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].