The National Book Foundation announced its spring NBF Presents lineup of two dozen events taking place between January and May of 2019, in the second season of expanded programming made possible by a three-year $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This second season of NBF Presents, a moniker under which all of the Foundation’s public programs now fall, represents a continued commitment to providing and supplementing national access to literary programming at libraries, colleges, festivals, conferences, schools, and performance venues in a wide range of American communities.
In addition to standalone events bringing National Book Foundation–honored authors to new cities for public conversations and panels, the spring season of NBF Presents will include two large-scale events—in Albuquerque and New Orleans—tied to the Foundation’s Author in Focus and Literature for Justice programs. While the season will see the return of programming with partners in New York, Minnesota, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona, and more, the Foundation is also newly partnering with five libraries, five colleges and universities, and four festivals.
“For the Foundation, the launch of NBF Presents was a promise to continue to think about access to literature and quality literary programming in a truly national way” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “The National Book Awards and the work of the Foundation exist to reach beyond any one region and any one type of reader. NBF Presents makes that possible, bringing authors and new audiences together for meaningful discussions around books and the universal themes to which they are able to speak.”
Authors confirmed to appear at NBF Presents events in the spring season include Carol Anderson, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Robin Benway, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jamel Brinkley, Robert A. Caro, Jennifer Clement, Leslie Connor, Sloane Crosley, Charmaine Craig, Anthony Doerr, Casey Gerald, Daniel Gumbiner, Adam Haslett, Brandon Hobson, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Victoria Johnson, Min Jin Lee, Robin Coste Lewis, Karan Mahajan, Rebecca Makkai, Ibram X. Kendi, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Sigrid Nunez, Tommy Orange, Erika L. Sánchez, Sarah Smarsh, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, John Edgar Wideman, Monica Youn, and Kevin Young, with more to come. As with the fall 2018 season, the spring season will offer conversations on an array of relevant themes to a wide range of communities in regions across the country.
Programs will include continued partnerships with Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, each funded by the respective institution. These recurring campus events, presented under the program title NBA on Campus in years past and the inspiration for the expanded work through NBF Presents, will take place as part of NBF Presents in 2019.
The NBF Presents lineup also includes a new season of the Eat, Drink & Be Literary series, presented since 2006 with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and comprising unique evenings of dinner and conversation with acclaimed contemporary writers. Events tied to two of the Foundation’s other programs—Author in Focus: James Baldwin, supported by funding from Velvet Film via the Ford Foundation, and Literature for Justice, made possible by a grant from the Art for Justice Fund—will also be part of the spring season, in Albuquerque and New Orleans.
Since its launch last year, NBF Presents has put an emphasis on working with new partners at a variety of presenting venues, including public libraries able to program around their communities’ audiences and interests. This month at the Tulsa City-County Library, the site of one of the first of the season’s programs, 2017 NBA Winner Robin Benway (Far From the Tree) and Brandon Hobson, an Oklahoma resident and 2018 NBA Finalist (Where the Dead Sit Talking), will delve into themes of family, childhood, and identity, topics which both of their Awards-honored novels address at length.
“Tulsa City-County Library is thrilled to partner with the National Book Foundation to bring authors Robin Benway and Brandon Hobson to Central Library,” said Rebecca Harrison, assistant manager at the central branch of the library. “The NBF Presents program has given our library the opportunity to start a community-wide conversation about fiction and family, with the help of two acclaimed authors.”
The 2019 spring season will continue establishing new partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the country, including an event this month at the Community College of Philadelphia, where 2018 National Book Award longlister Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Heads of the Colored People) and two-time National Book Awards author Adam Haslett (You Are Not a Stranger Here and Imagine Me Gone) as they discuss the vitality of stories that reflect the lives of everyday people, the struggles they face, and how humor can work to reveal deeper truths.
“The Community College of Philadelphia is excited to welcome National Book Foundation–honored authors to our campus,” said Jeffrey Markovitz, Director of the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the Community College of Philadelphia. “Philadelphia has a rich literary tradition and community, and our students are always enthusiastic to meet and discuss craft with established writers. Such an event gives our students the chance to see where they themselves may be as working writers.”
The full list of confirmed spring NBF Presents events can be found below, with additional details forthcoming.
January 24, 7:00pm MST
Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County
Author in Focus: James Baldwin and His Literary Legacy
The National Book Foundation and the Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County present a celebration focused on the literary legacy and seminal works of James Baldwin, a four-time National Book Award Finalist (Giovanni’s Room, Nobody Knows My Name, The Fire Next Time, and Just Above My Head). Author in Focus: James Baldwin is presented with filmmaker Raoul Peck and Velvet Films, the team behind the critically acclaimed documentary I Am Not Your Negro. The program includes a screening of the film and a conversation between authors Casey Gerald (There Will Be No Miracles Here) and Robin Coste Lewis (Voyage of the Sable Venus), discussing the importance of Baldwin and his work’s urgent relevance in today’s society. The event also includes the distribution of free titles by James Baldwin to attendees.
