Save a Bookmark for 22nd Festival of the Book

Mar 15, 2016

This week, thousands of people will come to Charlottesville for the 22nd annual Virginia Festival of the Book. As WMRA’s Sefe Emokpae reports, this year’s event is expected to be the biggest yet.

As usual, this year’s Festival of the Book will be a jam-packed week.

SARAH LAWSON: It takes place over the course of five days and represents a wide range of interests in terms of reading levels and also subject matter and we cover a lot of fiction, non-fiction, specific genres like science fiction or crime wave and a variety of other things so there’s really something for every interest.

Sarah Lawson of the Virginia Center for the Book is one of the festival’s organizers.  More than 400 authors are expected to travel to Charlottesville from around the world to participate in more than 200 programs.

LAWSON: That’s more than ever but also there are more programs with community partners with local schools and with people who from day one have really helped shape the program and shaped  the topics that are going to be discussed so it’s really community oriented.

Local author Preston Lauterbach will participate the first time. The festival coincides with the paperback release of his second book, Beale Street Dynasty, which revolves around an iconic setting in Memphis, Tennessee.

PRESTON LAUTERBACH: This legendary place, Beale street, it’s known around the world. You got people coming here from Japan, London, Paris, from Sweden, from around the U.S. I mean it’s legendary, how did it become legendary? Who were the forces behind it?

Lauterbach’s story revolves around Robert Church, Sr. and his son, Robert Jr. and how the family’s growth in fortune and power were instrumental in the creation of Beale Street as it’s known today.

LAUTERBACH: So it’s renowned as a great cultural musical hub but Beale Street Dynasty provides the texture and the back story, the environment that created such a unique place.

On Friday night at Champion Brewery, Lauterbach and his book will be featured at an event called “Reading Under the Influence: Blues and Brews.”

LAUTERBACH: We’re going to have a great record collector on hand to play some of the music from Memphis that was recorded during the ‘20s and ‘30s so you’re not just going to hear my story, you’re going to hear the people, you’re going to hear the sounds. You’re going to be in a juke joint on Beale Street Saturday night, 1927.

Lawson says one of the best parts of the festival is the ease with which guests can flow from one event to the next.

LAWSON: One of the really exciting things about the Virginia Festival of the Book is that it’s so centrally located and really accessible. It’s easy for people to get around in Charlottesville and to go from venue to venue so you can really pack your day full of readings and author events and just really partake in the excitement of the festival pretty easily whether you’re on foot, on bike or in a car.

Most events are free, but a select few require tickets that can be reserved online.