2016 Arkansas Literary Festival preview 

Readers get ready.

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April is the coolest month for bookworms, because that's when the Arkansas Literary Festival returns. This weekend, April 14-17, authors will read, lecture, answer questions and (most likely) party. Novelists, screenwriters, actors, cooks, poets and artists will talk about how they do what they do at venues throughout downtown and midtown Little Rock (and in Conway, at Hendrix College). In short, the Lit Fest is taking over, and you won't be able to escape it.

To set the mood, the Times offers interviews with several writers:

A Q&A with Peter Guralnick
On writing biographies, Elvis, Charlie Rich and more.
by Will Stephenson

A Q&A with Angela Flournoy

On her novel "Turner House," Arkansas connections, race and housing discrimination and more.
by Benjamin Hardy

A Q&A with Kevin Young
He's the author of "The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness" and "Blue Laws."
by James Matthews

A Q&A with Kiese Laymon
On writing as survival, reading the canon, fiction v. nonfiction and more.
by James Murray

A Q&A with Alex Mar
On magic, mysticism and memoir.
by Rachael Borné

A Q&A with Adam Hochschild
On pacifism; historical leftists; and his new book, "Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939."
by Benjamin Hardy

A Q&A with Chris Offut
On his father's secret erotic fiction writing career, genre fiction and more.
by David Koon


7 p.m. "John Gould Fletcher Lecture" by Ben Johnson (Ron Robinson Theater).

7:30 p.m. Reading by poet Kevin Young (Reves Recital Hall, Hendrix College).


Noon. Rien Fertel on barbecue (Whole Hog Cafe).

Noon. Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre Sneak Peek (Cox Creative Center).

Noon. Reading by Philip Martin (Main Library, East Room).

Noon. Central Arkansas Escape Rooms (Main Library, West Room).

5:30 p.m. "Scars: An Anthology" (MacArthur Museum).

5:30 p.m. Author Nikki Grimes and illustrator E.B. Lewis reception (Hearne Fine Art). Nikki Grimes is a poet, journalist and best-selling (and award-winning) author of children's and young adult fiction. E.B. Lewis is a renowned book illustrator who has collaborated with Grimes, among many other successful authors. He is on the board of the Hall of Fame of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

7 p.m. "Author! Author!" party (Main Library).


10 a.m. Central Arkansas Escape Rooms (Main Library, West Room).

10 a.m. Angie Macri, Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis and George David Clark, poems (Arkansas Studies Institute, Room 124).

10 a.m. Celeste Fletcher McHale and Suzi Parker (Cox Creative Center).

10 a.m. Linda VanBlaricom and Maysa Sem, adult coloring books (Main Library, Fribourgh).

10 a.m. Jacob M. Appel, Jeffrey Condran and Tyrone Jaeger (Historic Arkansas Museum).

10 a.m. "How The Camel Got His Hump" (Children's Library).

10 a.m. The Kinders, music (Main Library, Youth Services).

11 a.m. Steve Biernacki, "Rock the Block" (Children's Library).

11 a.m. Peggy Reiff Miller (Heifer Village).

11:30 a.m. Kathryn Budig (Main Library, Darragh).

11:30 a.m. Kiese Laymon and Jose Orduna (ASI, Room 124). See Q&A with Laymon on p. 18.

11:30 a.m. Adam Hochschild (MacArthur Museum). See Q&A on p. 21.

11:30 a.m. Ashley Warlick and Keija Parssinen (Cox Creative Center).

11:30 a.m. Angie Macri, Tyrone Jaeger, Suzi Parker (Historic Arkansas Museum).

11:30 a.m. Daniel Black (Mosaic Templars Cultural Center).

11:30 a.m. Tom Wilhite (Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center).

Noon. Alan Cumyn, Janet B. Taylor and Jeff Zentner (Main Library, Level 4).

1 p.m. Gregory Pardlo and Kevin Young (Christ Episcopal Church).

1 p.m. Nathalia Holt, Julie Checkoway and Mary Pilon (Ron Robinson Theater).

1 p.m. Chris Bachedler and Steve Stern (ASI, Room 124). Memphis writer Steve Stern studied writing at the University of Arkansas under C.D. Wright and Lewis Nordan before going on to considerable success as a fiction writer, hailed by critics like Susan Sontag and Cynthia Ozick as a worthy successor to Isaac Baschevis Singer. His latest book, "The Pinch," was published last year by Graywolf Press. Chris Bachedler is a novelist — his latest book is "The Throwback Special" — and a frequent contributor to McSweeney's and The Believer.

1 p.m. John H. Johnson (Historic Arkansas Museum).

1 p.m. Ken Liu and V.E. Schwab (Cox Creative Center).

1 p.m. Andy Warner, Sonny Liew and Cole Closser (Main Library, Darragh).

1 p.m. Elias Weiss Friedman, a.k.a. The Dogist (Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center).

