Albany Book Festival goes virtual

The linguist Noam Chomsky in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in a file photo from 2006. (Jodi Hilton/The New York Times)

The linguist Noam Chomsky in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in a file photo from 2006. (Jodi Hilton/The New York Times)

ALBANY – The Albany Book Festival is going virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organized by the New York State Writers Institute, the festival will be held from Thursday, Sept. 10, through Thursday, Sept. 24, and all events will be available online for free.

The lineup features discussions and events with high-profile authors like Noam Chomsky and Colum McCann. It’s the third Book Festival that the Institute has hosted and in previous years, it’s brought thousands of bibliophiles to the University at Albany.

“We are inspired to make this year’s virtual book festival the best experience possible,” said the Institute’s director Paul Grondahl in a statement. “You’ll experience engrossing conversations with amazing featured authors, including National Book Award winner Colum McCann; National Book Award finalists Edwidge Danticat and Kali Fajardo-Anstine; Noam Chomsky, one of the most cited scholars in modern history; Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking”; and many more. This year’s lineup reinforces our commitment to diversity and inclusion and offering voices across the spectrum.”

J. Courtney Sullivan, author of “Maine” and most recently, “Friends and Strangers,” starts off the Festival on Thursday with a discussion about her latest novel. Harold Holzer, author of “The President vs. The Press” follows on Friday.

Then, on Monday, Gish Jen, author of “The Resisters,” will discuss taking risks with one’s writing with Jane Leavy, who wrote “The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created.”

Cree LeFavour, who penned “Private Means” and critic Dwight Garner will discuss books and a bookish marriage on Tuesday. Author, child advocate and UNICEF Ambassador Ishmael Beah will talk about his new book “Little Family” on Wednesday and Sierra Crane Murdoch will follow on Thursday, September 17 with a discussion about her first book “Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country.”

A conversation with McCann (“Apeirogon”) will be available on Friday, Sept. 18, and following that, there will be a discussion with Chomsky and Robert Pollin on Monday, September 21.

Short fiction will be the focus the following day, with “A Conversation About the Joys of the Short Story Form” with authors Kali Fajardo- Anstine (“Sabrina & Corina”) and Edwidge Danticat (“Everything Inside: Stories”).

Matthew McElligott, a professor and chair of the Art + Design Department at Sage College in Albany, will discuss his latest picture book “Do Not Eat The Game!” on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

The following day, there will be a live discussion with Sister Helen Prejean at 7:30 p.m. concerning the abolition of the death penalty and her memoir, “River of Fire.” All other author discussions will be available to view on the dates listed starting at 1 p.m.

Throughout the festival, there will also be workshops, including a climate writing workshop with Reif Larson on Saturday, Sept. 19, and a memoir writing workshop with Marion Roach Smith, among other workshops.

All events will be online at and the NYS Writers Institute’s YouTube channel. Workshops will require advanced registration. For the full schedule and more information call 518-442-5620.

Categories: Entertainment

Leave a Reply