Friday, April 29, 2022
From Debut to HBO: Kim Johnson on Her First Book, This Is My America
Our 2022 honoree, young adult author Kim Johnson, released her debut novel, This Is My America, in 2020. The “incredible and searing” story of racial injustice in America was awarded the Pacific Northwest Book Award and Malka Penn Human Rights Award for Children’s Literature and will soon be a television series on HBO Max. Ms. Johnson joined us for the Representation in YA panel at last year’s festival, and we are thrilled she will kick off the 2022 festival in conversation with C.J. Farley, an arts critic (formerly of the WSJ) and author of many titles, including the YA novel Zero O’Clock.
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Breakfast with the Poets
Yet another year without coffee! But we’ve got strong poetry to get you up and going. Seven Powow River Poets, Midge Goldberg, Don Kimball, Jean Kreiling, Zara Raab, Andrew Szilvasy, Paulette Turco, and Deborah Warren will read from books they’ve published since last year’s festival.
The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Scandalized 18th Century England
Discover the adventurous life of the stylish and scandalous Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston—a woman whose infamous trial was bigger news in British society than the American War of Independence. Extensively researched, highly entertaining, and full of decadence and wit, The Duchess Countess brings one of England’s most notorious women to life. Author Catherine Ostler speaks with Suzanne Leopold of Suzy Approved Book Reviews about this sensational woman who refused to be defined by society’s expectations.
Tennis Anyone? Christopher Clarey in Conversation About His Bestselling Biography of Roger Federer
The Master: The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer chronicles the astounding career of one of the best tennis players in history. Christopher Clarey, a tennis writer for the New York Times and a longtime West Newbury resident, brings the legend to life with unparalleled access not only to the man himself, but also other tennis greats, including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Roddick. More than 100,000 copies of the book have been sold worldwide and it is a national bestseller in six countries, including the U.S., where it was on both The New York Times overall bestseller list and the list for non-fiction. Mr. Clarey will be in conversation with Dyke Hendrickson, a local historian and lifelong fan of the game.
Fly Girl: A Memoir
Fresh out of college in 1978, Ann Hood joined the glamorous ranks of flight attendants. She carved chateaubriand in the first-class cabin, found romance on layovers in London and Lisbon, and walked more than a million miles in high heels. Packed with funny, moving, and shocking stories, Ann’s memoir, Fly Girl, captures the nostalgia and magic of air travel at its height. Julia Cooke, the author of Come Fly the World: The Women of Pan Am at War and Peace, joins Ann Hood in a conversation about the Golden Age of air travel and the thrill that remains with every takeoff.
The Lengths That We Will Go To: In Conversation with C.J. Farley and Desmond Hall
C.J. Farley (Zero O’Clock) and Desmond Hall (Your Corner Dark) explore the lengths that people are willing to go—whether it’s for family or what you believe in. From Farley’s “insightful, eye-opening, and inventive story” to Hall’s tale “that ties you up, turns you inside-out, wrings you like a wet cloth” (Jason Reynolds), these YA reads tackle serious issues that youth face today.
The Poetry of Richard Wollman and Kirun Kapur
How much of the world is gathered in the work of these two poets from Amesbury, just across the river! In their cadences we hear echoes of the Psalms and the Ramayana. They bring us news from Steubenville, Basra, Surat; from Ashkelon and the defiled Jewish cemetery in Carpentras. But they also bring our attention to what’s happening in the sky above the Merrimac River and in the waiting room of the hospital, for theirs are intensely personal poems. Richard Wollman’s newly published work is a love poem which reads like a whispered prayer to “the twin gods of want and need.” Kirun Kapur’s new book makes expressive use of silence and dares to utter in compassion what emerges from silence, words left unsaid for generations.
Dumplings and Dysfunction: In the Kitchen with the novel The Family Chao
The Strong Sense of Place podcast features books with vivid settings and fascinating characters — each episode takes listeners on a virtual trip to one destination. In this special Zoom edition of their show, they go behind the scenes of restaurant life. The hosts will be joined by author Lan Samantha Chang to discuss her new novel The Family Chao, a delicious exploration of identity, family ties, and a little bit of murder. They’ll also host a round of Two Truths and a Lie and recommend more stories set in steamy kitchens.
Two Artists, One Book: The Unspoken Collaboration of an Author and Illustrator of a Children’s Book
Aliya King Neil, a former public school teacher, was inspired by real life events for her first children’s book, Keep Your Head Up. Charly Palmer brought her words to life with his bright, bold illustrations. But how do the illustrator and writer find the right balance for the book? The author and illustrator will discuss their own creative processes and how they fit together for their Southern Book Prize-winning book.
