At the 21st annual Times Festival of Reading, many of the 41 books that will be presented by their authors turn on questions of justice.
In fiction and nonfiction, they address such issues as war, civil rights, politics and crime, bringing to life how they affect us as individuals and as a society.
For author Marcia Clark, justice is part of the job description. The former prosecutor's highest profile case was O.J. Simpson's murder trial; since then she has forged a career as a legal commentator on CNN and other outlets — and written three novels, the newest of which, Killer Ambition, she'll present at the festival. (See review, Page 7.)
Gilbert King won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawning of a New America. This gripping book brings to light a 1949 Florida case at the dark heart of American race relations.
The Times has its own Pulitzer to boast of this year. Times editor of editorials Tim Nickens and columnist Daniel Ruth will talk about winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.
David Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize winner for journalism and a MacArthur Fellow, will present his nonfiction book Thank You for Your Service. A sequel to his 2009 The Good Soldiers, the new book is a stunning, intimate look at veterans of the "surge" in Iraq after their return home.
Former Times staffer Vanessa Gezari's The Tender Soldier is the true story of the murder of an anthropologist working with the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
MacArthur Fellow and National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat will talk about Claire of the Sea Light, her moving novel about the inhabitants of a small town in Haiti whose lives are shaped and scarred by politics and poverty.
Novelist Jayne Anne Phillips, also a National Book Award finalist, based her chilling new book, Quiet Dell, on multiple murders that took place near her West Virginia hometown in the 1930s.
Bestselling crime fiction writer Ridley Pearson will present his latest thriller, Choke Point, second in his Risk Agent series. He's also the author of the popular series of Kingdom Keepers books for kids and co-author of the Starcatchers series.
Rick Yancey is another author who has written several bestselling series; he'll present The Final Descent, the fourth and final book in his award-winning Monstrumologist horror series for young adults.
Jamie Ford's bestselling first novel was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; his second, Songs of Willow Frost, is the story of a 12-year-old Chinese-American orphan trying to prove that his mother is still alive.
Mark Billingham has become one of Britain's bestselling crime fiction writers with his Tom Thorne books, also the basis for a TV series. He'll present the 11th novel about the London detective, The Dying Hours.
Novelist and Florida International University professor John Dufresne will talk about his mordantly funny foray into Florida crime fiction, No Regrets, Coyote.
Kent Wascom's powerful debut novel, The Blood of Heaven, is set on the violent frontier of West Florida in the early 1800s.
Tampa author Karen Brown's first novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, is about the repercussions of a young girl's disappearance in a Connecticut suburb.
Two Pinellas County residents will present crime novels: Edgar Award winner Lori Roy will talk about Until She Comes Home, and James Sheehan will discuss The Alligator Man.
Dunedin writer Claire Conner's memoir, Wrapped in the Flag, tells the memorable story of growing up with parents who were leaders of the John Birch Society.
Several authors at the festival will highlight the writing life. Novelist Nicholson Baker's Traveling Sprinkler is the tale of a poet struggling with songwriting and romance. Poynter Institute senior scholar Roy Peter Clark's latest user-friendly book of advice for writers is How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times. University of South Florida professor Philip Sipiora will talk about editing Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays by Norman Mailer.
As always, the festival will include a number of authors whose books focus on Florida. John Dos Passos Coggin's Walkin' Lawton is a biography of former Gov. Lawton Chiles. Bill DeYoung's Skyway recounts the history of Tampa Bay's iconic bridge. Lynn Waddell's Fringe Florida explores the dark underbelly of the Sunshine State, while Carlton Ward Jr.'s photography book Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition paints a portrait of the peninsula's natural spaces.
Several Times staffers will appear at the festival. Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg will talk about his latest book, Alligators in B-Flat, and reporter Stephanie Hayes will present her novel Obitchuary. Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans is departing for NPR, but he will present his book, Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.
Times book editor Colette Bancroft, visual arts critic Lennie Bennett, pop music critic Sean Daly and movie critic Steve Persall will discuss the joys and trials of their work.
Colette Bancroft can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435.