Festival-goers browse the tents at the 7th annual San Antonio Book Festival.
Festivalgoers browse the tents at the 7th annual San Antonio Book Festival. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

If summed up in one word, the 2020 San Antonio Book Festival (SABF) promises “more.” More authors, more events, more venues, and more fun, according to Clay Smith, festival literary director.

Smith said the festival, a free event taking place Saturday, April 4, increased the number of writers from the usual 100 to 125, which not only provides more choice for festivalgoers, but also more authors in conversation with one another. “If there’s one thing we need more of in this country right now, it’s more intelligent conversation.”

In America today, he said, “we talk past each other. And one of the things that a book festival can do for us is remind people what it means to really sit down and listen.”

Lilly Gonzalez, SABF executive director, called the festival “Fiesta for the mind” and announced a new Fiesta medal featuring a clever moving-part construction with a turning book page. When turned, the page reveals an SABF insider phrase, “Read a f—— book.”

Another main focus of the festival will be having fun, Smith said. Replacing The Moth, a popular live literature event that opened the festival in past years, will be Lit Crawl, an event that started in San Francisco in 2004 and has since expanded to 15 cities worldwide.

Lit Crawl will be opening the festival Friday, April 3. The free event will take place at the Blue Star Arts Complex, including venues Blue Star Contemporary and Brick. “The audience is actively engaged in a lot of the events, and the programming is also a little bit more edgy,” Smith said.

Literary Death Match will make a return to the SABF, pitting authors against each other in lighthearted contests that involve being judged on how electrically they read passages from their books and how good they are at wielding silly string. Drinking is encouraged at the events, termed a “crawl” because it all takes place in close proximity in a single neighborhood.

Another new event will feature San Antonio stalwart Sandra Cisneros, who was given free rein to choose four authors to highlight for “Sandra Cisneros Presents.” Each deserves wider attention in her estimation: Diana Marie Delgado, John Olivares Espinoza, Christine Granados, and Joe Jimenez.

Texas authors are annually a prominent feature of the festival. If you missed Stephen Harrigan’s October visit to talk about his 900-page volume of Texas history Big Wonderful Thing, he’ll make a return appearance.

San Antonio authors include nationally recognized poet Naomi Shihab Nye, Yvette D. Benavides and TPR personality David Martin Davies, who collaborated on San Antonio 365: On This Day in History, Lewis Fisher promoting a new book, performance poet Amalia Ortiz, Lorenzo Gomez III, who was a featured speaker at the 2019 CityFest, award-winning poet Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, and alien investigator Whitley Strieber.

Women’s issues will also come to the fore, Smith said. That area of publishing, he said, “has just blossomed so much, and we have so many women writers. We’ll have a number of events about women’s place in American society.” Look for the full festival schedule to be released on March 12. More information on events is available on the festival website.

The full author lineup for the 2020 San Antonio Book Festival, with author names and featured titles, is listed below:

Marie Arana (Silver, Sword & Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story)

Chandler Baker (Whisper Network)

Steven Banks (Middle School Bites)

Janine Barchas (The Lost Books of Jane Austen)

Chris Barton (Fire Truck vs. Dragon)

Yvette D. Benavides (San Antonio 365: On This Day in History)

Diane Gonzales Bertrand (The Taco Magician and Other Poems for Kids / El mago de los tacos y otros poemas para niños)

Tonya Bolden (One Person, No Vote: How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally [YA Edition]; Saving Savannah)

Adrienne Brodeur (Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me)

Richard Brookhiser (Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea)

Lee Merrill Byrd (Birdie’s Beauty Parlor)

Geraldo Cadava (The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump)

Ada Calhoun (Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis)

Norma Cantú (Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Love, Life, and Labor)

Reyes Cárdenas (Tortured Barrio Songs)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo (Children of the Land: A Memoir)

Casey Cep (Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee)

Joe Cepeda (I See)

J.C. Cervantes (The Fire Keeper: A Storm Runner Novel, Book 2)

Michael Ray Charles (Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective)

Marcia Chatelain (Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America)

Sandra Cisneros (Puro Amor; A House of My Own)

Gilda R. Daniels (Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in the United States)

Jenny Davidson (The Duchess of Angus, ed.)

