Nearly 100 notable authors across multiple genres are set for the Southern Festival of Books: An Online Celebration of the Written Word. Set for Nashville in October, this is the first time the event has been held virtually in its 32-year history. The festival has transitioned to an online format as a safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to organizers with Humanities Tennessee.
Tim Henderson, executive director of the organization, said people taking part in the online edition "will receive the same great author interviews, conversations and readings that they have come to know from the festival, but they will do so in community with others around Tennessee and the globe."
The virtual festival also will feature some of the state's literary heritage sites, historic libraries and natural areas.
Headliners announced to date are:
* Julia Alvarez, who has written novels, collections of poems and several books for young readers. She is the recipient of the Pura Belpré and Américas Awards for her books for young readers, the Hispanic Heritage Award and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award. In 2013, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
* Michael Ian Black, an actor, comedian and writer who started with the sketch comedy show "The State" on MTV and has since appeared in several television shows and movies. Black is the author of several books for children, including the award-winning "I'm Bored, I'm Sad, and I'm Worried" and the parody "A Child's First Book of Trump."
* Bruce Feiler, a six-time New York Times best-selling author and presenter of two prime-time series on PBS. His work often explores the intersection of families, relationships, health and happiness. His latest work is "Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age."
* Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American novelist and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award for her debut novel in 2016. Her follow-up work, "Transcendent Kingdom," is an intimate novel about a Ghanaian family living in Alabama.
* Joy Harjo, the 23rd poet laureate of the United States and the first Native American to receive the honor. An internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident has written nine books of poetry, several plays and children's books, and a memoir.
* Joe Hill, who has published three novels and a collection of short stories as well as the comic-book series "Locke & Key." Hill's parents, incidentally, are authors Stephen and Tabitha King.
* Erik Larson, author of six New York Times best-sellers. His "Devil in the White City" is set to be a Hulu limited series and "In the Garden of Beasts" is under option by Tom Hanks for a feature film.
* Ann Patchett, a New York Times best-selling author of seven novels and three nonfiction works. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, including England's Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Patchett was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012.
* Kiley Reid, a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received the Truman Capote Fellowship. "Such a Fun Age" is her first novel.
* Natasha Tretheway, who served two terms as the 19th poet laureate of the United States (2012-2014). One of her four collections of poetry, "Native Guard," was awarded a 2007 Pulitzer Prize. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.
Premier Southern authors participating this year include Wiley Cash, Silas House, Jill McCorkle, Alice Randall, Ron Rash and Lee Smith.
Acclaimed children's and young-adult authors scheduled to appear include Sharon Cameron, Doreen Cronin, Lamar Giles, Ruta Sepetys and David Weisner.
For more information, visit www.humTN.org. Or follow the festival on Twitter (@SoFestofBooks), Facebook (@SoFestofBooks) or Instagram (@sofestofbooks).