The Poetry of Taylor Byas and Greg Williamson
Two bright stars in the firmament of formalist poetry, Greg Williamson and Taylor Byas extend tradition by inventing their own forms and by adapting inherited forms to meet new challenges. At a time when our understanding of reality has been radically transformed, Williamson brings the language of thermodynamics and quantum physics into the sonnet sequence. Byas uses the six recurring words of the sestina to send a message about the new reality of social media; she addresses the cyclical violence of racism in the repeated lines of the pantoum. If one can speak of the cutting edge of tradition, this is it.
An Early Look at The Latecomer: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s body of work is both beloved and wide-ranging, and her novels have found homes on countless bookshelves as well as in film and television. Her 2021 novel, The Plot, is a deft mystery-thriller with, well, a killer plot. Her newest novel, The Latecomer, follows a wealthy clan in New York City as they introduce a new sibling into a fractured family. Carol Fitzgerald of Bookreporter will talk to Korelitz about The Latecomer, her long career, and maybe even what it was like to see Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant play two of her characters in HBO’s The Undoing.
Beyond Black and White: Wil Haygood on Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World
Wil Haygood returns to the festival to talk about his latest book, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World. A New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2021 and one of NPR’S Best Books of the Year, it is “at once a film book, a history book, and a civil rights book,” wrote Shondaland, the acclaimed American television production company founded by television writer/producer Shonda Rhimes. Mr. Haygood will be in conversation with Peter Guralnick, a longtime music writer and critic whose last book, Looking to Get Lost: Adventures in Music and Writing, was released in 2020.
The Poetry of Jeffrey Harrison
The ancient connection between poetry and memory is everywhere apparent in the work of Jeffrey Harrison. In long meditative lines of verse, Harrison recalls and relives the arc of his own journey through a life replete with love and loss. As Stanley Plumly notes, his “writing has that quality of being at one with the experience.”
Presenters: Jeffrey Harrison
Oh William! Elizabeth Strout and Andre Dubus III in Conversation
Book after book Elizabeth Strout has shown us that she is an acute observer of the human condition. Her beloved character, Lucy Barton, returns in this elegant and nuanced novel, about the quiet forces that hold us together – even after we’ve grown apart. Join Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout in conversation with award winning author Andre Dubus III about the mysteries of marriage, the strength and wisdom of Lucy Barton, and the secrets that can change everything we know about the people closest to us.
Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times
What is the role of literature in an era when one political party wages continual war on writers and the press? What is the connection between political strife in our daily lives, and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, affect politics? Author Azar Nafisi answers these and other questions in her book Read Dangerously. Join Nafisi and Boston Globe reporter Kate Tuttle in conversation about the power of literature throughout history and in today’s troubled times.
The Poetry of Danielle Legros Georges & Geoffrey Brock
As Danielle Georges reaches back into “the waters of history” in Haiti and to the island’s French legacy, she finds a gorgeous, resilient voice that echoes Baudelaire, and operates by vivid juxtaposing of images. She advises, “do not turn . . . //Against a neighbor. . . // Your human // Self, keep it alive. A type/ Of flame.” If Georges’ influences are French, Geoffrey Brock’s are Italian, for it was through his translations that he acquired a formal aplomb. “Everything wants to dream itself into something. . .” writes Brock—and write he does with eloquence, whether it’s an ode to Ovid with stanzas in three meters and perfect rhyme, or variations on the theme of Orpheus, who knew “I couldn’t bring her back, / Because it wasn’t her / But grief that I love. . .”
Fear and Haunting in the 21st Century: The Gothic Novel Gets an Update
Readers have been fascinated by the macabre for centuries. Join a discussion with three writers who have fresh takes on the gothic novel tradition about what they think makes a story chill the bones and tingle the spine. Panels include Sarai Walker, author of The Cherry Robbers, Kit Mayquist, author of Tripping Arcadia, and Phoebe Wynne, author of Madam. The panel will be moderated by Liberty Hardy, Senior Contributing Editor at BookRiot and host of All the Books! podcast.
Mothers and Memoirs: Real Talk on Pregnancy and Motherhood, Mishaps Included
With wit and humility, Alena Dillon (My Body Is a Big Fat Temple) and Aileen Weintraub (Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir) offer everything the “air-brushed” myth of motherhood doesn’t include, from morning sickness and mood swings to five months of bed rest in a falling-down farmhouse. Each offers a real take on what they didn’t expect when they were expecting. Moderated by Kate Rope, expert author of Strong as a Mother: How to Be Happy, Healthy and (Most Importantly) Sane From Pregnancy to Parenthood.