February 5, 6:30pm EST
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Eat, Drink, & Be Literary: Robert A. Caro
Robert A. Caro defines his writing as “an attempt to examine and explain political power: how it is created, how it works, how it can be used—for good and for ill.” The National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Caro will be kicking off the 2019 season of Eat, Drink, & Be Literary, a recurring series in its fifteenth year, presented in partnership with Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. The evening features dinner, wine, and an engrossing discussion with one of the great writers of our time. Caro will be in conversation with the Foundation’s executive director Lisa Lucas.
February 12, 7:00pm CST
Tulsa City-County Library
Families, Given and Chosen: Robin Benway and Brandon Hobson
How do we find the people and relationships that will prove meaningful in our lives? Families, both given and chosen, are a subject to which literature consistently returns—whether that’s defining what we think of as family, exploring the yearning for close connection, or depicting the struggle to cultivate deep relationships that are able to sustain us. Join the National Book Foundation for a conversation around how fiction tackles the defining and portraying of family, featuring 2018 Fiction Finalist Brandon Hobson (Where the Dead Sit Talking) and 2017 Young People’s Literature Winner Robin Benway (Far From the Tree). They will be in conversation with Tulsa City-County Regional Library Manager Rebecca Howard.
February 13, 12:00pm CST
Tulsa Community College
Identity and Growing Up: Robin Benway and Brandon Hobson
What knowledge must be gained to enter adulthood? At what point does society recognize the transition out of childhood? What formative events shape who we become? Join 2017 Young People’s Literature Winner Robin Benway (Far From the Tree) and 2018 Fiction Finalist Brandon Hobson (Where The Dead Sit Talking) for a conversation that will explore how literature addresses the often blurry and porous lines between adolescence and adulthood. They will be in conversation with Tulsa Community College’s Metro Campus Provost Greg Stone.
February 19, 1:00pm EST
Community College of Philadelphia
Everyday People and Everyday Truths: Adam Haslett and Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Stories about everyday Americans may seem mundane on the surface—banal compared to heroic epics or sweeping romances. But with humor and sharp insight, these two National Book Awards–honored authors illustrate the unremarkable lives of their characters with great depth and significance. Join 2018 National Book Awards author Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Heads of the Colored People) and two-time National Book Awards author Adam Haslett (You Are Not a Stranger Here and Imagine Me Gone) as they discuss the vitality of stories that reflect the lives of everyday people, the struggles they face, and how humor can work to reveal deeper truths.
February 19, 7:00pm MST
Boise Public Library
In Love and War: Charmaine Craig and Anthony Doerr
Literature is a useful tool for exploring our history, but how does a backdrop of war affect stories about love, family, prejudice, and more? Join 2014 NBA Fiction Finalist Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See) and 2017 NBA Fiction Longlister Charmaine Craig (Miss Burma) for a conversation on how stories of life and love in wartime can offer us fresh insight into history, and how fiction can evoke empathy and understanding where nonfiction sometimes fall short. This event will be moderated by the Foundation’s Executive Director Lisa Lucas.
February 20, 6:30pm MST
Boise State University
Building Empathy through Fiction: Rebecca Makkai and Nafissa Thompson-Spires
How can fiction work to increase readers’ understanding of disenfranchised communities and shape discourse within those communities? At Boise State University, join 2018 National Book Awards–honored authors Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers) and Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Heads of the Colored People) for a discussion on the portrayal of vulnerable people, the responsibilities of the fiction writer, and the emotional connections forged through literature.
February 21, 6:00pm MST
Write What You Want to Read: Rebecca Makkai and Nafissa Thompson-Spires
With scores of books coming out each year and the seemingly endless expansion of the internet, the publishing landscape is more saturated with stories than ever before. Yet it can still feel difficult to find the types of books that speak to you in subject matter, style, and theme. Join 2018 National Book Awards–honored authors Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers) and Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Heads of the Colored People) at The Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho for a discussion on writing the stories you want to see in the world, creating the conversations we should be having, and centering the lives of characters often neglected in literary fiction. The conversation will be moderated by author, teacher, and critical theorist Sarah Sentilles.
