Saturday

October 15

Poetry Daily celebrates another landmark year with a reading and conversation with two editorial board members: Vivek Narayanan, author of After, and Jennifer Atkinson, author of A Gray Realm the Ocean. After is inspired by the Sanskrit epic poem Ramayana and describes itself as allowing “the ancient voice of the poem to engage with modern experience, initiating a transformative conversation across time.” Atkinson’s collection is self-described as “written under the influence of art” created by twenty- and twenty-first century women. The work is “Drunk on color and language.” Sponsored by Poetry Daily.

Location: Horizon Hall Atrium, Ground Floor

Navigating the marshes of Florida and the history of the South’s first integrated rock band, the characters in Virginia Hartman’s The Marsh Queen, and Peter McDade’s Songs by Honeybird dog the elusive truth of long-buried secrets. Fans of Where the Crawdads Sing will enjoy The Marsh Queen, which author Laura Prescott says is “at once a gripping mystery, a devastating family drama, a romance, and a tribute to the natural world.” Author Susan Rebecca White calls Songs by Honeybird “a book about old loves ending and new loves beginning, about the power of presence and attention — not to mention the power of good food and good music — and about the possibilities of the New South.”

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

11:30 AM

In a groundbreaking crossover event, Mason dancers choreograph dances to the poetry of Katherine E. Young, author of Woman Drinking Absinthe, CJ Evans, author of Lives, Sara Burnett, author of Seed Celestial, Vivek Narayanan, author of After, and Karyna McGlynn author of 50 Things Kate Bush Taught Me About the Multiverse. Watch the debut of this powerful series, then hear the dancers and poets discuss their process.

Location: Horizon Hall Atrium, Ground Floor

Andrew Joseph White and Valerie Nieman take YA fans on a wild ride filled with secrets, darkness, and the pain of being an outsider. White’s Hell Followed With Us is an apocalyptic horror fest following trans boy Benji who’s being mutated into a monster by a bioweapon. Author Rose Szabo calls it “a chimera of horror, romance, and something stranger.” Neiman’s In the Lonely Backwater follows scientific-minded Maggie as she deals with the fallout from her cousin’s murder and her own personal demons, including an alcoholic father, and a mysterious stalker. Author Elaine Neil Orr says, “In this realist/Gothic hybrid coming-of-age novel, Nieman achieves a suspenseful narrative full of compassion, haunting, and desire, and instruction about the power of storytelling.”

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

In Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America, Lee Drutman weaves together history, democratic theory, and political science to tell the story of how American politics became toxic, why the country is trapped in a doom loop of two-party warfare, and why it is destroying the legitimacy on which democracy depends. The Economist says Drutman “emerges as one of the keenest observers of America’s political pathologies-if only because he questions what others take for granted. Tracing the arc of the doom loop, he also spies a way out.”

Location: The George Tent, by the George Statue and Harris Theater. 

Comic book legend Alan Moore will take the virtual stage to discuss his long and influential career. He’s known for many titles, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, and Miracle Men. His newest book is a story collection, Illuminations, called “a wonderful collection, brilliant and often moving,” by Neil Gaiman. The collection, which spans forty years of writing, offers startling stories that reveal the full power of magic and imagination. This is a virtual event in partnership with The Wisconsin Book Festival. 

Location: Crowdcast. Regsiter for free here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wbf-illuminations

1 PM

Ranging from India to Germany, and from Arkansas to the front lines and then back home, the works of four Mason alumni will take readers on many journeys. Priyanka Champaneri’s novel The City of Good Death, follows the manager of an Indian death hostel. Stephanie Vanderslice’s novel The Lost Son, chronicles a mother’s quest from Depression-era New York to the German front during World War II. John Vanderslice’s novel Nous Nous is centered around two heartbreaking kidnappings in small town Arkansas. Matt Smythe’s poetry collection, Revision of a Man examines masculinity through the shifting lens of fatherhood, military service, the outdoors, and more. Sponsored by Mason Creative Writing. 

Location: Horizon Hall Atrium, Ground Floor

Stephanie Feldman and Hester Fox take readers into the mysterious and sometimes sinister worlds of witches and the occult. In Feldeman’s Saturnalia, Nina, who left Philadelphia’s elite Saturn Club three years earlier, is pulled back in when she uncovers secret societies battling for power as the world balances on the edge of an apocalypse. Author Daryl Gregory says “Saturnalia is a tense, supernatural tour through a magic-bent, paganized Philadelphia — that also manages to be heartfelt and beautifully written.” Hester Fox’s Lullaby for Witches, follows Augusta as she discovers the sinister secrets of the Harlowe family, a well-to-do New England family, including their all but obliterated beautiful Margaret, who one hundred and fifty years earlier was labeled a witch because of her uncanny powers. Augusta can’t help but fall into the dark mystery even as she risks everything.

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

You’ve seen Matthew Cappucci giving the forecast on Fox5DC, or read his predictions on The Washington Post and NPR. Now, hear him talk about his exciting cross-country adventures in Looking Up: True Adventures of a Storm-Chasing Weather Nerd. Booklist says, “In this lively memoir, avid meteorologist Cappucci shares his lifelong passion for all things climate related, regaling readers with his adventures…This energetic and captivating narrative is sure to take readers by storm.” 

