Each year at the Unbound Book Festival, Columbia’s literary community coalesces and mingle with authors from far beyond.
Readers can eagerly anticipate the arrival of a favorite author — or clamor for a new writing hero after encountering a particular panel or reading.
With so many authors approaching – and to keep it straight – it helps to get an idea of who is who. Here are just nine of the many faces to watch at this year’s Unbound, which runs April 21-24.
Learn more about this edition of the festival at https://www.unboundbookfestival.com/.
Who is Berry: The Canadian critic and journalist wrote “On Nostalgia” in 2020, a book the Toronto Star called “thick, complex and layered, but lifted with a devious spirit.” The artwork’s tagline reads, “From Mad Men to MAGA: How nostalgia was born and why we’re so keen to indulge in it.”
Berry’s articles include reviews, reports and thoughts on “Schitt’s Creek”, Harry Nilsson, Guillermo del Toro, Key and Peele, Leonard Cohen and more.
Where to catch it at the festival: Author Talk: Seriously Funny, 1:30 p.m. April 23 at Serendipity Lounge; This was the Days 3:15 p.m. panel on April 23 at The Broadway Hotel
Find Berry online: http://thedavidberry.com/ or on Twitter @pleasuremotors
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Who is Detrick-Jules: Gifted in all genres and disciplines, the Washington DC-based artist is a photographer, filmmaker and author. His films include the documentary short “DACAmented”, a visual profile of nine Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. And her 2021 book “My Beautiful Black Hair” honors natural hair as a key feature of black femininity.
Where to find her at the festival: 10 a.m. on April 23 at Ragtag Cinema
Find Detrick-Jules online: https://www.stclairdetrickjules.com/ or on Twitter @stclair_dj
Who is Hawkins: A professor and associate provost at Columbia College Chicago, Hawkins is a self-described “transgender writer” whose work spans nonfiction, visual memoirs, video essays, podcasts and more.
Hawkins’ 2019 book “These Are Love Letters(d)” offers a tender and tenuous treatment of the love letter as a genre, starting with their parents’ love letters and moving on. stretching to consider their own experience of family, sexuality, creativity and identity.
“As poetic as it is visually appealing, the book offers an unconventional yet queer(ed) understanding of documentary form that will excite both readers and artists across and beyond genres,” the site notes. Author’s website.
Where to catch them at the festival: Queer Time Panel, 1:30 p.m. April 23 at The Broadway Hotel
Find Hawkins online:https://www.ameshawkins.com/ or on Twitter @amesthehawk
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Who is Kelly: The Philadelphia-based journalist maintains a strong reporting portfolio and social media presence, covering labor issues and cultural phenomena for Teen Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire and GQ. She was also Noisey’s heavy metal editor for five years.
Kelly’s first book, “Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labour,” will be released shortly after the festival ends on April 26.
Where to find her at the festival: Take this Job panel, 11:45 a.m. April 23 at the Tiger Hotel
Find Kelly online: https://about.me/kimkelly or on Twitter @GrimKim
Who is Leichter: The Columbia University professor caused a stir with his debut novel, 2020’s ‘Temporary.’ year at NPR, Publishers Weekly, Vulture and more. The New York Times compared it to “a comedic, gloomy Alice in Wonderland set in the gig economy”.
More are on the way, with news that Leichter has novels slated for release in 2023 and 2024.
Where to find her at the festival: Take This Job Panel, April 23
Find Leichter online: https://www.hilaryleichter.com/ or on Twitter @hilsaphina
Who is Nagamatsu: The Minneapolis-based professor and novelist is generating serious buzz for this year’s “How High We Go in the Dark,” an eerily prescient portrait set after a pandemic. Goodreads called Nagamatsu’s work “a science fiction novel within stories”. The book has received love from people like Roxane Gay, who made it her March book pick for Literati.
Where to catch it at the festival: Author Talk: Pop Culture, 11:45 a.m. April 23 at Orr Street Studios; Blue Planet Panel, 3:15 p.m. April 23 at the Tiger Hotel
Find Nagamatsu online: https://www.sequoianagamatsu.com/ or on Twitter @SequoiaN
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Viet Thanh Nguyen
Who is Nguyen: A Pulitzer Prize winner for his debut novel, 2015’s “The Sympathizer,” Nguyen is a remarkably versatile writer. His work spans fiction – ‘Committed’, a sequel to ‘The Sympathizer’, released last year – non-fiction and children’s literature.
A professor at the University of Southern California and a frequent contributor of opinion pieces to publications such as The New York Times, Nguyen is also deeply involved in amplifying the voices of Vietnamese creators in the diaspora; he was born there in 1971, before moving to the United States with his family four years later.
Where to catch it at the festival: Main event, 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the Missouri Theater
Find Nguyen online: https://vietnguyen.info/home
Who is Peynado: An O. Henry and Pushcart award-winning author, Peynado’s 2021 collection of short stories “The Rock Eaters” is the work of a writer who “shows breathtaking literary agility,” said Jason Heller of NPR.
A writer and professor of fiction and screenwriting, Peynado’s work touches on a number of genres while featuring “perfectly realistic exaggerations thrown into the mix,” notes his website.
Where to find her at the festival: Fantasy Stories panel, Saturday 5 p.m. at the tiger hotel
Find Peynado online: https://brendapeynado.com/ or on Twitter @BrendaPeynado
Who is Standefer: Based in New Mexico, Standefer captured attention with “Lightning Flowers” in 2020. Part memoir, part exploration of our health care systems, the book traces the author’s arc – and the route borrowed by a so-called medical marvel – when it comes to relying on a heart defibrillator. Kirkus Reviews said the book is “filled with emotion and a rare, honest assessment of the worth of one’s own life”.
Standefer is also a teacher and her work has appeared everywhere from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times to The Rumpus, The Iowa Review and anthologies.
Where to find her at the festival: Panel Do No Harm, 1:30 p.m. on April 23 at the Tiger Hotel
Find Standefer online: http://www.katherinestandefer.com/ or on Twitter @girlmakesfire
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Aarik Danielsen is the Features and Culture Editor for Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.