February 28, 7:30 pm EST
Winter Park, FL
Winter With the Writers: Jennifer Clement and Daniel Gumbiner
Continuing a long-running partnership with Rollins College, the Foundation will be back in Winter Park, Florida for the “Winter With the Writers” literary festival, presenting a joint reading that features 2018 National Book Awards–honored authors Jennifer Clement (Gun Love) and Daniel Gumbiner (The Boatbuilder). The conversation and Q&A will be moderated by Carol Frost, the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Professor of English at Rollins College and director of the Winter With the Writers festival. Funding for this event is provided by Rollins College.
February 28, 7:30pm EST
LitFest: Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson
The Foundation will once again partner with Amherst College to bring NBA-honored authors to the campus LitFest, presenting a discussion between 2018 National Book Award Fiction Finalists Jamel Brinkley (A Lucky Man) and Brandon Hobson (Where The Dead Sit Talking), moderated by WNYC’s Cultural Critic and Editor of Special Projects Rebecca Carroll. Funding for this event is provided by Amherst College.
March 3, 10:00am MST
Tucson Festival of Books
A Morning with the National Book Awards: Brandon Hobson, Rebecca Makkai, and Sigrid Nunez
Come hear from acclaimed National Book Awards authors discussing their work, craft, and why books matter. The panel will feature three novelists honored at the 2018 National Book Awards: Winner Sigrid Nunez (The Friend) and Finalists Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers) and Brandon Hobson (Where The Dead Sit Talking). The panel will be moderated by the National Book Foundation’s executive director Lisa Lucas.
March 14, 7:30pm CDT
National Book Awards at Concordia: Sigrid Nunez and Victoria Johnson
Celebrating 14 years of programming at Concordia College, the Foundation will be back in Minnesota to present readings and a conversation between 2018 National Book Award Fiction Winner Sigrid Nunez (The Friend) and 2018 National Book Award Nonfiction Finalist Victoria Johnson (American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic). The host and moderator for the evening will be John Ydstie, former National Public Radio correspondent and regular guest host of NPR news programs. Funding for this event is provided Concordia College.
March 19, 5:00pm CDT
New Orleans, LA
Tulane University Law School
Literature for Justice: The Gravity of Bearing Witness
Maya Angelou once wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” How do we ensure that crucial stories that shed light on America’s mass prison system are able to reach readers? Join authors of titles on the National Book Foundation’s inaugural Literature for Justice reading list for an evening that will center around the power and strength of witnessing. Jimmy Santiago Baca (A Place to Stand) and Reginald Dwayne Betts (Shahid Reads His Own Palm) will discuss the urgent need to share stories about incarceration, redemption, and the search for hope in darkness. This event will be moderated by Literature for Justice Committee Member and author Sergio De La Pava (Lost Empress).
March 20, 6:30pm EDT
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Eat, Drink, & Be Literary: John Edgar Wideman
John Edgar Wideman’s work, often autobiographical, speaks powerfully to questions and conversations of the moment, with a particular focus on the experience of black men in America. A Finalist for the National Book Award, he is a MacArthur Fellow, two-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and two-time PEN/Faulkner Award winner. The author of American Histories, Writing to Save a Life, Philadelphia Fire, Brothers and Keepers, Fatheralong, Hoop Roots, and Sent for You Yesterday, Wideman will join the Foundation for Eat, Drink, & Be Literary, a recurring series in its fifteenth year, presented in partnership with Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. The evening features dinner, wine, and an engrossing discussion with one of the great writers of our time. Wideman will be in conversation with The New Yorker’s Deborah Treisman.
March 23, 4:00pm EDT
Virginia Festival of the Book
An Afternoon with the National Book Awards: Leslie Connor, Rebecca Makkai, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Sarah Smarsh
At the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Foundation will take center stage with four celebrated writers in conversation. The program will feature 2018 National Book Award Finalists Leslie Connor (Young People’s Literature, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle), Diana Khoi Nguyen (Poetry, Ghost Of), Rebecca Makkai (Fiction, The Great Believers), and Sarah Smarsh (Nonfiction, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth).
March 30, 4:00pm CDT
New Orleans, LA
Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
The Power of Sexuality in Contemporary Literature: Garth Greenwell and Justin Phillip Reed
In the Western world, sexuality is regularly demonized and shamed, making the subject difficult to navigate. But more and more, contemporary writing challenges this taboo, recognizing that desire in literature can function as a lens to examine issues of identity, race, gender, politics, and more. Join 2016 NBA Longlister Garth Greenwell (What Belongs to You) and 2018 NBA Winner Justin Phillip Reed (Indecency) as they parse the history and contemporary portrayal of sexuality in literature.