1 p.m. Nikki Grimes (Children's Library).

1 p.m. Gabrielle Simone (Main Library, Youth Services).

2 p.m. 3D Printing (Clinton Children's Library).

2:30 p.m. Chris Offutt and Harrison Scott Key (Main Library, Darragh). See interview with Offutt on p. 22. Humorist Harrison Scott Key is the author of the acclaimed memoir, "The World's Largest Man."

2:30 p.m. Kevin Brockmeier and Jedediah Berry (ASI, Room 124). Little Rock native (and current resident) Kevin Brockmeier is among the most distinguished and celebrated writers of his generation, crafting award-winning literary fiction out of sci-fi and other genre influences. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker and the Oxford American, and he's among the Lit Fest's most beloved and entertaining readers. Jedediah Berry grew up in the Catskills and won wide acclaim for his 2009 debut novel, "The Manual of Detection," which also shows a marked genre fiction influence.

2:30 p.m. Christian Appy (MacArthur Museum).

2:30 p.m. Toni Tipton-Martin and Meredith Abarca (Mosaic Templars Cultural Center).

2:30 p.m. Andrew Malan Milward and Ed Tarkington (Cox Creative Center).

2:30 p.m. Clara Bensen (Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center).

3 p.m. Snacktivity (Children's Library).

3 p.m. Drum Circle (Main Library, Youth Services).

3 p.m. Fast Food Fun (Main Library, Level 4).

4 p.m. E.B. Lewis, DJ Stout and Mick Wiggins (Main Library, Darragh).

4 p.m. Alex Mar (Cox Creative Center). See Q&A p. 20.

4 p.m. Rob Spillman and Rashod Ollison (ASI, Room 124). Rob Spillman is the editor of Tin House, one of the country's most prestigious and consistently fascinating literary magazines. His new book is "All Tomorrow's Parties," a memoir about coming of age in Berlin. Rashod Ollison, a Little Rock native and onetime Arkansas Times Academic All-Star, is a pop critic for the Virginian-Pilot. His new memoir, which the Times excerpted earlier this year, is "Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl," about growing up an outsider in rural Arkansas and turning to his parents' record collections for guidance.

4 p.m. Melissa Ginsburg and Nina Sadowsky (Historic Arkansas Museum).

4 p.m. Sanderia Faye and Phyllis R. Dixon (Mosaic Templars Cultural Center).

4 p.m. Teen Poetry Competition (Main Library, Level 4).

4:30 p.m. The Root Cafe's 2nd Annual Traditional Pie Bake-Off and Recipe Swap (The Root Cafe).

5:30 p.m. Garth Greenwell and Karan Mahajan (Main Library, Darragh). Kentucky native Garth Greenwell is a fiction writer, poet and critic, whose debut "What Belongs to You" is one of the year's best-reviewed novels. "He seems to have an inborn ability to cast a spell," New York Times critic Dwight Garner wrote in his review. Karan Mahajan, a contributor to The New Yorker and The Believer, is the author of one of the year's most widely acclaimed novels, "The Association of Small Bombs," which the New York Times called "smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout."

5:30 p.m. Peter Guralnick (Oxford American Annex). See Q&A p. 24.

7 p.m. Pub or Perish (Stickyz).

8 p.m. Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe, "How May We Hate You" (Ron Robinson Theater).


Noon. Angela Flournoy and Arna Hemenway (Ron Robinson Theater). See Q&A with Flournoy, this page.

Noon. Oliver Roeder (Sturgis Hall). Oliver Roeder is a senior writer at FiveThirtyEight.com, a former Economics Fellow at the Brennan Center's Justice Program, and the author of the article "Gridgate," which made considerable waves in the crossword puzzle community and which he'll discuss before Arkansas Puzzle Day begins at the Clinton School for Public Service's Sturgis Hall.

1 p.m. Arkansas Puzzle Day (Sturgis Hall).

1:30 p.m. Sloane Crosley (Ron Robinson Theater). Sloane Crosley is the New York Times best-selling author of the essay collections "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" (optioned recently for a series by HBO) and "How Did You Get This Number." She has been a columnist for the New York Times and the Village Voice and a contributor to GQ, Spin and Esquire. She once appeared as herself in the TV show "Gossip Girl."

3 p.m. Gregg Hurwitz (Ron Robinson Theater). Gregg Hurwitz is an accomplished writer of crime novels, screenplays and comics, having scripted successful runs of Marvel titles "Wolverine," "Punisher" and "Foolkiller" and the DC series "Batman: The Dark Knight." His latest novel, "Orphan X," published in January, has already been optioned by Warner Bros. (with Bradley Cooper attached to direct and star).

4:30 p.m. "Classic In Context: 'Anna Karenina' " (Ron Robinson Theater).

5:30 p.m. "Anna Karenina" (1948) screening. (Ron Robinson Theater).



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