Printers Row Lit Fest is anthology of Chicago’s literary world

The free two-day event will have over 100 booksellers, and more than 100,000 visitors are expected. It will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Festivalgoers peruse booksellers’ stalls at the 2022 Printers Row Lit Fest, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors during the two-day event.

Festivalgoers peruse booksellers’ stalls at the 2022 Printers Row Lit Fest, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors during the two-day event.

Robert Kusel

Printers Row Lit Fest, “a major contender” when it comes to literary festivals in the country, will return for its 38th year this weekend, lining the streets with thousands of book lovers.

The two-day festival will have 75-plus programs featuring over 200 national and local award-winning writers, new and emerging novelists, journalists and poets as well as children’s authors and illustrators, comedians and musicians.

One of the many speakers is Chicago author Jonathan Eig, who will be discussing his latest book “King: A Life” with Sun-Times columnist “Scoop” Jackson.

Eig worked on his book about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the first in over three decades, for six years, he said.

“I wanted to portray him more intimately and more humanly. I wanted to show how heroic he was. We turned him into a mythical figure, and I wanted to remind people that he was real.”

Eig, who has lived in Chicago for more than 25 years, said “people forget that King came here and lived. His work wasn’t completed but it continues.”

Jonathan Eig, author of “King: A Life.”

Jonathan Eig, author of “King: A Life.”

Provided

Also headlining the event are Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, the 2023 Pulitzer Prize nonfiction winners, who will discuss their work “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice with WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.

Chicago authors and writers are well represented, spanning different genres and topics, including Rebecca Makkai, whose latest novel, “I Have Some Questions For You,” is a New York Times bestseller; Bárbara Mujica, author of “Miss del Río,” which is based on the life of Dolores del Río, Hollywood’s first Latina star; and Kathleen Rooney, who has a new book called “From Dusk to Stardust.” Mujica and Rooney will appear together on a panel about women in Hollywood.

Printers Row Lit Fest is “a major contender in terms of literary festivals in the country,” said Amy Danzer, the festival’s program director, with the programs and featured authors “in conversation” about what’s going on in the current cultural climate.

According to Eig, the Lit Fest is a portal into Chicago’s literary world.

“Chicago is a great community and a great place to be a writer because people collaborate and support each other,” Eig said. “I love that people go [to the festival] for all kinds of reasons, they bring their kids, they come to hear the speakers and you see authors who are just starting out selling copies of their work.”

This year there will be an abundance of events for children, Danzer said.

Among them are folk tale readings, a storybook parade where kids can dress up as their favorite character, a “bubbles and bookmarks” dance party and many others.

“The programming this year is so diverse, there really is something for everyone,” Danzer said.

The fest, which began as a street book fair nearly four decades ago and has grown to a two-day event featuring 100 booksellers attracting more than 100,000 book lovers, continues at a time when several states have been targeting books with themes centered on race, identity, sexual orientation and gender. Illinois recently became the first state to ban book bans.

On Saturday, as part of the Chicago Public Library’s 150th anniversary, a session will focus on banned books with three authors who have have had their books banned: Jessie Ann Foley, Ami Polonsky and Ericka L. Sánchez.

“It’s a powerful thing that the fest is happening and enduring” in the wake of the book bans happening across the country, Danzer said.

The free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The fest stretches across five blocks, along South Dearborn Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk Street.

A map of the 2023 Printers Row Lit Fest.

A map of the 2023 Printers Row Lit Fest.

Provided

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