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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson Festival of Books comes to campus this weekend

    Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat The UA Bookstore has a display in the front entrance for books from authors featured at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend.

    Students who are fans of literature, no matter the genre, will have a reason to spend a few days of spring break on campus. On Saturday and Sunday, the Tucson Festival of Books will take place at the UA, bringing authors both new and old to campus.

    The variety of authors and genres at this weekend’s festival is staggering. More than 300 authors are participating in a myriad of different events. The Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom will host popular featured authors, as it houses 600 people. The Gallagher Theater will be the site of current events authors.
    Bill Viner is one of the co-founders of the Tucson Festival of Books and also serves as Chair of the Author’s Committee. As a co-founder, he uses his familiarity with the festival to provide oversight and help manage the event. The Author’s Committee that he heads meets on a monthly basis and consists of various representatives of different genres, from mystery to poetry.

    “I think we keep our ear to the ground, and if there’s certain topics that we think would be more popular in Tucson, then we’re certainly looking to bring those people here,” Viner said.
    One of the current trends in what college students are reading today is young adult literature. Indeed, 55 percent of the books sold in this genre, intended for youth under 18, are sold to those over 18. Novels set in dystopian worlds, like “Divergent,” “The Maze Runner” and “The Hunger Games,” are popular with this age group.

    “I think the same authors popular with college students are popular with the general public,” Viner said. “The adults have moved to the young adult literature. How many people have read ‘Harry Potter’?”
    Readers interested in mystery and thriller genres may recognize some attending authors, including Scott Turow, one of the foremost legal thriller writers in the country and the author of “Innocent” and 2013’s “Identical.” In addition, three recipients of the Edgar Award, given for top mystery book of the year, will be present. The three recipients, Steve Hamilton, T. Jefferson Parker and Thomas Perry, will discuss the impact of the award on their writing careers in Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center room 120 on Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    Several UA alumni will also present at the festival, including Richard Russo, who earned his bachelor’s degree, MFA and doctorate at the university. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Empire Falls” was published in 2002. HBO adapted the novel into a two-part mini-series for which Russo wrote the teleplay, starring Ed Harris, Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    Television producer Rebecca Eaton will also make an appearance this weekend. She serves as executive producer of PBS’s “Masterpiece” series (previously known as “Masterpiece Theatre”), which has brought the world such series as “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock.” Eaton will be a part of numerous events revolving around her book “Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS.”

    Apart from well-known names, a number of fresh faces in the literary world will also be in attendance.

    “We’re looking to bring as many feature authors as we can, but also we’re looking at emerging authors, authors that just have a good story to tell that might not be on everybody’s New York Times Best Seller List,” Viner said.

    Author and festival guest Anthony Marra’s first book, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel,” was published in May 2013. Festival guest Kevin Kwan is also a first-time novelist, whose book, “Crazy Rich Asians,” was published by Knopf Doubleday in June 2013. These two tenderfoots will join Ishmael Beah and Anthony De Sa for the “Delving into Fiction: Debut Novels” event. For students who are interested in the impact of having a first novel published, this may prove to be an invaluable event.

    The festival regularly draws more than 100,000 guests, but as it takes place the first weekend of spring break, many students may have already left town.

    “We’d certainly like as many of the student population to attend,” Viner said. “Start your spring break a day late. At least come to the book festival on one day, because it’s something you may never experience again.”

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