Location: The George Tent, by the George Statue and Harris Theater. 

2:30 PM

What happens when books by diverse authors are challenged in schools, libraries, and even bookstores? Join children’s author and illustrator Juana Medina, YA author Robin Talley, and Youth Materials Selector for Fairfax County Public Library, Sondra Eklund, to hear how libraries and writers have been responding to a rise in attempts to ban books. 

Location: Horizon Hall Atrium, Ground Floor

Mysticism, myth, and the uncanny thread through the work of Morowa Yejidé and Jason Ockert. Yejidé’s novel Creatures of Passage is set in the otherworldly landscapes of 1977 Washington, D.C., complete with reluctant ghosts and flawed super-humans. The Washington Post says “Yejidé’s writing captures both real news and spiritual truths with the deftness and capacious imagination of her writing foremothers: Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and N.K. Jemisin.” Ockert’s darkly surreal collection Shadowselves follows characters who are perilously close to an edge they can’t see. George Saunders says, “Ockert’s voice is quirky, funny, and totally original―it conveys, in these dreamlike, virtuosic stories, a strange and vulnerable kindness you haven’t read before.”

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

In The Bond King: How One Man Made a Market, Built an Empire, and Lost It All, co-host of NPR’s Planet Money podcast, Mary Childs investigates Bill Gross and pieces together his journey from a Vegas gambler, to business school educated finance guru, to founder of one of the most  powerful, secretive, and cutthroat investment firms in the United States. Childs uncovers how this American antihero helped reshape our country’s financial system in the aftermath of the Great Recession and shows how Gross is partially responsible for making it possible for so few to have so much. But Childs discovers that, like every antihero, his ambition would ultimately bring him down. Felix Salmon of Slate Money podcast says, “It has been a long time since I devoured a book just as assiduously as this… I was completely gripped and I loved it.” 

Location: The George Tent, by the George Statue and Harris Theater. 

 

Stillhouse Press celebrates the work of four poets published in the past year with a reading and book signing: Latif Askia Ba, The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon; Alicia Elkort, A Map of Every UndoingPhil Goldstein, How to Bury a Boy at Sea; and Dean Bartoli Smith, Baltimore Sons. A reception will follow to recognize the work of the press’s student staff, including current and former students in Mason’s BA, BFA, MA, and MFA programs in English.

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room C, 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax

4 PM

Love, family, secrets, and breaking boundaries are central to these sweeping Midwestern novels and stories: New to Liberty by DeMisty Bellinger, The Hive by Melissa Scholes Young, and These Americans by Jyotsna Sreenivasan. Told through the eyes of three women living decades apart, New to Liberty is what author Leah Angstman callsa moving, heartbreaking, and uplifting novel of racial injustice, innocence lost, and the safety of women in one another’s company. The Hive is a tale of sisters struggling to save the family business – and themselves – in the face of a recession. Author Alex George calls The Hive, “real and raw and will pin you back in your seat.” These Americans is a story collection that follows the lives of Indian immigrants, which Margot Livesey says “explore with lightness and eloquence the complexity of living between cultures.”

Location: Horizon Hall Atrium, Ground Floor

Called a “master of intrigue” by John Grisham, James Grady is back with the fast-paced thriller This Train. Roaring through forty-seven hours full of secrets, treasure, and chaos, Jeffrey Deaveer calls it “a novel of soaring imagination… [delivering] a kaleidoscope of riveting characters and roller coasters of hurtling plots.” Grady has published more than a dozen novels, and his first novel, Six Days of the Condor became the classic Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor.

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

Why do people join cults? Actress Sarah Edmondson, author of Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life, and Amanda Montell, author of Cultish: The Language of Fantatism answer this question, and discuss the weaponized language and control techniques that make cults so dangerous. First-hand experience connects social science and linguistics, taking us behind the veil of recruitment and containment, and how we fall victim to cultish groups without realizing it.

Location: The George Tent, by the George Statue and Harris Theater. 

5 PM

Gene Luen Yang has written for some of your favorite comics: New Super-Man from DC Comics and the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics, with illustration team Gurihiru. He’s also a two time National Book Award finalist for his graphic novels Boxers & Saints and American Born Chinese, which is coming to Disney+. Yang’s newest graphic novel Dragon Hoops is a thrilling basketball adventure set at the school he taught at for 17 years. Hear Yang talk about the power of reading comics and the importance of reading diversely in this fun and thought-provoking headline event. Sponsored by the George Mason Friends. 

Location: Harris Theater, 4471 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax

Click here to reserve your free ticket to this event on Eventbrite, starting October 5. 

7:30 PM

International bestseller Emily St. John Mandel is back with a space and time-defying novel that The New Yorker’s Katy Waldman calls “destabilizing, extraordinary, and blood-boiling…” From early 1900s Canadian wilderness to a dark colony on the moon five hundred years later, Sea of Tranquility enraptures readers as “one of [Mandel’s] finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet.” – The New York Times. Sponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation.

Location: Harris Theater, 4471 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax

Click here to reserve your free ticket to this event on Eventbrite, starting October 5. Masks are required at this event.

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