Friends of Virginia Humanities,
On Sunday, we wrapped up our 24th annual Virginia Festival of the Book, the largest community-based book event in the mid-Atlantic, which draws tens of thousands to Charlottesville each March. Here are a few highlights:
- Author and astronaut Leland Melvin spoke with 2,400 students about how perseverance helped him succeed in the NFL and at NASA.
- In two very different programs, Literary Luncheon speaker Nathan Englander and Thursday night keynote speaker Khizr Kahn separately conveyed the importance of understanding others’ perspectives—even if they are very different from one’s own.
- UVA president-elect Jim Ryan spoke with his long-time friend Mark Lorenzoni to a full house at The Paramount Theater about life’s essential questions.
- We power-washed quotes from Jesmyn Ward’s The Fire This Time onto city streets, creating the Festival’s first-ever public art installation, #UnseenCville.
- Michael Twitty, award-winning food writer, independent scholar, and African American culinary historian provided a cooking demonstration over an open fire.
- 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award recipients Peter Ho Davies, Tyehimba Jess, and Margot Lee Shetterly spoke with Rita Dove about making the American story more complete.
Many audio and video recordings of Festival programs are available now on VaBook.org.
I’m excited to share that the Festival has committed to a five-year goal of having at least half its featured authors represent diverse backgrounds by 2021. Identifying diversity in race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, and other metrics, the percentage of diverse authors has grown from 10% (in 2015), to 20% (2016), 22% (2017), and now 29% (2018).
To help this dynamic programming grow and continue, please make an investment in Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Festival of the Book today.
Why give? Your support helps us not only reach the Festival’s diversity goal, but also ensure its long-term sustainability, allowing us to build the level of excellence our audiences have come to expect, and attract new audiences through the increased visibility that comes from recruiting tough-to-get, internationally-recognized authors.
We’re grateful to the authors, volunteers, audiences, community partners, sponsors, and staff who made this Festival possible, bringing the liveliest celebration of books and reading to the Commonwealth. And while the Book Festival staff catches their breath, I’m already looking forward to next year!