry and prose, teens, contemporary life, fiction and mystery, and history and biography. 

Some of the big-name speakers include Julianne Moore, the four-time Academy Award-nominated actress and author of a best-selling children’s book series; Dave Eggers, the literary activist and best-selling memoirist; “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan; and popular teen fantasy fiction writer Cassandra Clare.

The Gateway to Knowledge, a traveling Library of Congress exhibit housed in a tractor-trailer, will return to the festival after a yearlong tour that stopped at 90 towns in the Northeast, South and Midwest. 

The interactive exhibit was designed to introduce the Library’s collections to people who aren’t able to visit its buildings in Washington, D.C. It includes facsimiles of the objects in the collection and a
multimedia display.

The Digital Bookmobile will also be parked at the festival to teach readers about download services offered by community libraries. Visitors can search digital catalogs and sample e-books, audiobooks, music and videos.

The Library of Congress has posted a schedule of events and speakers at its website,

The festival will take place on the National Mall from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. 

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