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2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Kate DiCamillo and Ann Patchett

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.

One writes for young people; the other mostly for adults. Yet these two very different writers share a longtime friendship. The video they made together amply demonstrates the rapport they share and their wry sense of humor. You will hate to see this conversation end.

Two-time Newbery Medal winner DiCamillo’s most recent book is “Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem” (Candlewick). Pulitzer Prize finalist for adult fiction Ann Patchett has most recently published “The Dutch House” (Harper).

Patchett joins us from her breakfast room in Nashville, and DiCamillo is in her Minneapolis dining room, which, she says, “is funny that I even have a dining room because I can’t cook and I’m lousy at entertaining.”

Patchett tells the story of how she became friends with DiCamillo. “I’m the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.” They had met before at the store and elsewhere, but it was a letter Patchett received from a friend that sparked the friendship. The friend asked her if she knew DiCamillo, because she and her son had just finished Kate’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.” The friend said, “It had changed their lives.” Ann knew she had to read the book before she contacted her. “And I wound up reading every single thing you had written.”

Kate talks about how she can write for young people, even though she herself doesn’t have children: “I think that kids see that 10-year-old that I was when I’m up on stage. I think that’s who I take on stage. I don’t know that I have an adult self that I take anywhere.”

This conversation will have you laughing out loud from almost the moment it begins. But it will also make you realize the deep bond of friendship between these two.

The more than 120 authors, poets and illustrators who joined us for the 2020 National Book Festival, our first virtual festival, rose to the challenges of presenting online, and they shared their unique perspectives on this 20th festival’s theme, American Ingenuity.

You can access all author presentations from our National Book Festival site. And there is additional video content, such as fascinating Q&A sessions with select authors, on the Virtual Festival Platform.

You are invited to explore the many festival stages in genres such as History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Fiction, Children and Teens. These author recordings are guaranteed to challenge you to look at life in new ways and inspire you to read their work.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrates its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.