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2017 Festival Wows Thousands – Save the Date for 2018

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David McCullough speaks on the Main Stage to a packed house at the 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Tens of thousands of book lovers young and old, from the Washington, D.C., area and places as far-flung as Louisiana and Texas, packed ten stages at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the 17thannual Library of Congress National Book Festival. Thousands more watched live online throughout the day as the Library streamed the entire Main Stage line-up to its Facebook page.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden introduced authors throughout the day, opening the festival’s 2,500-seat Main Stage with David McCullough, and then closing the stage with David Baldacci, but not before announcing that the 2018 festival will be held September 1 at the Washington Convention Center.

“It was an unforgettable National Book Festival,” Hayden said. “I was not only inspired by the many amazing authors, but also by the wonderful stories shared by festivalgoers who came from all parts of the country. From a little six-year-old who held his Captain Underpants tightly when he met author Dav Pilkey to teachers from Wisconsin eager to meet Margot Lee Shetterly.”

Many acclaimed authors made their National Book Festival debuts throughout the day, including Shetterly, author of “Hidden Figures”; Ernest Gaines, who spoke about his first book since the acclaimed “A Lesson Before Dying”; Michael Lewis, whose non-fiction books such as “Moneyball” and “The Big Short” have been turned into major motion pictures; Marie Lu, young adult best-selling author; Lincoln Peirce, author of the popular Bob Nate series for kids; Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Elizabeth Strout; and Colm Tóibín, author of the award-winning novel, “Brooklyn.”

Eight authors launched new books at the festival, including Gaines with “The Tragedy of Brady Sims” and Peirce with “Big Nate: A Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie.” Others were Danielle Allen with “Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.,” M.T. Anderson with “Landscape with Invisible Hand,” Alice McDermott with “The Ninth Hour,” Claire Messud with “The Burning Girl,” Karin Slaughter with “The Good Daughter” and Jesmyn Ward with “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

Denis Johnson (d. May 24, 2017) was honored posthumously with the 2017 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The award commends strong, unique, enduring voices that –throughout long, consistently accomplished careers – have revealed something about the American experience.

“Denis Johnson was a true artist, a giant in the world of letters,” said Samuel Nicholson, Johnson’s editor at Random House. “His writing spoke to us in a distinctly American vernacular, bringing life to characters on the margins, showing them in their full humanity.”

The annual celebration of reading kicked off earlier in the week with a pinning ceremony for the 2017 National Student Poets, who presented their work on the Library of Congress stage on the festival’s expo floor, and with the announcement of the 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Award winners.

The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private- and public-sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Charter Sponsors include the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The James Madison Council, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsor is the National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are Thomas V. Girardi, Beverly and Lyman Hamilton, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Scholastic Inc. and the Junior League of Washington; and, in the Friends category, Booklovers Circle members, Candlewick Press, Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., Democracy Fund, Joseph and Lynn Deutsch, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Sweden, The Hay-Adams, J.J. Medveckis Foundation, Mensa Foundation, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Timothy and Diane Naughton, Reading Is Fundamental, the Nora Roberts Foundation, Patricia Glass Schuman and Vincent Civello, Small Press Expo (SPX), Split This Rock and the White House Historical Association. Media Partners are C-SPAN2’s Book TV, NPR and PBS Book View Now. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at [email protected].

Comments (9)

  1. I wasn’t wowed. I was tired of once again waiting in long lines as I repeatedly missed the talks by the authors I went to hear. After several years in the convention center, when will the Library of Congress figure out how to put popular authors in rooms that are big enough for all the people who made the trip there to hear them? Have you thought of arranging overflow rooms with live-streaming of the talks? Or holding the conference over two days? And this is in addition to the long lines for the bathroom or to get a cup of coffee. At this point, the poor organization has gotten old. As a former book festival lover, I’m thinking of not bothering to go next year.

  2. I can’t say enough about the success of Saturday’s Book Festival. Of course, the topics and the speakers were great. That was to be expected. What was really over the top was the organization of the event from the handling of the lines, monitors for viewing, “ask me” persons to get you where you wanted to go in a confusing building, making sure every seat was filled, and general good cheer. I’ve never been to a better run event. Can wait until next year. Congratulations on a job well done.

  3. This was the first year that I attended the Book Festival and enjoyed every minute. I spent most of my time at the children’s stages so next year I’ll have to see the authors who write for adults. Washington DC here I come.

  4. I was blessed a third year in a row with a stellar author, Danielle Allen, who moved the morning audience in Contemporary Life to tears as she read and discussed her new book “Cuz.” It touched people deeply, and touched off some really necessary discussions about the Prison Industrial Complex. I love doing the author escort role, then doing my next shift among the people enjoying the books and activities, especially the families with book-loving kids in tow!

  5. This was my first year and I loved it. My husband and I will make it an annual event.

  6. This year I worked as an usher at the main stage, third floor. Making sure that every vacant seat in the auditorium was filled. I had so much fun, and the people seemed to be pleased that we took the time and effort to find them seats in such a crowded event. The entire process was organized to a “Tee”, and with my welcoming smile and all of my request of “this way please” it was surely a joyful event. The visitor’s were absolutely delighted.

  7. This was my first time attending the festival since it moved to the convention center. I used to attend all the time when it was on the Mall and, to be honest, I preferred the Mall. While I saw many great talks and it was nice to be out of the rain, my memories of the day are dominated by ALL THE LINES. I missed how on the Mall you could wander freely between talks. Sure, you didn’t always get a seat, but you could at least stand on the edges of the tents. This year I missed many authors I wanted to see because I felt like I had to go early to either wait in line or get in the room for an author I really wanted to see.

  8. I love the festival. I try to go every year. I will plan ahead who I want to hear talk better next year. I am sooooo glad you moved the festival inside. The tents were not big enough on the Mall and if it rained, then people got wet. Indoors is MUCH better. I look forward to next year.

  9. I understand the frustration of the long lines to see an Author present and the long book-signing lines, in addition to missing some of the Authors attendees wanted to see in person. However, I believe this event presented by the Library of Congress is a necessary, annual event because it brings so many people together not only from across the nation, but from around the world since Washington, DC is an international city. I too, have decided to travel and attend this event annually when ever possible. Now, about the logistics, yes they need some improvement. If I recall correctly, in 2014 the book signing area was closer than where it was this year, so far away from many of the Author presentations. However, even with missing some of the Authors I wanted to see/meet, it was a great event that I believe everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. I think the festival should remain indoors because of unpredictable weather like the rain this year. Had it been outdoors, I would’ve been more reluctant to attend and certainly uncomfortable. The LOC/NBF volunteers were great even when they didn’t know the answer to all my questions. I appreciated them and hope they had an opportunity to see/meet some of their favorite Authors while serving the public. The coordination of allowing attendees in certain auditoriums as others left out was well done.
    “An event that everyone can attend, free-of-charge is great.” Remember it can be costly to attend even one of these Authors events at other venues. Also, hooray to Cspan 2 Book TV and PBS Book View. Because of them we have access (immediately) to Author interviews, presentations & call-ins long after the Library of Congress’
    National Book Festivals end,in addition to the Library of Congress/National Book Festival Archives. Thank you, Former First Lady Laura Bush and 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.

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