Jackson Gets Lit: The Mississippi Book Festival

If you were the kind of kid who was more interested in summer for your library’s annual reading challenge than for the days off from school, Jackson's Mississippi Book Festival might be your dream destination this summer.

People walk around outside the MS State Capitol where there are tents and lots of orange signage.
The Mississippi Book Festival returns to Jackson August 20, 2022.
Credit: Tate Nations/Visit Mississippi

On Saturday, August 20, the Mississippi Book Festival - the giant literary lawn party on the grounds of the state capitol building from 9 am to 5 pm - is free and open to the public. This one-of-a-kind event will bring together more than 170 authors for a jam-packed day of literary learnings, events and fun.

Attendees will have the chance to see and listen to more than 40 panel discussions, get books signed by their favorite authors, discover new writers and add to their book collections by books from several vendors and booksellers representing the State of Mississippi.

The Mississippi Book Festival will take advantage of its historic setting with tours of the Mississippi State Capitol. Families can also plant the roots for a lifelong love of reading by bringing children to enjoy the festival’s interactive Kids Corner, where kids will focus on books and authors to ignite the imagination. Food trucks will be on hand to serve the hungry crowds, designed especially for those who often get so lost in a book they forget to eat.

The heart of the festival can be found at Authors Alley, an open-air vendor set-up where bibliophiles can get up close and personal with their favorite published authors, buy their newest releases and get them to sign their copies. Authors Alley is also a great place to discover your new favorite author from a group of lesser-known and self-published authors whose books may just be the next great bestsellers.

Alice Walker
American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist Alice Walker will also be in attendance to celebrate the 50th anniversary re-release of her acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple.”
Credit: Ana Elena Pena

Official panelists include local, regional and national contemporary authors who write across all genres and will explore in-depth themes through panel discussions scheduled throughout the day. American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist Alice Walker will also be in attendance to celebrate the 50th anniversary re-release of her acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple.” Walker became the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction when she won the award in 1982.

Other notable attending authors include National Book Award Winners Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, Newbery Medalist Matt de la Pena, former National Geographic editor Candice Millard, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Jericho Brown, and acclaimed novelist and journalist Jennifer Egan, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, McSweeney’s, and The New York Times Magazine. Jackson native Kiese Laymon, author of the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Beth Ann Fennelly, a former poet laureate of Mississippi who resides in Oxford, are just two of the many talented Mississippi authors who will also be in attendance.

Raising talented writers is a timeworn tradition in Mississippi. The state’s rich literary history includes harboring the careers of groundbreaking, iconic writers like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, John Grisham and Angie Thomas. In Jackson alone, there are many ways to explore the state’s beloved literary lore. Use the annual Mississippi Book Festival as an anchor for an entire trip planned around Mississippi’s strong literary culture. Spending a long weekend in the state capital is the ultimate summer field trip for former summer reading champs whose love for books has only grown with time and age.

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