Things to Do

Chimamanda Adichie and April Ryan Among Big Names at Maryland Book Festival

"Books in Bloom" will bring some famous authors to Columbia.
April Ryan, Chimamanda Adichie, and David Ebershoff will be headlining the festival.

In June, the city of Columbia, Maryland, is launching its inaugural book festival called “Books in Bloom” to fete the joy of books and reading. The event features acclaimed writers such as feminist thinker Chimamanda Adichie and journalist April Ryan.

“In celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary year, the Downtown Columbia Partnership wanted to host an event that captured the character of the community,” Michele Whelley, Director of the Downtown Columbia Partnership says in an email. “Howard County is well-educated, forward-thinking and diverse. The Books in Bloom author roster reflects the community’s love of learning and ideas.”

Michael Eric Dyson is an author, academic, and radio host as well as a professor of Sociology at Georgetown University.

Literary titans and enthusiasts alike will gather for the daylong event which includes readings, panel discussions, a poetry wall, and a pop-up bookstore by Politics & Prose. It will be hosted downtown at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in the brand new Chrysalis building on Sunday, June 11th. Best of all? It’s free!

“The festival includes panels that touch on race in America, feminism in Young Adult fiction, authors whose books explore what it means to be a trans person, and children’s authors who have written books about Malala Yousafzai and Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Whelley says.

Other authors of note include David Ebershoff, who penned The Danish Girl about artists Gerda and Einar Wegener. The story, which was recently adapted to a film, follows the couple as Einar navigates being trans and undergoes one of the first sex-change operations.

April Ryan (of recent meme and GIF fame following awkward interactions with Donald Trump and Sean Spicer in the White House press pool) and academic Michael Eric Dyson will have a conversation with civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. McKesson launched Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence.

Emerging Young Adult authors including Christina June will discuss feminism in YA lit, and your favorite local media personalities hailing from WAMU, NPR, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and the Baltimore Sun will talk about the titles they’re going to dive into this summer, their recommendations, and how they review books in the age of new media.

The festival is kid-friendly, and includes activities such as a craft table and story corner to keep ankle biters, er young readers, busy. There’s even a panel of children’s authors sure to get spark your child’s imagination and get them hooked on books.

The full roster of authors and speakers can be found here, and you can register for tickets here.

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Julie Strupp is an editorial fellow. Before Washingtonian, she did francophone video, radio, and photography projects addressing gender-based violence in Togo, West Africa with Peace Corps. She worked at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and AllAfrica and has contributed to Mic, Center for Public Integrity, DCist, and more. Now a proud Petworth-dweller, she’s also a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who loves judo, biking, art, and keeping the powerful accountable.