The Poetry of Regie Gibson & Marilyn Hacker
These astute, urban poets eschew the garret; they’d rather work with other poets, dead (through translation) or alive, Marilyn Hacker most recently in a book-length renga, a collaboration with the French-Indian poet Karthika Naïr, and Regie Gibson in the classroom, hip-hopping with teenagers, “We gotta do a Mic Check, an Everything-all-right Check,” translating “The Cat from Strat” (Shakespeare) into 21st C. dialect and calling, like Hacker, for greater social responsibility: The one life I have, Hacker knows, “will be “same” unless I make it “other.” Being American isn’t always easy. “Once, it was lucky,” says Hacker, whose grandparents immigrated to the U.S. before the Holocaust, while Gibson calls on us to rewrite our dark “isms” with new ones—”the right to remain black and not shot-ism,” for example.
Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America
This group biography from Mayukh Sen honors seven extraordinary women, all immigrants, who left an indelible mark on the way Americans eat today. Taste Makers stretches from World War II to the present, with absorbing and deeply researched portraits of figures including Mexican-born Elena Zelayeta, a blind chef; Marcella Hazan, the deity of Italian cuisine; and Norma Shirley, a champion of Jamaican dishes. Christina Koliander speaks with Mayukh Sen about weaving together histories of food, immigration, and gender, Taste Makers will challenge the way readers look at what’s on their plate―and the women whose labor, overlooked for so long, makes those meals possible.
Stay Gone Days: A Conversation with Author Steve Yarbrough
A family scandal, estranged sisters, passion, regrets and at the heart of it all, a novel that may have the power to bring these sisters together again. Award winning author Steve Yarbrough returns to the Newburyport Literary Festival with his latest book Stay Gone Days. Bill Roorbach joins Steve in a conversation about his latest novel of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Campus Culture: The Academic Novel Comes of Age.
Three fresh takes on the campus novel look unflinchingly at the power dynamics in academia, using wit, humor, and satire to question these institutions that tend to take themselves entirely too seriously. Author and director of the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden Lauren Grodstein will moderate the discussion with panelists Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir, Mona Awad, author of All’s Well, and Elaine Hsieh Chou, author of Disorientation.
The Bookstour: Film and Panel Discussion
Join us for a screening of the 20-minute documentary The Bookstour, the story of a road trip across the country visiting independent bookstores, including interviews with 30+ booksellers. Mason Engel, a self-published author, intended to promote his novel on Amazon, but when he started visiting the most unique indie bookstores around the country, he realized there was a priceless something the “everything store” couldn’t sell. So, Mason began a new cross-country road trip, interviewing dozens of booksellers to discover what makes indie bookstores so special.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with the director, Mason Engel, and featured booksellers.
It’s Getting Hot in Here: Climate Change in Fiction
As climate change increasingly becomes a reality, its effects on our planet have migrated from the realm of yesterday’s science fiction into today’s realistic fiction. Moderator Julie Carrick Dalton will lead a discussion with Charlotte McConaghy, author of Once There Were Wolves and Migrations, and Rebecca Scherm, author of The House Between Earth and the Moon, about how they approach environmental calamities in their writing and how it factors into their stories and the lives of their characters.
Sunday, May 1, 2022
The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland
Anyone who’s seen Kenneth Branagh’s film Belfast might wonder just how a social situation as convoluted (and poisoned) as the one he grew up in could have come into being. The answer is 500 years of tortured Irish history which has relentlessly pitted one socio-economic class of people, most readily marked by their religion, against another, of a different persuasion; or to put it more bluntly, the haves vs. the have nots.
Detailing about 70 pivotal years of Irish-English history, The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland traces this conflict and brings to life many iconic and often misunderstood characters of English history including the formidable Great Harry (Henry VIII), his spirited (but eventually frustrated) youngest daughter, Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, and hovering over it all, Philip II of Spain. Join author James Roy and Beth Welch in a discussion of this tumultuous history.
The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship’s Battle Against the Slave Trade
The Black Joke delivers a groundbreaking history of the most famous member of the British Royal Navy’s anti-slavery squadron and the long fight to end the transatlantic slave trade. Sailing after the spectacular fall of Napoleon in France, but before the rise of Queen Victoria’s England, Black Joke was first a slaving vessel itself; only a lucky capture in 1827 allowed it to be repurposed by the Royal Navy to catch other slavers. Over the next five years, the ship’s diverse crew and dedicated commanders captured more ships and liberated more enslaved people than any other in the squadron. Harrowing and heartbreaking, The Black Joke is a crucial and deeply compelling work of history, both as a reckoning with slavery and as a lesson about the power of political will, or the lack thereof.
