The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading returns for its 29th year as a live virtual event the week of Nov. 8-14. Its small but mighty roster of bestselling and award-winning authors includes this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, an Oprah’s Book Club author and a finalist for this year’s National Book Award.
All of the festival authors will be interviewed live via Zoom by Times book editor Colette Bancroft, with a Q&A with questions from viewers. Six of the seven events are free, with registration to receive a link.
Lauren Groff, Matrix, 7 p.m. Nov. 8
Acclaimed fiction writer Lauren Groff’s new novel, Matrix, is a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. Its main character, 17-year-old Marie de France, has just been exiled from the 12th century court of the English king, Henry II, by his queen, Eleanor of Aquitane, who sends Marie to take charge of an impoverished convent.
Read a review here.
Groff will appear in a live virtual conversation with Times book editor Colette Bancroft, followed by a viewer Q&A, at 7 p.m. Nov. 8. The event is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Michael Connelly, The Dark Hours, 7 p.m. Nov. 9
As Michael Connelly’s extraordinary new novel, The Dark Hours, begins, all of Los Angeles is waiting for 2020, that miserable year, to end. LAPD Detective Renée Ballard knows the safest place to be at the stroke of midnight: under the Cahuenga overpass, in the middle of a homeless encampment.
Read a review here.
Connelly will appear in a live virtual conversation with Bancroft at 7 p.m. Nov. 9. The virtual book launch is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, 7 p.m. Nov. 10
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a fiction writer, poet and essayist. Her debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, was published in August. The saga of a Black family across many generations, it has been named an Oprah’s Book Club novel and long-listed for the 2021 National Book Award for fiction.
Read a review here.
Jeffers will appear in a live virtual conversation with Bancroft, followed by a viewer Q&A, at 7 p.m. Nov. 10. The event is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Lisa Unger and Ace Atkins, Books & Bourbon, 7 p.m. Nov. 11
Lisa Unger is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author. With books published in 30 languages and millions of copies sold worldwide, she is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her latest psychological thriller, Last Girl Ghosted, is the story of a young woman who thinks she has met the perfect man on an online dating site — until he disappears. It was published in October. Read the review here.
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Ace Atkins is a New York Times bestselling author who has written 11 books about U.S. Army Ranger turned Mississippi sheriff Quinn Colson, the latest of which, The Heathens, was published this year. Atkins also continued Robert B. Parker’s iconic Spenser character after Parker’s death in 2010, writing eight novels in that series. Read an interview with Atkins about the book here.
Unger will appear with Atkins and Bancroft in Books & Bourbon, a live virtual event, followed by a viewer Q&A, at 7 p.m. Nov. 11. The event is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Craig Pittman and Cynthia Barnett, 2 p.m. Nov. 12
Craig Pittman is a native Floridian, born in Pensacola. In 30 years at the Tampa Bay Times, he won numerous state and national awards for his environmental reporting. His new book, The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife, is an anthology of 51 of his articles from the 1990s to the present. Read a review here.
Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water and climate change around the world. Her new book, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans, was published in July. Her journalism awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting and eight Green Eyeshades. Barnett teaches environmental journalism at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Read a review here.
Pittman and Barnett will appear in a live virtual conversation with Bancroft, followed by a viewer Q&A, at 2 p.m. Nov. 12. The event is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Michael Koryta as Scott Carson, Where They Wait, 2 p.m. Nov. 13
Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of 14 novels, a novella and multiple short stories. His new book, Where They Wait, is his second horror novel written under the pen name Scott Carson, after 2020′s The Chill. He will be on the faculty of Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise in January.
Read a review of the book here.
Koryta will appear in a live virtual conversation with Bancroft, followed by a viewer Q&A, at 2 p.m. Nov. 13. The event is free, but registration is required at festivalofreading.com.
Louise Erdich, The Sentence, 4 p.m. Nov. 14
Few novelists can fuse the comic and the tragic as beautifully as Louise Erdrich does, and she does it again in The Sentence. Erdrich’s last novel, The Night Watchman, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is based on historical events in the 1950s. Most of The Sentence takes place in 2020, its events still raw wounds.
Read the full review here.
Erdrich will be in conversation with Bancroft at a live virtual event, followed by an audience Q&A, at 4 p.m. Nov. 14. Erdrich’s talk is the festival’s only ticketed event. Tickets are $50 and include a copy of The Sentence and admission to the interview. Proceeds benefit the festival and the Times Journalism Fund. Tickets are available at festivalofreading.com.
Our book partners
Book sales will be handled by two local independent bookstores, Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg and the Bookstore at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa. Both will have some autographed copies of festival books available.