Published March 2, 2021

Short stories, historical fiction, bestselling novels, and more appear on this year’s list of 2021 Festival literary fiction. The events below feature authors in conversation about their craft and sharing the sources that inspire them. Keep reading to discover some of the literary fiction line-up on the 2021 Festival schedule…

NBF Presents: The Work of Fiction

March 13, 7 PM-8 PM: Three 2020 honorees for the National Book Award for Fiction Rumaan Alam (Leave the World Behind, Finalist), Megha Majumdar (A Burning, Longlist), and Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Finalist) discuss their books and fiction’s place in contemporary American culture, with Randy Winston. Presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation

Indigenous Lit: Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Kelli Jo Ford & Diane Wilson

March 17, 12 PM-1 PM: Novelists Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle (Even As We Breathe), Kelli Jo Ford (Crooked Hallelujah), and Diane Wilson (The Seed Keeper) discuss their work as indigenous writers celebrating Dakota and Cherokee cultures and traditions amid larger forces of history, religion, and class in America.

Writing Women, Writing Resilience

March 19, 4 PM-5 PM: Susan Abulhawa (Against the Loveless World), Peace Adzo Medie (His Only Wife), and Diane Zinna (The All-Night Sun) discuss their new novels and the irrepressible women whose stories they tell, including a young Palestinian reflecting on her life while in solitary confinement, a young seamstress in Ghana seeking independence while navigating marriage and family, and an American teacher traveling in Sweden who is forced to finally come to grips with her buried grief.

The Art of the Short Story: John Lanchester & Te-Ping Chen

March 22, 7 PM-7:45 PM: John Lanchester (Reality and Other Stories) and Te-Ping Chen (Land of Big Numbers: Stories) discuss their new collections of short stories which grapple with questions of interpersonal connection, technology, ambition, and distraction, through a mixture of witty literary fiction, magical realism, and cultural criticism.

Yellow Wife with Sadeqa Johnson

March 24, 7 PM-7:45 PM: Novelist Sadeqa Johnson discusses her latest book, Yellow Wife, the harrowing story of an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia. Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world. She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice. Presented in partnership with the African American Authors Book Club

Homeland Elegies with Ayad Akhtar

March 25, 7 PM-7:45 PM: Ayad Akhtar (Homeland Elegies) discusses his latest novel, a deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams. Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

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