Arts

2022 Portland Book Festival Author Highlights: Selma Blair, Kate Beaton, and (Of Course) Lidia Yuknavitch

"Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen" authors Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker will appear in conversation with Gregory Gourdet.
September 15, 2022
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Portland Book Festival logo with additional artwork by Jarlisa Shunte. (COURTESY OF PORTLAND BOOK FESTIVAL)

Originally published on our sister site, the Portland Mercury.

After two years of remote (in 2020) and partially remote (2021) programming, the 2022 Portland Book Festival will be presented entirely in person. Some of the workshops are remote, but the day of the festival—Saturday, November 5—will all unfold at venues on the Park Blocks, like Portland Art Museum, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and the Old Church among others.

On Wednesday, Literary Arts announced the authors for the festival at its downtown location, via a list read by the nonprofit's Director of Public Programs Amanda Bullock. The highlights and differences to PBF 2022 are as follows:


• Actor Selma Blair will appear in conversation with author Esmé Weijun Wang to discuss Blair's new memoir Mean Baby. This announcement caused Portland Monthly's Conner Reed to audibly choke for a moment, such was his surprise and delight. Tickets to the two Schnitz events—the other is Taylor Jenkins Reid in conversation with Cheryl Strayed—require an extra $5 ticket, but this year your ticket guarantees a seat.

• PBF 2022 will add a music stage this year, in collaboration with PDX Jazz.

• The authors of Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen, Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker, will appear in conversation with Portland chef and author Gregory Gourdet.

New York Times bestseller Leila Mottley will appear in support of her book Nightcrawling—Mottley is actually the youngest person to be picked for Oprah's Book Club.

Hark! A Vagrant author Kate Beaton will talk about her first memoir graphic novel, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

• Oregon Book Award winner April Henry will discuss her new work Two Truths and a Lie. "She can't be stopped. She can get out of handcuffs," Bullock said, noting that Henry had demonstrated this at a past convention.

• The PBF kid's stage will be increased, and parents are allowed to do the crafts.

Over 80 authors will appear at PBF 2022, and you can read the full list here. On a local level, we're especially excited to see hometown heroes like Lidia Yuknavitch (Thrust), Colin Meloy, (The Stars Did Wander Darkling), Cecily Wong (Kaleidoscope), Casey Parks (Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery), Jonathan Hill, (Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy), Jon Raymond (Denial), Chelsea Bieker (Heartbroke), and Matthew Dickman (Husbandry).

It's been eight years since local nonprofit Literary Arts took over Wordstock, rebranded it to the utterly unsearchable Portland Book Festival name, moved everything to the Portland Art Museum, and shrank the weekend fest to just one jam-packed day of author talks and book buying. The well-stewarded event is a highlight of Portland's art season, and the largest literary festival in the Pacific Northwest.

"Every year we continue to refine and improve the events," Bullock said, describing positive feedback Literary Arts received about the 2021 hybrid event, which purposely adjusted audience sizes to allow for distancing. This year, it sounds like they're moving back to cramming halls, but things like the guaranteed Schnitz seats will help with line management.

Bullock encouraged those seeking lighter crowds to attend the festival's Friday evening book market (a separate $15 ticket), which will also offer yet-unannounced special activities and signings. "If you know you're going to buy a lot of books," she said. "You can pick them up all up the night before, instead of lugging them around at the fest."


Portland Book Festival Add to a List takes place on Nov 5 at the Portland Art Museum and venues around the downtown Park Blocks, tickets here, $15-25 with a lot of add-ons; high school students and people 17 & under get in free. Attendees can expect a full schedule in early October.

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