(Chicago) Aug. 2, 2023—Every year, Printers Row Lit Fest, one of the three largest and oldest literary festivals in the United States, promises to be a vibrant gathering of authors, readers, booksellers, publishers, and literary enthusiasts as well as young adults and children. The celebration unfolds its 2023 edition from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, and Sunday, Sept. 10 in Chicago’s famous Printers Row neighborhood.
The Fest, which annually attracts more than 100,000 people and is completely free for visitors, stretches across five blocks, along South Dearborn Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk Street and then to State and Clark Streets.
Presented by not-for-profit Near South Planning Board, the Fest, in its 38th year, always accessible and free to visitors, connects audiences through programming by giving them front-seat access to critically-acclaimed authors who inspire, spark and provoke thoughtful and meaningful discussions. These authors take on myriad topics that focus on global and social events affecting our personal and professional lives. Visitors can also explore over 100 bookseller and exhibitor tents over the weekend that present a variety of genres that include children’s works romance to politics, and more. Children’s events are festive features that stimulate the joy of lifelong reading as well. One that opens the fest will be a children’s parade led by the Yin He Dancers, in partnership with the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, and the Chicago Public Library’s Great Horned Owl. Children are encouraged to come wearing their favorite costumes for the parade. There will be special activities that include face painting and a treasure hunt. Additionally, Miss Friendship Ambassador Amy Xie will tell the folkloric story of “Chang’E and Houyi Goddess of the Moon.”
This year’s Lit Fest will feature 70-plus programs featuring national and local award-winning writers; new and emerging novelists, journalists, and poets; children’s authors and illustrators; historians, scholars, comedians, and musicians.
Two of this year’s headliners are 2023 Pulitzer Prize Nonfiction category winners Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa who will discuss their work “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice” with WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
Praised by the New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice, Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post among other publications, the book covers how systematic racism shaped Floyd’s life and legacy.
Two of the most insightful, captivating literary podcasters of our time who give writers a much-deserved spotlight will make an appearance. The Fest proudly welcomes Ireland’s Pádraig O’Tuama, international poet and host of “Poetry Unbound” and Colorado native Mitzi Rapkin, host of the nationally-known “First Draft: A Dialogue on Writing.”
Among the celebrated novelists who will participate in thought-provoking panel discussions are Lisa Hsiao Chen of “Activities of Daily Living;” Talia Lakshmi Kolluri of “What We Fed to the Manticore” and Antoine Wilson of “Mouth to Mouth,” a personal favorite of President Barack Obama. There will be a roundtable of fiction writers representing the local scene. Those participating will be Ling Ma of “Bliss Montage: Stories,” and Rebecca Makkai of “I Have Some Questions for You” and “The Great Believers.”
The fest is honored to have 2009 Harold Washington Literary Award recipient Dave Eggers, author of the children’s book “The Eyes and the Impossible” on the programming schedule. In September, the Near South Planning Board will honor Pulitzer Prize winner and National Humanities Medal recipient, Isabel Wilkerson, as the 2023 Harold Washington Literary Award winner at its literary gala in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the lovely Union League Club of Chicago.
Amy Danzer, program director for the Lit Fest as well as assistant director of Graduate Programs at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and board president of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, enthusiastically mentioned that “the festival is a wonderful opportunity to inspire reading, celebrate books, and interact with people from all over. It’s also a chance to take part in meaningful conversations about important issues such as inequity in healthcare, the criminal justice system, and homelessness.”
Audiences will also hear from notable nonfiction writers such as New York Times Best Selling Author Chicago’s Jonathan Eig of “King: A Life,” the first major biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 40 years; former New York Times columnist and Columbia University Professor Samuel Freedman of “Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights (PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY),” Julia Keller of “Quitting: A Life Strategy: The Myth of Perseverance―and How the New Science of Giving Up Can Set You Free”; and Mo Ryan of “Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood.”
Bringing some laughter and levity to the Fest are Jena Friedman of “Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Et Cetera,” Julie Schumacher of “The English Experience” and Curtis Sittenfeld of “Romantic Comedy.” Sittenfeld’s book is a bestselling Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick.
A few novelists making their debuts on the writing scene are authors Elysha Chang of “A Quitter’s Paradise,” Jamila Minnicks of “Moonrise Over New Jessup,” and Dan Clay of “Becoming a Queen.” Clay’s drag persona is Carrie Dragshaw, inspired by the character of Carrie Bradshaw from the HBO series “Sex and the City” and “And Just Like That.”
Appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress, poets laureate create work that takes on national significance. The Fest will feature Poets Laureate avery r. young and Illinois’ fifth Poet Laureate Angela Jackson as they participate in a program called “The Poets Laureate.” In addition, the following poets will make their appearances: Kazim Ali of “Sunkun: New and Selected Poems,” Mary Jo Bang of “A Film in Which I Play Everyone: Poems,” Taylor Byas of “I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times: Poems,” and Charif Shanahan of “Trace Evidence: Poems.” Those are just a sampling of the impressive programs visitors will find as they attend the Fest.
PRLF Founder Bette Cerf Hill acknowledged that the “Printers Row Lit Fest is one of the largest and most diverse in the country and it is completely free. We started the Printers Row Lit Fest to bring booksellers, writers and book lovers out into the sunshine to celebrate ideas, literature, and knowledge together. Lit Fest is the opposite of banning books. It has been a joyous celebration of books for a long time for everyone.”
The Printers Row Lit Fest is supported by a Chicago Presents grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Major sponsors include Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business, and the Poetry Foundation. Media sponsors are Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago.
This is a sampling of the vast programming schedule. For more information about the fest, visit http://
About Printers Row Lit Fest:
The Printers Row Lit Fest, now in its 38th year, has become a cornerstone of the literary scene, attracting thousands of visitors annually. As one of the largest literary festivals in the country, it offers an incredible platform for established and emerging authors to engage with their readers and discuss their latest works. The festival celebrates the power of ideas to inspire, educate, and transform lives, making it a must-attend event for book lovers of all ages and the opposite of banning books.