The annual Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival usually takes place in October — and it will this year, as well. But get out your calendar, because it will also take place in September.
A hybrid plan of some virtual (and wow, the writers they have lined up!) and some in-person events (with strong COVID-19 safety protocols) means you can have writers in your living room starting this week and continuing for a month — and then writers, publishers and booksellers in person at the State Fairgrounds for one long day.
The full schedule is still being finalized, but here are some events to whet your appetite:
The kickoff event on Sept. 16 will be science writer Mary Roach in conversation with Erik ("Devil in the White City") Larson — they'll talk about Roach's new book, "Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law."
Roach's book is about the confluence of wild animals and humans — "from the terrifying to the frustrating," says the trade journal Kirkus in its starred review.
Like all of the Rain Taxi book festival events, the conversation between Roach and Larson is free, but you must register to get the Crowdcast link. Go here: https://twincitiesbookfestival.com/mary-roach/
• Nigerian-American writer Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström will discuss her debut novel "In Every Mirror She's Black" with Deesha Philyaw, author of "The Secret Lives of the Church Ladies," at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
• Tongo Eisen-Martin, the poet laureate of San Francisco, and Crystal Wilkinson, the poet laureate of Kentucky, in conversation with Twin Cities poet Michael Kleber-Diggs, 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23.
• Shruti Swamy discussing her story collection, "A House Is a Body," 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27.
• Marie Lu, in conversation with former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, discussing Lu's new young adult dystopian novel "Steelstriker," at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30.
• Kate DiCamillo and Sophie Blackall, in conversation with Ann Patchett. They will discuss DiCamillo's new novel, "The Beatryce Prophecy," which Blackall illustrated, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
You can register for any and all of these events at twincitiesbookfestival.com, with more to be announced.
The in-person part of the festival — including the annual book fair — will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16, in the Progress and Fine Arts buildings at the State Fairgrounds.
Attendees must either provide proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative COVID test. Masks are required (free masks will be provided).
The layout for the book fair and the display booths will be less jam-packed than in years past (which will not be as festive, but will certainly be safer) and there will be one-way routes through the aisles. They also promise hand sanitizers, outdoor food trucks and better ventilation.
The 2020 festival was virtual only, and the folks at Rain Taxi are billing this year's as a reunion, of sorts.
The festival "has always been about the connections people make through chance encounters," Rain Taxi executive director Eric Lorberer said in a news release. "We want to continue to offer these same strengths in a newly designed environment that is exciting, welcoming, comfortable and that addresses the pressing needs of our times. For those readers who share our vision of community and are able to attend, this will be a reunion to celebrate. Expect many an elbow bump!"
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.