Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spencertown Book Festival

Russell Banks, a wonderful author of interesting and often tragic books about the Northeast will be headlining an interesting literary week in the Columbia County village of Spencertown next month. Details below. Do yourself a treat, though, and read his novel "Rule of the Bone" even if you can't attend this event.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Mary Anne Lee, Spencertown Academy, 518-392-3693

SPENCERTOWN ACADEMY FESTIVAL OF BOOKS INCLUDES APPEARANCES BY MORE THAN A DOZEN ACCLAIMED AUTHORS

SPENCERTOWN, NY – This year's Festival of Books at Spencertown Academy Arts Center in Columbia County, NY, promises plenty to interest bibliophiles, with more than 10,000 books for purchase and appearances by more than a dozen acclaimed authors including Russell Banks and Mary Gordon.

During the first weekend of the Festival, the programming centers on the timely topic of immigration. On Saturday, Sept. 6, a panel of guest authors will explore the immigrant experience as revealed through personal memoir. Da Chen's candid memoirs explore his childhood growing up in communist China; Rutgers University professor Rigoberto Gonzalez wrote about his coming out and coming-of-age as a member of a Mexican migrant worker family in the United States; and documentary filmmaker Sadia Shepard wrote of her experience exploring the tiny Jewish community in India where her grandmother grew up.

On Sunday, Sept. 7, the discussion turns to the immigrant experience in post 9/11 America. Panelists include Ariel Sabar, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor and author of a forthcoming book exploring his family's roots in Kurdish Iraq; Margaret Talbot, a fellow at the New American Foundation and staff writer for The New Yorker; and Carl Strock, an editorial columnist for the Schenectady Gazette. Also on the panel is Steve Downes, an Albany attorney who worked with Albany ImamYassin Aref to publish his memoir, "Son of Mountains," detailing his journey from Kurdistan as a UN refugee to his imprisonment on terrorism charges.

The second weekend of the Festival brings a line-up of distinguished authors, beginning with the award-winning writers Russell Banks and Mary Gordon on Saturday, and an impressive line-up of local authors on Sunday including Shelia Weller, Rebecca Flowers, Elizabeth Hess, Julia Pomeroy, Alan Gelb, David Rubel and Lucia Nevai.

Both Saturday mornings will feature a children's book breakfast with appearances by everybody's favorite crimson canine, Clifford the Big Red Dog, plus children's book authors, story time and arts and crafts. The children's event begins at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5 and 12.

The festival will be held at Spencertown Academy over two weekends: September 5-7 and September 12-14. Admission to the Festival of Books, including all author readings, panel discussions, and children's events, is free. The opening night preview party on Friday, Sept. 5 from 6-8 p.m., featuring wine and hors d'oeuvres, costs $25; those who attend will have "first pick" of this year's book offerings. Tickets for the Harvest Dinner on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m., which honors the distinguished authors participating in the festival and features Columbia County local food, are $125.

Now in its third year, the Festival of Books has grown from a sale of donated, high-quality books (donated collections have included books on filmmaking and cinema and an entire library from a NYC estate) into a premiere literary event.

"In a few short years this event has grown into a significant regional literary festival, and it keeps getting better, as evidenced by this year's roster of acclaimed authors," said Mary Ann Lee, director of Spencertown Academy. "Many people are attracted by the size and quality of our book sale. Because this is a community of readers and book lovers, the Festival has a wide variety of top-notch offerings."

The Festival schedule: Preview Party Friday Sept. 5, 6-8 p.m.; $25 admission; Saturday, Sept. 6, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 7, 12-5 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 12, 9-5 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 13, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday, Sept.14, 12 – 5 p.m., all books half price.

Spencertown Academy is located on Route 203 in Spencertown, NY, about halfway between Route 22 and the Chatham/Spencertown exit on the Taconic Parkway. For more information and updated schedule, call 518-392-3692 or visit website www.spencertownacademy.org .







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