Virginia Festival of the Book Announces 2018 Headliners

Books & Literature  •  News

A program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), the twenty-fourth annual Virginia Festival of the Book will be held March 21-25, 2018, at various locations in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Announced Tuesday September 19th at a VFH event sponsored by the Miller School of Albemarle, the 2018 Festival will feature the following headliners, whose work grapples with topics of race and history, social equality, international policy, culinary histories, war, and fake news, through diverse genres including poetry, young people’s literature, legal thrillers, literary fiction, and memoir:

Leland Melvin

NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, author of Chasing Space, will speak at the Read & Lead Lunch on Wednesday, March 21. He is an engineer and former NFL wide receiver, and served as a co-chair of the White House’s STEM Education Task Force. Tickets available at on September 21 at 9:00 AM.  Melvin will also be a Youth Headliner for the 2018 Festival, speaking to 2,400 local students in March.

Nathan Englander

Fiction writer and essayist Nathan Englander, author of Dinner at the Center of the Earth, will speak at the Literary Luncheon on Thursday, March 22. He is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Tickets available at on September 21 at 9:00 AM.

Attica Locke

Crime fiction and television writer Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird and the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction-winning novel Pleasantville, will speak at the Crime Wave Brunch on Saturday, March 24. Her work has been long-listed for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction and nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. Locke was also a writer and producer for the Emmy Award-winning television drama Tickets available at on September 21 at 9:00 AM.

Khizr Khan

Lawyer, father, and advocate for the U.S. Constitution Khizr Khan will speak on Thursday, March 22 about his forthcoming books, An American Family and This Is Our Constitution. His son, U.S. Army captain Humayun Khan, a U.Va. graduate, was killed in 2004 while stopping a suicide attack in Iraq and posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Khizr holds an LLM from Harvard Law School.

Michael Twitty

African American foodways and culinary historian Michael Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South and the award-winning Afroculinaria blog, will speak and host cooking demonstrations at the Festival, with the Wesley Foundation. He was named one of 50 people changing the South by Southern Living and was a 2016 TED Fellow.

Kevin Young

Poet and editor Kevin Young will speak about his forthcoming nonfiction book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Nov. 2017). He is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, incoming New Yorker poetry editor, and 2016 inductee to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work has been long-listed and selected as a finalist for the National Book Award.

Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds will participate in a panel discussion about race and writing. Reynolds is a National Book Award honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors.

In making these announcements on Tuesday evening, Festival director Jane Kulow said, “Conversations that broaden one’s thinking, that help support empathy, and that welcome all participants are more important to our community than ever. We are so excited to announce these authors whose books offer us great reading, plus the opportunity to explore topics and themes that are universal to the human experience.”

Tickets for select Festival programs go on sale at on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Additional details, speakers, and programs will be announced on as they are confirmed.

About the Virginia Festival of the Book

A signature program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) and the Virginia Center for the Book, the Virginia Festival of the Book brings readers and writers together for a five-day program of mostly free events including author readings, book signings, panel discussions, programs for children, and more. The 24th annual Festival will be held March 21-25, 2018, in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. The Festival has consistently attracted audiences of more than 20,000 from more than forty states each year, with an estimated local economic impact of about $4 million annually. To learn more, visit