In effort to highlight the state’s rich literary legacy and combat its ranking among the lowest in youth literary rates, leaders announced the first Mississippi Book Festival will be held August 22.
The free event on the state capitol grounds in Jackson will feature 75 authors, headlined by New York Times bestselling author and Natchez native Greg Iles.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the event will honor Mississippi’s legacy of writers such as Tennessee Williams and Willie Morris, but he hopes it will help foster a cultural change.
“In a state that is home to Faulkner, Eudora Welty and so many other tremendous national treasures, to have a literacy rate amongst our young people that is alarmingly low is something that is certainly ironic and needs to be addressed,” Reeves said.
The festival aims to attract people of all ages, with presentations from illustrated children’s book authors, young adult authors and presentations on civil rights, romance, sports among others.
“What I’m really, really happy about are especially within young adult and civil rights history we’re have some really spectacular writers coming,” Steve Yates assistant director of the University Press of Mississippi said, singling out Kimberly Willis Holt for “Dear Hank Williams” and Deborah Wiles for “Freedom Summer.”
Former Gov. Haley Barbour will launch his book “America’s Great Storm,” which follows his tenure in the days and months after Hurricane Katrina, during a conversation moderated by journalist Curtis Wilkie.