Saturday, the State Capitol complex will be transformed into the Mississippi Book Festival — a “Literary Lawn Party” — with hundreds of authors, dozens of panels, kids’ activities, booksellers and more, all live broadcast by C-SPAN. Acclaimed writers Richard Ford and Greg Iles top the festival’s top of 220-plus authors. The third annual event also brings a host of special exhibits for readers, thinkers, book lovers and book collectors.

The free 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Missisippi Book Festival opens with special guest, the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, in the Old Supreme Court chamber in the State Capitol. “Then, for the next eight hours, we’ll pack in 38 official panels in the State Capitol and Galloway Methodist Church,” festival executive director Holly Lange said.

Among the highlights:
• Greg Iles discusses his new book, Mississippi Blood, with Stanley Nelson and Jerry Mitchell
• NYT best-selling writer and Jackson’s own Angie Thomas headlines a panel of young adult authors
• Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford and Millsaps College President Rob Pearigen discuss Ford’s new memoir
• PBS’ A Chef’s Life star Vivian Howard discusses her new cookbook with James Beard Foundation Award-winning Oxford chef John Currence
• Editors of the new Mississippi Encyclopedia take you behind-the-scenes of the 1,400-page reference tome
• Mississippi’s Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly moderates a group of the state’s finest poets
• Otto Penzler, owner of New York City’s famous bookstore for mystery writers, will hosts some of his favorites in a one-of-a-kind panel discussion
• Best-selling Dispatches of Pluto author Richard Grant assembles a fascinating panel of first-time authors to talk about their new books
• Square Books owner Richard Howorth, leads a trio of favorite authors in a discussion of Larry Brown, the South, and the Modern Novel
• NYT best-selling author Mark Bowden talks about his new book, Huê 1986, about the Vietnam War
• Bill Ferris — folklorist, scholar and former National Endowment for the Humanities chairman — brings together five authors to discuss their photography, and blues music historia Scott Barretta, does the same for Mississippi’s musical heritage
• Popular children’s book author Candace Fleming headlines a 9:30 a.m. opening panel on children’s literature in Galloway Sanctuary
• The capital city’s own Linda Williams Jackson and Taylor Kitchings join three more writers to discuss their latest books for middle-school readers.

And, that’s just the start. Official festival panels will cover topics as diverse as Southern fiction, art in Mississippi, historical fiction, history and biography, children’s illustrated books, cooking, and U.S. presidents.

Find a full listing of panels and authors on the website

MS Book Festival Press Release