Paradise Falls: The Story of an Environmental Catastrophe
In the 1970s an unlikely band of mothers discovered that their neighborhood was built atop an old canal where the city’s largest employer dumped over 20,000 tons of toxic waste. Keith O’Brien tells the story of how these ordinary women fought to protect their families and revolutionize modern environmental activism. Sam Evans-Brown, Executive Director of Clean Energy NH, will join author Keith O’Brien in a conversation about this meticulously researched narrative of inspirational citizen activism in the face of harrowing circumstances.
With Any Luck: An American Love Story
Award-winning naturalist and novelist Bill Roorbach’s new book, Lucky Turtle, has been called “a thrilling, blistering tale of young love and old hate and the steady endurance of both.” With a keen eye for nature and the nature of relationships, Roorbach spins a love story that takes readers from Massachusetts to the woods of Montana, as well as the worn pathways of the heart. In conversation with author Ann Hood (Fly Girl and Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food).
Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike
A gripping and wholly original account of the epic human tragedy that was the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98. One hundred thousand men and women rushed heedlessly north to make their fortunes; very few did, but many thousands of them died in the attempt. In 1897, the United States was mired in the worst economic depression that the country had yet endured. So when all the newspapers announced gold was to be found at the Klondike River in the Yukon, a mob of one hundred thousand people swarmed north to Alaska. It was a mass delusion that quickly proved deadly: avalanches, shipwrecks, starvation, murder. Come to learn the story of the gold rush through the iconic characters who endured it. A young Jack London, who would make his fortune but not in gold. Colonel Samuel Steele, who tried to save the stampeders from themselves. The notorious gangster Soapy Smith, goodtime girls and desperate miners, Skookum Jim, and the hotel entrepreneur Belinda Mulrooney. The unvarnished tale of this mass migration is always striking, revealing the amazing truth of what people will do for a chance to be rich.
Books that Thrill
More than just a mystery, thrillers are dark, suspenseful, plot-driven stories that take the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotion. What thriller reader hasn’t said they will stop reading after “just one more chapter…”? Join authors Erica Ferencik (Girl in Ice), Heather Gudenkauf (The Overnight Guest), and Edwin Hill (The Secrets We Share) in conversation with Wendy Walker (Don’t Look For Me) as they discuss writing books that keep us turning pages long into the night.
Members Only: A Conversation With Sameer Pandya
First the white members of Raj Bhatt’s posh tennis club call him racist. Then his life falls apart. Along the way, he wonders: where does he, a brown man, belong in America? Join author Sameer Pandya and Lauren Grodstein in a conversation about this heartfelt and humorous novel of racial identity and what it means to be a member in today’s society.
The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
Join Tim Madigan as he discusses his New York Times bestselling book, The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, a definitive account of America’s worst episode of racial violence. With chilling details, humanity, and the narrative power of compelling fiction, The Burning explores the currents of hatred and racism that led to the annihilation of the Greenwood district of Tulsa, one of the most prosperous African American communities in the United States at the time.
The book also places the massacre in a broader historical context. Rather than a historical anomaly, the Tulsa Race Massacre was completely consistent with that time in the nation, an era of Jim Crow, widespread lynching, and racism endorsed and promulgated at the highest levels of society. Such were the foundations of systemic racism at the root of our problems today.
Literary Matchmaking: The Author/Agent Relationship
For many aspiring authors, landing an agent feels like it might be the end of a long road trip. But most published authors will tell you that’s just the beginning. What happens next? Join literary agent Monika Woods of Triangle House with two of her authors, Rachel Yoder (Nightbitch) and Mike Meginnis (Drowning Practice), as they discuss the triumphs and tribulations of publication. Peek inside the author/agent relationship and travel along on the journey, from the moment the book caught the agent’s attention, through the sale to a publisher, and all the way to that magical moment when the finished book hits the shelves.
All About Perspective: Co-authors Christine Pride and Jo Piazza on We Are Not Them
Co-authors Christine Pride and Jo Piazza teamed up in 2018 to write a story about race and friendship that would be informed by both of their unique perspectives and life experiences as a Black woman and a white woman. Called “spellbinding from cover to cover” and “blistering and incisive,” We Are Not Them takes readers behind and beyond the headlines with humanity, nuance, and compelling story-telling that gets readers thinking and talking. In conversation with author and journalist Lee Woodruff (Those We Love Most and In an Instant).
