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It’s an ‘all-star lineup,’ with Wendell Berry as the headliner, at this year’s Kentucky Book Fair

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Renowned essayist, novelist and poet Wendell Berry heads an “all-star lineup” for the 34th annual Kentucky Book Fair.

Berry will be among more than 200 international, national and state authors and illustrators at the state’s premier literary event on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Frankfort Convention Center.

The fifth annual Kids and Teens Day, featuring more than 40 authors and illustrators, will be Friday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., also at the convention center.

Wendell Berry (Photo by Guy Medes/Kentucky Book Fair)

Wendell Berry (Photo by Guy Mendes/Kentucky Book Fair)

Berry, also a farmer and environmental activist from Henry County, was the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, when he was enshrined earlier this year at the Carnegie Center in Lexington. The prolific author has written more than 40 books, earning praise and respect from an international audience.

Berry, a perennial bestselling author at the book fair, will sign several of his titles including his latest releases, Our Only World: Ten Essays and a new publication of Sabbaths 2013, from Larkspur Press.

Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon as well as two former recipients, Frank X Walker and Richard Taylor, will also be in attendance. Lyon, a noted children’s author, will sign Boats Float! with son and co-author, Benn. Walker, a founder of Affrilachian Poets, will sign his latest book of poetry, About Flight, while Taylor will have several of his recent titles.

Here a few more of the authors appearing at this year’s fair, beginning with fiction:

Congressman Steve Israel, who represents New York’s Third District, wrote The Global War on Morris, a witty, political satire ripped from the headlines. Critics have called it a laugh-out-loud funny book that is sure to delight those who follow the Washington politics.

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Cheryl Della Pietra’s novel, Gonzo Girl, is based on her time as an assistant to the legendary Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a rollicking reflection on life with the famed gonzo journalist.

Vince Vawter, a former newspaperman, became a Newbery Award-winning author with Paperboy, a poignant story about an 11-year-old boy who can pitch a great game but can’t talk because of stuttering.

Peter Golden’s novel, Wherever There Is Light, delves into the little-known history of the rescue of German Jews from Nazi Germany by historically black colleges in the United States.

Mary McDonough, who portrayed Erin on the TV series, “The Waltons,” returns to the book fair with her first novel, One Year. It’s heartfelt story about three generations of women in a modern Irish-American family as they navigate marriage, motherhood, and independence.

Jacinda Townsend’s Saint Monkey is about a young African-American who leaves Kentucky for the Harlem jazz scene. The book won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction.

Robert Gipe, who lives in Harlan, may have the most creative book at this year event in Trampoline, an illustrated novel that contains wonderfully crafted prose and 220 comics-style drawings. It is a coming-of-age story set in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky.

David Arnold, a Lexington author, has garnered a lot of attention for Mosquitoland, a young adult novel. It is a story about a young girl who runs away from her dad and stepmother and embarks on a thousand-mile journey on a Greyhound bus.


Christopher Scotton’s debut novel, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, delves into events in a small, Eastern Kentucky town and how they affect a young man’s view of human cruelty and compassion.

New York Times best-selling author Sharon McCrumb will be there to sign her recent ballad novella, Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past.

Jason Mott’s The Wonder of All Things is an unforgettable story about a young girl with the unusual gift of healing others. Screen rights have been acquired for the novel and producers of the Harry Potter films have been hired to produce the movie.

‣ Lexington’s Marcia Thornton Jones, the headliner on Kids and Teens Day on Nov. 13, will have her latest novel, Woodford Brave.

And for some nonfiction:

Davis Miller’s Approaching Ali: A Reclamation in Three Acts is a look at Muhammad Ali’s life after boxing, told through the story of an unexpected friendship. Miller is an internationally best-selling author of two previous books. This book is being pre-released just for the book fair.

Bill Goodman, known for his work as host of “Kentucky Tonight” on KET, turns author with Beans, Biscuits, Family and Friends: Life Stories, a series of essays with a little something for everyone.

John Temple, a journalism professor at West Virginia University, has written an investigative book about the pill mills pipeline between Kentucky and Florida in American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Crew of Doctors Unleashed the Deadliest Drug Epidemic in U.S. History.


Al Smith Jr. will be back to sign his biographies as well as The Spider Election, for which he wrote the foreword. The book was written by H. Foster Pettit, who died unexpectedly late last year. It is about the controversial election of Pettit to mayor of Lexington and the formation of merged governments between Lexington and Fayette County in 1973.

Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer will be there with Sex, Celebrity and My Father’s Unsolved Murder, about Bob Crane, Robert’s dad, who played Colonel Hogan in the TV series “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Kathryn Canavan’s Lincoln’s Last Hours takes a magnifying glass to the final, tragic moments in the life of the nation’s 16th president.

In The Blue Box: Three Lives in Letters by Sallie Bingham connects the lives of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother from the discovery of saved documents in a blue box. She will also present “Weaving the Past into the Present: Family Documents Through the Fiction Writer’s Perspective” at the Thomas D. Clark History Center on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.

Tim Grove, who works at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, authored First Flight Around the World, a must-read for aviation enthusiasts.

Karen Cotton McDaniel, Gerald L. Smith and John A. Hardin edited The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, winner of the Thomas Clark Medallion for its contribution to Kentucky history and recipient of the 2015 Archives Month Certificate of Merit for Writing/Publication from the Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board.


Jim Gifford provides an interesting twist on biography writing with his book, Jesse Stuart: Immortal Kentuckian, a view of the beloved Kentucky educator and author as seen through the eyes of 16 individuals upon whom he had great influence.

‣ Kentucky novelists Robyn Peterman and Tonya Kappes will kick-off the book fair at the Paul Sawyier Library on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m., by discussing their journeys into the publishing world, what they write and their favorite foods.

That’s only a few of the selections available at this year’s Kentucky Book as the titles run the gamut from cooking to gardening to sports to everything in between. There also will be symposiums, readings and other activities associated with reading and writing throughout the day. And it’s all free.

Profits from the event are donated to mostly school and public libraries in Kentucky, which have few resources to expand collections, replace old books or fun literacy-related causes. To date, those contributions have exceeded $375,000,

This year’s fair is sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council.

From Kentucky Book Fair

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