On Wednesday, the Texas Book Festival announced the first slate of marquee authors for the 2014 edition, and as is usual with this Lone Star literary extravaganza, the eight guests cover the spectrum of the book world: fiction to nonfiction, local to international, new authors to old favorites – all that in just eight individuals.
Eight may not seem like a lot, considering that the Festival typically hosts some 250 authors in its fall weekend of readings, signings, and panel discussions. But with the festival still three months out – if you haven't already circled Oct. 25-26 on your calendar, do so now! – we'll take what we can get.
The breadth of experience in the books biz that the Festival represents is encapsulated in two of the names released this week: Martin Amis and Edan Lepucki. Amis is, of course, one of Britain's literary lions with 40 years of novels behind him, including the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Time's Arrow (1991), Money (1984), The Information (1995), and, most recently, Lionel Asbo: State of England (2012). He'll have a new novel, The Zone of Interest, to promote. It hits the shelves Sept. 30.
Lepucki is a debut novelist and Cinderella sensation, thanks to some fairy-godmothering from Stephen Colbert. As part of his current feud with Amazon over its treatment of Hachette Book Group, Colbert invited fellow Hachette author Sherman Alexie to recommend a Hachette title that's been affected by Amazon not taking preorders for the publisher's books. Alexie named Lepucki's California, and Colbert urged his viewers and Twitter followers to buy the book and in enough numbers to get it on the New York Times best-seller list. Which, being Colbert Nation, they did. And now, Lepucki is receiving the benefit of those sales but attention from serious reviewers and major literary festivals.
On the nonfiction side, we have a local favorite son, Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, whose new book shows him turning his incisive and insightful eye from Scientology back to the political realm. His focus this time is historical, looking back at the highlight of the Jimmy Carter administration, the Camp David Accords establishing peace between Israel and Egypt. Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David will be released Sept. 16.
Another Pulitzer winner, Los Angeles Times reporter Héctor Tobar, will be here promoting a book that examines a more recent event on the world stage: the cave-in of the San José Mine in Chile that trapped 33 men underground for 69 days in 2010. Deep Down Dark, with a release date of Oct. 7, is touted as the "exclusive, official story" of the miners' survival and rescue.
Straddling the line between nonfiction and fiction is Valerie Plame Wilson, whose name became familiar throughout the world when she was outed as a CIA operations officer by Robert Novak in the Washington Post over the dispute between the Bush administration and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, about Iraq's possible efforts to purchase nuclear materials from Niger. Plame Wilson told her side of the story in the 2007 memoir Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, but since then she turned her pen to fiction, co-authoring a series of spy novels with mystery writer Sarah Lovett. The follow-up to the first of these, Blowback, is titled Burned and will be released Oct. 21.
The other three authors provide a bit of international flavor ranging from Italy to the Caribbean. The former involves real taste as celebrity chef, restaurateur, and PBS cooking shot host Lidia Bastianich shares more of her tips on Italian and Italian-American cuisine – no doubt some from her 2013 book, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master.
Tiphanie Yanique, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, has earned widespread acclaim for her short stories, which were collected into an award-winning volume, How to Escape From a Leper Colony in 2010. She will arrive in Austin shortly after the publication of her first novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which hit bookstores July 10.
Last but not least is Ziggy Marley, the Grammy Award-winning musician from Jamaica, political activist, and, as of this spring, children's book author. With illustrator Ag Jatkowska, he took the lyrics from a song off the Grammy-winning children's album Family Time and created the book I Love You, Too.
Many, many more authors will be announced in the coming weeks, but while you await their release, you can lose yourself in Dan Winters' gorgeous color portrait of the Texas Theatre, a Thirties-era movie palace in Seguin, which serves as the poster image for the 2014 Texas Book Festival.
For more information, visit www.texasbookfestival.org.
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