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A smiling person sits on a stage in front of a National Book Festival backdrop
Kim Fu gives a presentation on blurring reality versus fantasy on the Writers Studio Stage at the National Book Festival, September 3, 2022. (David Critics/Library of Congress)

Best of the Fest 2022: Writers Studio

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The 2022 Library of Congress National Book Festival featured many of the same stages and formats as years’ past, but we also took the opportunity to change things up for our return to the Washington Convention Center. A great example: the new “Writers’ Studio” stage, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, which expanded upon our “Poetry and Prose” stage from years past. Here’s what happened there a few weeks ago, footage you can now find  on our site and our YouTube channel:

  • The stage started with a virtual event featuring Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction winner Jesmyn Ward in conversation with the Library’s Literary Director, Clay Smith. Ward is the youngest writer to receive the prize, which celebrates “strong, unique, enduring voices that—throughout consistently accomplished careers—have told us something essential about the American experience.”
  • In a session titled “Past Pain, Future Hope: Perseverance in Literature,” Tomás Q. Morín discussed “Let Me Count the Ways: A Memoir,” about his OCD as a mechanism to survive childhood, and Morgan Talty discussed his linked short story collection set in a Native community in Maine, “Night of the Living Rez” with writer Tope Folarin.
  • Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks returned to the festival to talk about her newest novel, “Horse”—based on the true story of the thoroughbred Lexington—with writer Marie Arana, the Library of Congress’ former literary director.
  • A session titled “Bring on the Blur: Fantasy vs. Reality” featured two wildly imaginative authors—Lidia Yuknavitch and her time-traveling novel “Thrust” along with Kim Fu and her genre-bending short story collection, “Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century”—in conversation with Poets & Writers magazine editor-in-chief Kevin Larimer.
  • Poet and psychoanalyist Nuar Alsadir talked about her nonfiction debut “Animal Joy: The Book of Laughter and Resuscitation,” which seeks to recover the sensation of being present, with poet and University of Baltimore assistant professor Steven Leyva.
  • A session titled, “My Body, Not Myself: Wresting with Identity” featured poet Diana Goetsch discussing “This Body I Wore: A Memoir,” an account of her journey to late transition, along with poet and playwright Sarah Ruhl discussing her memoir “Smile: The Story of a Face,” about her decade-long battle with partial face paralysis, with Rob Casper, the Library’s head of poetry and literature.
  • Filmmaker and writer Rebecca Miller talked about her arresting, darkly prescient new book of short stories, “Total”—her first in over two decades—with National Public Radio correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben.
  • To conclude the day, Linda Gregerson—acclaimed poet, distinguished professor at the University of Michigan, and former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets—discussed her newest poetry collection, “Canopy” with Washington Post critic Ron Charles.

We hope you get a chance to check out all of the “Writers Studio” sessions!

Three men sitting and talking on a stage in front of a National Book Festival backdrop
Moderator Tope Folarin talks with authors Morgan Talty and Tomas Q. Morin on the subject “Past Pain, Future Hope,” at the 2022 National Book Festival, Sept. 3. Photo by David Critics