Southern Festival of Books announces lineup of award-winning authors, poets and literary legends


The annual festival brings leading figures from literature and culture to Nashville for panels, readings and debates

Humanities Tennessee today announced the first lineup of award-winning, best-selling authors who will headline the 34th annual Southern Festival of Books, being held October 14-16, 2022 in person at War Memorial Plaza and the main branch of the Nashville Public Library.

Featuring performances from more than 200 authors, the festival offers attendees the opportunity to connect with their favorite authors through a series of live events, panels, book signings and more. The squad includes Joshua Cohen, Rick Bragg, Tayari Jones, Andrew Sean Greer, Julie Otsuka, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Margo Price, Patrick Radden Keefe, Diane Kruger, and Andreas Jung, among other.

“We are thrilled and honored to have so many valued and talented writers at the 34thth annual Southern Festival of Books, said Tim Henderson, executive director of Humanities Tennessee. “This year’s festival has already become a memorable event as we meet in person for the first time in three years, but having so many brilliant authors there makes it even more special. Our entire team is looking forward to our best festival so far.”

Marquee performances and events for the 2022 Southern Festival of Books include:

  • JOSHUA COHEN (The Netanyahus: An Account of a Small and Eventually Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family): Cohen’s most recent novel is a 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, a 2021 National Jewish Book Award winner for fiction, a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and was named one of the year’s best books by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, circus, the av club, and The Telegraphamong other.
  • Rick Bragg (The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People): Bragg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author known for his thoughts on life in the South. He is the author of 12 books including World’s Best Chef: Tales from Mom’s Table, Anywhere but screaming and The Prince of Frogtown.
  • TAYARI JONES (Black People Could Fly: Selected Writings by Randall Kenan): Jones is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, a New York Times Bestselling author and winner of the Orange Prize, the Aspen Words Prize, and an NAACP Image Award. Her 2018 novel An American Marriage was an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and appeared on President Obama’s summer reading list. She wrote the introduction for Black People Could Fly: Selected Writings of Randall Kenan, which will be released on August 9, 2022.
  • ANDREW SEAN GREER (Less is Lost: A Novel): Greer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author. his upcoming novel, Less is Lost: A Novel is a sequel to Fewerwho won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Less is Lost: A Novel will be released on September 20, 2022.
  • MARGO PRICE (Maybe we can do it: a memory): Grammy-nominated country music artist and producer Price will make her literary debut on October 4, 2022 with the release of Maybe we can do it: a memorya story “of loss, motherhood and the search for artistic freedom”.
  • JULIE OTSUKA (The Swimmers: A Novel): A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, Otsuka is the best-selling author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the emperor was divine.
  • DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ (Take my hand: a novel): Perkins-Valdez is a New York Times Best-selling author, two-time NAACP Image Awards finalist, and DC Commission on the Arts Grant recipient. Inspired by true events, her newly published novel take my hand is about “a black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who points out a terrible wrong done to her patients.”
  • DIANE KRUGER (A name from heaven): Kruger’s acting career has spanned more than two decades in film and television and earned her a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress in 2017. The German actress and mother will make her literary debut with the autobiographical children’s book on October 25, 2022. A name from heaven.
  • Andrew Young (The Many Lives of Andrew Young): A politician, diplomat, activist and philanthropist, Young was a civil rights leader, the first black congressman from Georgia, a US ambassador to the United Nations, the mayor of Atlanta, the co-chairman of the 1996 Summer Olympics, the co-founder from Good Works International and co-founder of the Andrew Young Foundation. This new biography of celebrated Constitution of the Atlanta Journal Reporter Ernie Suggs examines Young’s illustrious and dynamic career.
  • PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE (Villains: True stories of crooks, killers, rebels and crooks): The new book from best-selling author and award-winning journalist Keefe, Villains: True stories of crooks, killers, rebels and crooksis a collection of 12 New Yorker Articles about criminals and scammers.
  • The theme track in partnership with the Robert Penn Warren Center in Vanderbilt is “Mending and Transforming” and will include GAL BECKERMANauthor of The Silence Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas and Senior Books Editor The Atlantic.
  • The Southern Festival of Books will once again partner with the Southern Foodways Alliance to host a panel discussion on food and culture with the winner of the John Egerton Prize, to be announced.

Click for a full list of festival writers here. Each Friday, more authors and other special announcements are added to the list.

In addition to 75 sessions over three days, the festival also offers 60 vendors, food trucks and three stages. A music stage focuses on the incredible talent of the Nashville music community, and the performing arts stage features drama, spoken word and poetry all weekend. Presented in partnership with Turnip Green Creative Reuse, the festival’s children’s stage and activity center features authors, musicians, artists, crafts, character costumes and parties celebrating popular children’s books.

The festival features authors from a variety of genres, including fiction and non-fiction, young adult fiction, poetry, science fiction and mystery. Selected festival books can be purchased and signed by the authors during the event. Parnassus Books is the festival’s bookseller.

Any interested media can arrange author interviews and access photos and promotional materials by sending a request to [email protected].

A regularly updated list of all authors can be found at To learn more about the Southern Festival of Books and to keep up to date with festival announcements, please follow us Twitter (@SoFestofBooks), Facebook (@SoFestofBooks) and so on Instagram (@sofestofbooks).


The Southern Festival of Books is presented by Humanities Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that promotes humanities education throughout Tennessee. The festival is proudly sponsored by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Ingram Content Group, Vanderbilt University, Parnassus Books and the Nashville Scene.


Humanities Tennessee is a nonprofit organization that promotes community and civility in Tennessee through engaging programs that explore and reflect on ideas, stories, history, art and culture. In addition to our own programs, we work with a variety of organizations across the state that similarly foster community dialogue and activities that lead us to think deeper and develop mutual respect and understanding for one another.

Humanities Tennessee, formerly the Tennessee Humanities Council, is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Founded in 1973, we continue to develop ways to connect, learn and grow as a community.


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