Humanities Tennessee Saturday announced a lineup of award-winning, bestselling authors who will headline the 29th annual Southern Festival of Books in Nashville taking place Oct. 13-15. The roster includes such notables as Jami Attenberg, Ann Beattie, Chris Bohjalian, Wiley Cash, Clyde Edgerton, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Eig, Radney Foster, Andy Hardin, Rodney Jones, Nicole Krauss, Peter Cooper, Ron Rash and Ben Winters.

The Southern Festival of Books is a free event that annually attracts 25,000 attendees to meet their favorite authors, become familiar with talented new writers and engage like-minded fans and followers of great literature. The Festival has become one of the most popular literary events in the country as guests travel to Nashville to experience an abundance of authors and their books, along with food, entertainment and culture.

In addition to Festival events, the fundraising dinner Authors in the Round on Friday, October 13, provides patrons with an evening of dining and conversation with the authors.

This year, Humanities Tennessee has partnered with Watkins College of Art, one of the foremost art and design colleges in the nation, to merge the Handmade & Bound Festival into the Southern Festival of Books footprint. Handmade & Bound is a festival that celebrates independent publications and printed matter, featuring artists’ books, zines, mini-comics and all things book arts. Watkins will hold its 7thannual festival in conjunction with the Southern Festival of Books, offering craft sales, hands-on demonstrations and a community project. The Handmade & Bound festival regularly attracts hundreds of literary lovers and artisans from all over Middle Tennessee.

“This is a natural partnership for the Southern Festival of Books and Humanities Tennessee,” said Tim Henderson, Executive Director of Humanities Tennessee. “The Handmade & Bound Festival is a well-established literary and cultural event in Nashville and it makes perfect sense to hold our two events jointly. We think this will only enhance the festival experience.”

“Handmade and Bound celebrates the art of the book, and we think there is no better place to acknowledge the partnership of story and design than with this wonderful community of book lovers,” said Maggie Fansher, Director of Community Education for Watkins.

Marquee appearances and events for the 2017 Southern Festival of Books will feature:

  • Local authors including former Tennessean music columnist Peter Cooper (Johnny’s Cash and Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music); Andy Hardin, whose book The Awakening of HK Derryberry tells the inspiring story of a friendship between a middle-class man and a young disabled boy with extraordinary abilities; and 2016 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate Cassidy Martin (Green).
  • Pulitzer Prize winners Jennifer Egan (Manhattan Beach: A Novel) and Rodney Jones (Village Prodigies) who will showcase highly-anticipated new works of fiction and poetry.
  • New York Times-bestselling authors Jami Attenberg (All Grown Up); Chris Bohjalian (The Sleepwalker) whose novel Midwiveswas also a selection of Oprah’s Book Club; Wiley Cash (The Last Ballad); and National Book Award finalist Nicole Krauss (Forest Dark). 
  • Short stories from award winners Ann Beattie, who will introduce her new collection from Library of America entitled Peter Taylor: Complete Stories followed by a discussion on her own collection The Accomplished Guest: Stories, and recognized musician and Grand Ole Opry regular Radney Foster (For You to See the Stars).
  • A reading and Q&A session with Clyde Edgerton in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his classic novels Raney and The Floatplane Notebooks.
  • Former Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Eig, whose biography Ali: A Life chronicles the transformation of Muhammed Ali, one of America’s most compelling and polarizing figures. 
  • Celebrated children’s and young adult authors Sarah Dessen (Once And For All); Stephanie Perkins (There’s Someone Inside Your House); and author and illustrator Judy Schachner (Sarabella’s Thinking Cap).
  • Fiction from Appalachian writer and New York Times bestseller Ron Rash (The Risen) and distinguished author Ben Winters(Underground Airlines).

For a full lineup of Festival authors, click here.

In addition to three days of author readings and talks, the Festival also features three performance stages. A music stage focuses on the incredible talent of the Nashville music community and the performing arts stage offers theater, spoken word and poetry throughout the weekend. The Festival children’s stage features authors, musicians, performers, crafts, character costumes and parties celebrating beloved children’s books.

The Festival is committed to curating a diverse collection of books by authors who will discuss and autograph their books. This group includes writers of adult, young adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestsellers and book club favorites. More than 60 publishers, booksellers and nonprofit organizations will exhibit at the event, and Parnassus Books serves as the onsite bookseller.

All interested media (online, print, broadcast, etc.) can arrange author interviews and access photographs and promotional materials by sending a request or by calling (615) 242-8856.


The Southern Festival of Books is presented by Humanities Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that promotes humanities education across Tennessee. The Festival is proudly sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Ingram Content Group, The Memorial Foundation, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Middle Tennessee State University, Parnassus Books and the Nashville Scene.

Humanities Tennessee and The Southern Festival of Books are online at Join the Festival on Facebook and follow it on Twitter and Instagram @SoFestBooks.