Unbound Book Festival is made for readers

The new Columbia event will feature nationally-renowned authors.

Unbound Book Festival will soon join Roots N Blues and True/False on the annual roster of local festivals.

The first Unbound Book Festival, which is planned to be an annual event, will take place on the Stephens College campus Saturday.

This event is designed to serve readers, not writers, according to Alex George, the festival’s director.

“We are inviting authors from all across the country,” George says. “These are bestselling and nationally renowned authors.”

Writers will participate in panel discussions spaced throughout the day: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature.

The goal of the festival is to invite readers to become more involved in literary conversation, George says. At least one-third of every panel discussion will be set aside for the presenters to answer questions from the audience.

The panels are set up as interviews between two or more authors following a short reading, so the audience gets to see a conversation about the book instead of just a recitation of the text.

One of the most anticipated presentations will be from Sen. Claire McCaskill, who will talk about her memoir, “Plenty Ladylike” in the Windsor Auditorium at noon.

There will also be a discussion of the new biography “Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation” with co-authors and MU political science professors James W. Endersby and William T. Horner, interim UM System President Mike Middleton and interim Vice Chancellor of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, Chuck Henson. They will also use this new work to discuss the current state of social justice in the U.S. and the landmarks that led to where we are now.

“It’s going to be an incredibly high-powered panel,” George says. “They’ll be talking about the protests at Mizzou, so I think it’ll be a huge discussion.”

Proceeds from the festival will go towards the Literacy Action Corps, a nonprofit organization in Columbia that works to improve literacy standards throughout Missouri, specifically through adult education in basic literacy and English as a second language.

The free kick-off event for the festival, a night with Michael Ondaatje at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Missouri Theater, is currently sold out online, but vacant seats will be available on a first-come basis at the door. Ondaatje is a world-renowned author who is best known for his book “The English Patient,” which inspired the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.

On Saturday, all seats at the panels will be free at the door, on a first-come basis. The panels have been staggered to allow time for festival attendees to make it to another panel, should their first choice be full.

The event schedule is available on the Unbound Book Festival website, so anyone who is interested can plan out their schedule ahead of time.

Since this is the inaugural year of Unbound, George recommends arriving early to the panels because the staff doesn’t have any reliable way to predict how many people will attend the festival.

Acclaimed poet Mark Doty and authors Laura McBride, who wrote “We Are Called to Rise,” are also set to appear in the festival.

The festival takes place 10:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m April 23.

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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