Real life and literature at Bookfest
Literature, real life, and current events will interact dramatically this weekend at the 2009 Chilmark Book Festival. It begins on Saturday at 5:30 with a champagne reception with raw bar at the Chilmark Community Center followed be a panel discussion called "The Media Revolution: The Future of Journalism and the Media." Moderated by editor Peter Osnos, vice-chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review, the discussion will be among author Alex Jones ("Losing the News"), National Public Radio's Michelle Norris, and Ernest Wilson III, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. Tickets are $30.
Sunday's free event will be held in three tents set up around the Community Center, from 11 am to 5 pm. Appearing will be 25 best-selling authors, most of whom have Island connections, who will talk about their latest work, sign books and perhaps chat with attendees.
The community center is apt to be filled to overflowing well before the 11 am opening on Sunday when Nobel prize winner and Chilmarker Robert Solow introduces best-selling author, Island resident and national newsmaker Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr.
Mr. Gates will discuss his latest book, "In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past." On July 16, Mr. Gates, a professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard University, was arrested for disorderly conduct by Cambridge police outside his home, touching off a still-raging national debate.
The Sunday program also features Pulitzer Prize winners Geraldine Brooks, Tony Horwitz and an A-list of best-selling writers including Peter Canellos who will discuss "Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, Youngest son, Last Survivor."
The 2009 lineup is primarily comprised of fiction and non-fiction best sellers and just-released books. The Island's seasonal and year-round authors hold a prominent place: John Hough, Jr., Linda Fairstein, Ward Just, Tom Dunlop, along with Ms. Brooks and Mr. Horwitz.
And while there is some levity (friends say Spencer Quinn's novel, "Dog Gon It" is laugh-out-loud funny), much of the non-fiction work is focused on current social and political issues. Issues of morality are addressed by noted Harvard professor and lawyer Alan Dershowitz ("The Case for Moral Clarity"), education is covered by Stephen Trachtenberg, and the continuing dialogue on race in America will be discussed by Mr. Gates, Pamela Newkirk ("Letters from Black America"), and Patricia Sullivan ("Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement").