‘Capitol Hill Book Tour — All in One Place’

Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:17pm

Almost 30 authors who call Capitol Hill home will gather to discuss — and hawk — their books with their Capitol Hill neighbors at the upcoming Literary Hill BookFest.

On May 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the authors — who include Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times best-sellers and Washington Post journalists — will give talks, sell their books and mingle with the crowd in Eastern Market’s North Hall for the second annual event.

The brainchild of Karen Lyon, managing editor of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Folger Magazine, the festival was created last year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Lyon’s Literary Hill column in the Hill Rag, a community newspaper on Capitol Hill. The monthly column reviews three books by authors who live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“I am continually amazed by the fact that I’ve been doing this for 11 years now and I still haven’t run out of books to review,” Lyon said of the depth and talent of the Capitol Hill author community.

Louis Bayard, an author, Capitol Hill resident and participant in the upcoming festival, said the event is a great way for the community to put a face to the names of local authors.

“It’s funny, a lot of Capitol Hill residents don’t realize how many authors live in their midst,” Bayard said. “Come to think of it, I didn’t know it until Karen Lyon started doing her series for the Hill Rag. And I’m not talking about Members of Congress, I’m talking about people who live and work here and raise their kids here and give back to the community. So this is a great way to put a face on those folks. And a great way for authors to get themselves and their work in front of readers.”

Bayard, who writes historical mysteries, including his 2011 release “The School of Night,” said he’s excited to attend a book festival in his own backyard.

“You know, when you do a book tour, your publisher sends you to places like Politics & Prose and Barnes & Noble, which are great in their own way. But since the demise of Trover Books, there’s no comparable place on the Hill. … So this is our Capitol Hill book tour — all in one place.”

Other authors who will attend the festival include: Mary Z. Gray, a 93-year-old lifelong resident of Capitol Hill who published a memoir this year about her family’s funeral parlor located at 301 East Capitol St.; Marguerite Kelly, whose column “The Family Almanac” appears in the Washington Post; New York Times best-selling author James Swanson, author of books on the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth and Jefferson Davis; and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten.

“Every month, I’m amazed by the great books people send me to review, and to think that there’s all that talent here on the Hill is just astounding and a great incentive to come out [to the festival],” Lyon said.