David Martin Davies (San Antonio 365: On This Day in History)

Steven L. Davis (The Essential J. Frank Dobie)

Kate Winkler Dawson (American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI)

Diana Marie Delgado (Tracing the Horse)

Jason DeParle (A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century)

Jaquira Díaz (Ordinary Girls: A Memoir)

Nicky Drayden (Escaping Exodus: A Novel)

Jennifer duBois (The Spectators)

John Olivares Espinoza (The Date Fruit Elegies: Poems)

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We’re Taking Back Our Power)

Lewis F. Fisher (Greetings from San Antonio: Historic Postcards of the Alamo City)

Henry Flores (Racism, Latinos, and the Public Policy Process)

George Friedman (The Storm Before the Calm: America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020’s, and the Triumph Beyond)

Xavier Garza (Vincent Ventura and the Mystery of the Witch Owl/Vincent Ventura y el misterio de la bruja lechuza; Maximilian & the Curse of the Fallen Angel)

Lorenzo Gomez III (Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear)

Rachel González (Quinceañera Style: Social Belonging and Latinx Consumer Identities)

Jessica Goudeau (After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America)

Christine Granados (Fight Like a Man and Other Stories We Tell Our Children)

S.C. Gwynne (Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War)

Stephen Harrigan (Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas)

Anthony Head and Jesse Treviño (Spirit: The Life and Art of Jesse Treviño)

Bethany Hegedus (Rise: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou)

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants)

Claudia D. Hernández (Knitting the Fog)

Faylita Hicks (HoodWitch)

Joe Holley (Sutherland Springs: God, Guns, and Hope in a Texas Town)

Dan Hooper (At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds)

Isabel Ibañez (Woven in Moonlight)

Lauren Michele Jackson (White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue…and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation)

Robert D. Jacobus (Black Man in the Huddle: Stories from the Integration of Texas Football)

Tiffany Jewell (This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work)

Paulette Jiles (Simon the Fiddler: A Novel)

Joe Jiménez (Rattlesnake Allegory)

Maureen Johnson (The Hand on the Wall: A Truly Devious Novel, Vol. 3)

Saeed Jones (How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir)

Peniel E. Joseph (The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.)

Fowzia Karimi (Above Us the Milky Way: An Illuminated Alphabet)

Michelle Ruiz Keil (All of Us with Wings)

Jeffrey J. Kripal (The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge)

Edward J. Larson (Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership)

Lindsay Leslie (Nova the Star Eater)

Attica Locke (Heaven, My Home: A Highway 59 Mystery)

Juliana Delgado Lopera (Fiebre Tropical)

Silvia López (Selena)

Mary Pauline Lowry (The Roxy Letters)

Louisa Luna (The Janes)

Samantha Mabry (Tigers, Not Daughters)

Bill C. Malone (Nashville’s Songwriting Sweethearts: The Boudleaux and Felice Bryant Story)

Bobbie Malone (Nashville’s Songwriting Sweethearts: The Boudleaux and Felice Bryant Story)

Mari Mancusi (Geeks and the Holy Grail: The Camelot Code, Book 2)

Claudia Guadalupe Martínez (Not a Bean)

Jim Martinez (Marfa Garden: The Wonders of Dry Desert Plants)

Leila Meacham (Dragonfly)

Tehlor Kay Mejia (We Set the Dark on Fire: A Novel)

Sarah Menkedick (Ordinary Insanity: Fear and the Silent Crisis of Motherhood in America)

Anna Meriano (Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief)

Alexandra Monir (The Life Below)

Amanda Montell (Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language)

Naomi Shihab Nye (Cast Away: Poems for Our Time)

Tim O’Brien (Dad’s Maybe Book)

Téa Obrecht (Inland)

Karen Olsson (The Weil Conjectures: On Math and the Pursuit of the Unknown)

Chibbi Orduña (Otro/Patria)

Amalia L. Ortiz (The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs)

Deborah Paredez (Year of the Dog)

Kimberly King Parsons (Black Light: Stories)

Scott Pelley (Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times)

Zeke Peña (My Papi Has a Motorcycle)

Severo Perez (Odd Birds)

Eduardo Porter (American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise)

Gerald Poyo (A Latino Memoir: Exploring Identity, Family, and the Common Good)

Lara Prescott (The Secrets We Kept)

Asher Price (Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact)

Isabel Quintero (My Papi Has a Motorcycle)

José R. Ralat (American Tacos: A History and Guide)

Nathaniel Rich (Losing Earth: A Recent History)

Donna Rifkind (The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood)

Clay Risen (The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century)

Fatima Ronquillo (Spellbound: Fatima Ronquillo)

Jeanne Safer (I Love You but I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World)

Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (She Lives in Music)

Richard Z. Santos (Trust Me)

Sehba Sarwar (Black Wings)

Mary Lou Saxon (Marfa Garden: The Wonders of Dry Desert Plants)

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (The Revisioners)

Cherise Smith (Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective)

Christina Soontornvat (A Wish in the Dark)

Sydney Ladensohn Stern (The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood)

Patrick Stockwell (The Light Here Changes Everything)

Whitley Strieber (A New World)

Tess Taylor (Rift Zone; Last West)

Camilla Townsend (Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs)

Anthony Head and Jesse Treviño (Spirit: The Life and Art of Jesse Treviño)

Deb Olin Unferth (Barn 8)

Kathy Valentine (All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir)

Liliana Valenzuela (Codex of Love: Bendita ternura)

Amanda Eyre Ward (The Jetsetters)

Elizabeth Wetmore (Valentine)

Ibi Zoboi (Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America)

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...