If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving
What do you know about the thanksgiving feast at Plimoth? What if you lived when the English colonists and the Wampanoag people shared a feast at Plimoth? What would you have worn? What would you have eaten? What was the true story of the feast that we now know as the first Thanksgiving and how did it become a national holiday? Chris Newell answers all these questions and more in this comprehensive and inclusive dive into the feast at Plimoth and the history leading up to it.
The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven: A Novel
A disfigured Swedish miner takes to the remote regions of the Arctic to live a solitary life as a fur trapper. In this bleak landscape he meets others who teach him, who join him in his struggles and his joy, and who ultimately become his make-shift family. Author Nathaniel Ian Miller has created a vivid setting and a cast of characters that will stay with long after you’ve finished reading. Join Miller and David Arnold in conversation about this amazing novel written with humor and insight into human connections.
The Queen of Thrillers: How Bestselling Author Lisa Jewell Sets the Scene for Suspense
Called the “Queen of Thrillers,” No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller, The Night She Disappeared, has been called “rich, dark, and intricately twisted.” The author of 19 books, Jewell creates complex characters and even more complex plots that keep readers guessing until the last page. Her novels have sold over 5 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into 28 languages. In conversation with Hank Phillippi Ryan (Her Perfect Life).
Clipper Heritage Trail Volume II
Take a seat and get ready to view over 60 images of old Newburyport. Ghlee E. Woodworth’s upcoming local history book is entitled Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail, Volume II. This richly illustrated work follows the award-winning Clipper Heritage Trail Volume I book, published in 2020. These books are based on the Clipper Heritage Trail website: www.clipperheritagetrail.com. Ghlee was honored with a Merit Award from the American Association of State and Local History. Clipper Heritage Trail Volume II tours will take you throughout the city, learning about shipyards, authors, poets, sea captains, photographers, cemeteries, and Plum Island. See a castle, the sites of old cotton mills and schoolhouses, a distillery and comb factory, a hotel and lighthouse, and hear about a summer camp for disabled children. There’s even a Wonder Woman connection to Newburyport!
Romance by the Book
We love the trend of romance novels centered around books and reading. Join us as we discuss crafting these love stories for bibliophiles with Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Roughest Draft) and Lauren Kate (By Any Other Name).
I’m Sorry for Your Loss: Writing About Grief
In this panel discussion we’ll work our way through the five stages of grief as we look at different ways of writing about loss and its aftermath. There’s no one way to grieve and, as these books show us, there’s no one way to write about it. Bookseller Hannah Harlow of The Book Shop of Beverly Farms will moderate a discussion with Jenna Blum, author of Woodrow on the Bench, Steven Rowley, author of The Guncle, and Meredith Hall, author of Beneficence.
Plum Island: A Vulnerable Gem
Local author-journalist Dyke Hendrickson will talk about his upcoming book, Plum Island: A Vulnerable Gem. He will also show slides, including numerous aerial photos that have not been displayed in the past. Plum Island faces challenges. On the northern sector, many houses are vulnerable to rising seas. On the southern portion, scientists are concerned that climate change will affect the health and habits of migrating birds that frequent the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. This book is about the changing conditions at the island. In 2022, Plum Island is immersed in a significant moment of its history.
Keeping it Short: Lily King and the Short Story
Short stories are sometimes a novelist’s early steps, a segue into the longer form. What happens when a master of the novel returns to them? In Lily King’s case, what happens is Five Tuesdays in Winter, a gorgeous collection that explores desire and heartache in surprising and distinct ways. Join Heidi Pitlor, longtime editor of The Best American Short Stories and an author in her own right, as she talks to one of New England’s most cherished writers.
The Art of the Art-Full Mystery
Grace D. Li (Portrait of a Thief) and Brendan Slocumb (The Violin Conspiracy) explore the rarified world of art through the lens of crime. Whether it’s stolen Chinese artifacts or a priceless violin, both authors explore how important art can be to a culture or a family and the lengths some people will go to get it back. They also tell the stories of art itself, as well as the identities and obsessions of those who love it.
Secrets and Family Ties: Jen Ferguson and Grace K. Shim on Their Debut Novels
Secrets can hide anywhere, from the wide-open Canadian prairies or the sparkling streets of Seoul. And when family is involved, the truth can hurt. Author Jen Ferguson (The Summer of Bitter and Sweet) explores friendships and estranged fathers from behind an ice cream counter, while Grace K. Shim (The Noh Family) delves into newfound family—but both put family at the center of the drama.