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Saturday in D.C.: The National Book Festival

September 24, 2010 |  8:35 am


It's supposed to be perfect book fair weather Saturday in Washington -- sunny, clear and with an occasional breeze. OK, it may be a little hot for those walking the National Mall, but there will be enormous tents for shelter -- that's where the readings and discussions of the National Book Festival take place.

Founded in 2001 by then-First Lady Laura Bush -- who also founded the Texas Book Festival when her husband was governor -- the National Book Festival is organized by the Library of Congress. Laura Bush will be speaking at the festival this year; her memoir, "Spoken from the Heart," was released in May.

Other authors scheduled to appear include bestsellers Scott Turow, Ken Follett, Suzanne "Hunger Games" Collins, Brad Meltzer and (pictured) Karin Slaughter; Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk; Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer; New Yorker editor David Remnick; and Newbery Medalist Rebecca Stead.

In addition to its literary offerings, the festival features a long, long "Pavilion of the States," where representatives from each state in the country -- plus D.C. and the territories -- highlight their prominent authors and books. Kids get maps stamped at each booth and, when I was there last year, stampede between them.

As with any robust literary festival, some readers will have to make hard choices. Skip poet Elizabeth Alexander to see Isabel Allende as things get started at 10 a.m.? Cut Allende short to catch Jonathan Franzen at 10:35 a.m., or bypass Franzen to see Laura Bush? With Elizabeth Kostava finishing at 12:05 p.m., Jane Smiley starting at noon and Chang-Rae Lee on at 1:30 p.m., will there be time to grab lunch? Who to see: Orhan Pamuk or Jonathan Safran Foer at 2 p.m.?

Let us know how it goes.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Mystery writer Karin Slaughter. Credit: Alison Rosa Photography