April 4, 7:00pm CDT
Iowa City, IA
Mission Creek Festival
NBF Presents: Kevin Young
In Iowa City, IA, The Foundation will collaborate with the Mission Creek Festival to bring the celebrated National Book Awards–honored author Kevin Young (2003 National Poetry Finalist, 2016 Poetry Longlist, 2017 Nonfiction Longlist) for a reading and discussion on his career and work. Young is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, poetry editor at The New Yorker, and author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, including his most recent collection, Brown.
April 9, 6:30pm EDT
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Eat, Drink, & Be Literary: Sloane Crosley
Sloane Crosley is not merely funny––David Sedaris called her “perfectly, relentlessly funny.” She is the author of The New York Times–bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, and How Did You Get This Number, as well as the bestselling novel, The Clasp. Her most recent book of essays is Look Alive Out There. Her work has appeared in Esquire, Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Believer and on National Public Radio, and she is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Crosley will join the Foundation for Eat, Drink, & Be Literary, a recurring series in its fifteenth year, presented in partnership with Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. The evening features dinner, wine, and an engrossing discussion with one of the great writers of our time. Crosley will be in conversation with The New Yorker’s Deborah Treisman.
April 13-14, time and location to be announced
Los Angeles, CA
LA Times Book Festival
Averting Disaster: Climate Change Through Literature
From fires that devastated parts of California, to the United Nation’s dire warning that action must be taken immediately to curb the risks of drought, floods, and extreme heat, the world is rapidly facing consequences of decades of global ecological degradation. Join 2016 National Book Award Finalist Arlie Russell Hochschild (Strangers in Their Own Land) and other NBA-honored authors as they discuss the story of climate change, the policies that impact our environmental future, and the sustainable solutions we must explore in order to save our planet.
April 15, 6:00pm CDT
Sam Houston State University
National Book Awards Festival: Erika L. Sánchez, Monica Youn, and Karan Mahajan
The Foundation returns to Sam Houston State University for their annual National Book Awards Festival which brings National Book Awards–honored authors to Huntsville, Texas for multiple days showcasing literary excellence. The marquee event will feature readings and a discussion with 2017 NBA Finalist for Young People’s Literature Erika L. Sánchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), 2016 Poetry Longlister Monica Youn (Blackacre), and 2016 Fiction Finalist Karan Mahajan (The Association of Small Bombs). Funding for this event is provided by Sam Houston State University.
April 16, 6:00pm CDT
The Roots of American Division: Carol Anderson and Ibram X. Kendi
Even the quickest glance at the news or scan of the headlines can tell you that we’re living in a country divided. But to understand where we are, we must carefully examine where we’ve come from. Join 2018 NBA Nonfiction Longlister Carol Anderson (One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy) and 2016 NBA Nonfiction Winner Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America) for an engaging evening parsing the history of inequality in American ideas, policy, and culture.
April 17, 6:30pm CDT
Montgomery City-County Public Library
Building a More Equitable World: Carol Anderson and Ibram X. Kendi
Following the election of Barack Obama, many claimed that we were living in a post-racial society. But in the era of Black Lives Matter, Charlottesville protests, and intensified culture wars, it’s apparent that we have a long way to go toward a just world. How do authors write about race during these times? How do art and culture offer powerful tools to help us to engage audiences around racial equity and justice? Join 2018 NBA Nonfiction Longlister Carol Anderson (One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy) and 2016 NBA Nonfiction Winner Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America) for an enlightening evening on how the power of art can inform and transform cultural narratives.
Las Vegas, NV
NBF Presents: Tommy Orange with The Organist
Join the National Book Foundation at The Believer Festival in southern Nevada for a special appearance by Tommy Orange, author of the acclaimed novel and 2018 National Book Award Finalist There There. Orange will be in conversation with Andrew Leland, host of the podcast “The Organist,” an arts and culture show produced by McSweeney’s and KCRW.
May 1, 6:30pm EDT
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Eat, Drink, & Be Literary: Min Jin Lee
Min Jin Lee creates “radical empathy through art” with a sharp focus on diaspora, human rights, and telling the stories that often don’t get told. Her novel Pachinko, the product of nearly thirty years of research, was a Finalist for the National Book Award, a Top 10 Books of the Year for The New York Times, and a joint book club selection of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. Lee’s debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, and USA Today. Her work is a powerful meditation on the challenges of migration, immigration, assimilation, and discrimination. Her appearance will close the 2019 season of Eat, Drink, & Be Literary, a recurring series in its fifteenth year, presented in partnership with Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. The evening features dinner, wine, and an engrossing discussion with one of the great writers of our time. Lee will be in conversation with The New Yorker’s Deborah Treisman.
Unless otherwise noted, all programs made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
For times and locations for events, please visit our events calendar or the websites of any of our partners.