20 Years of Fall for the Book

by Suzy Rigdon, MFA '17

20 Years of Fall for the Book

Over the last two decades, Fall for the Book has grown from two dozen writers over two days, to four days packed with panels, readings, and performances featuring more than 150 writers at venues at George Mason University and around Northern Virginia. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, Fall for the Book is expanding in a number of ways, both on Mason’s campus and in the community. In 2018, the festival, planned for October 10-13, will continue to grow the connection with the City of Fairfax’s Fall Festival on our Saturday Community Day. By offering a series of interactive children’s events in Old Town Hall, a book fair at Mason featuring local publishers and literary magazines, and a diverse lineup of readings, this full day of events has a writer for every reader.

In spring 2018, Fall for the Book began a series of Pop-Up Lit Nights in the City of Fairfax as a way of extending its offerings year round. Each of the four events brought local writers and community members together for fun and dynamic evenings. Readers enjoyed a night of poetic and literary transformations; learned Appalachia’s Secret through theater, food, and trivia; crafted the next great young adult novel; and took a stroll through cinema history.

On April 6, Fall for the Book launched a new annual Spring Reading Series at Mason featuring buzzworthy emerging writers. Novelist Chloe Benjamin spoke about her New York Times bestselling novel The Immortalists, which follows the lives of four siblings after they learn the dates of their death from a fortune teller. Free for Mason students and Fairfax County Public Library cardholders, it was an evening that brought campus and community together.

The 2018 festival is also the inaugural year for the new Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award. The prize recognizes recently published works that illuminate the complexity of human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing.

In anticipation of awarding the prize, head judge and Mason English professor Helon Habila spoke about the importance of the award, saying, “If America is a country of immigrants as it is often described, then the quintessential American literature would be the literature of immigration.... Hopefully these new voices will make us step back and look at ourselves with new eyes, and new hope, and new meaning.” Habila will be joined by two other judges, novelists Maaza Mengiste and Madeleine Thien.

Fall for the Book will continue to pursue its goals of supporting writers at every stage of their careers, from every background, thanks to the generous support of sponsors, community members, and readers like you. Here’s to 20 more years!