A master of historical sci-fi adventure. One of the great chroniclers of the African American experience before the Civil Rights Era. And a novelist and short story writer whose depiction of the Vietnam War continues to resonate strongly today—a quarter-century after the landmark publication of his best-known book. Bestselling authors Diana Gabaldon, Ernest J. Gaines, and Tim O’Brien headline the 2015 Fall for the Book Festival, which will welcome more than 150 authors to free events at George Mason University and at locations throughout Virginia, DC, and Maryland.
“Fall for the Book is honored to welcome Tim O’Brien back to the stage, this time to accept the festival’s Fairfax Prize and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his now-classic novel-in-stories The Things They Carried,” said William Miller, festival director. “This year also marks a new project for Fall for the Book: Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying will be the focus of thefirst-ever text-and-community program bridging the university’s campus life and academic segments. Mason’s University Life program has adopted the book and will present copies to all of the incoming freshmen and transfers, estimated to be about 3500 students, in advance of Gaines’ appearance at the festival.”
Internationally bestselling novelist Diana Gabaldon kicks off the full week of events, accepting the 2015 Mason Award on the festival’s opening night, Sunday, September 27, at George Mason’s University’s Fairfax, VA, campus. The Mason Award, sponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation, celebrates authors who have made an extraordinary contribution to connecting literature to the wide reading public. Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 New York Times-bestselling Outlander novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics.”The eight-book series, from 1991’s Outlander through 2014’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, has been published in 26 countries and 23 languages and boasts more than twenty-six million copies in print worldwide. Gabaldon has also written several books in a series featuring Lord John Grey.
Novelist and short story writer Ernest J. Gaines will appear on Monday, September 28, at Mason’s Fairfax campus—the culmination of a program that will begin during the summer when incoming Mason students will receive Gaines’ novel A Lesson Before Dying during orientation programs. Students will be asked to read the book as part of their preparation for welcome week activities, including an assembly at which the book will be discussed. Course instructors across the university will also build the book into their syllabuses for fall courses for classroom discussion. The September 28 event will feature Gaines in conversation with Keith Clark, professor of English and African American Studies, about the seeds of the book, Gaines’ writing of it, his sense of its themes, and his hopes for its contributions to the discussion of racial understanding and awareness. In addition to A Lesson Before Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club, Gaines’ best-known works include The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) and A Gathering of Old Men (1983); all three of these books were adapted for television, and A Lesson Before Dying won an Emmy Award. Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays appeared in 2005. Gaines’ awards include a 2000 National Humanities Medal and 1990 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Genius Grant.” In the citation for that award, the MacArthur foundation praised Gaines for illustrating “the insidious effects of racism through his depictions of personal relationships influenced by social pressures in the South during the pre-civil-rights era.”
National Book Award-winning novelist Tim O’Brien will accept Fall for the Book’s highest honor, the Fairfax Prize, on the festival’s closing night, Saturday, October 3, at Mason’s Fairfax campus, where he will speak with Stephen Goodwin, author of Breaking Her Fall, about O’Brien’s experiences in Vietnam and how they led to his writing The Things They Carried. First published in 1990, the book received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; in 2005, it was named by the New York Times as one of the twenty-two best books of the last quarter century; and the title story has become one of the most anthologized pieces of literature about 20th-century America and the forces and decisions that shaped it.O’Brien also received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for his novel Going After Cacciato, and In the Lake of the Woods, published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year, received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians, and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times. In 2010, O’Brien received the Katherine Anne Porter Award, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a distinguished lifetime body of work. In November 2012, O’Brien received the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. In 2013, O’Brien received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Pritzker Military Library. His novels have sold more than three and a half million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages. The Fairfax Prize honors outstanding literary achievement and celebrates contributions to the larger literary landscape, including generously giving personal time and talents to the development of literature and literary endeavors; mentoring younger writers; and/or giving special service to the community of writers.
Other authors appearing at this year’s festival include:
- Novelists Nicholas Delbanco, The Years; Elena Delbanco, The Silver Swan; and Benjamin Percy, Red Moon and the forthcoming The Dead Lands
- Historian Robert Poole, Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home
- Short story writer Thomas Pierce, House of Small Mammals
- Poets Dorianne Laux, The Book of Men,and Joseph Millar, Blue Rust
- YA author Lori Goldstein, Becoming Jinn
- U.S. News and World Report Chief White House Correspondent Ken Walsh, Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom
For more information on the growing list of authors attending this year’s festival—September 27-October 3 at George Mason University and locations throughout Virginia, DC, and Maryland—bookmark www.fallforthebook.org.