The Chestnut Hill Book Festival and Speaker Series presents its Fifth Annual Book Festival – an all day event – on Sunday, Sept. 22, and it will include readings by authors of various genres, book sales and signings, children’s events, panels and an improv staging.
Once again, the festival will showcase the rich and diverse literary talent of the Philadelphia area as well as provide an opportunity for readers to meet and chat with a variety of writers.
A highlight of this year’s event is a Chef’s Panel moderated by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Michael Klein, writer of Table Talk and The Insider. Klein knows the culinary playing field and will draw Kitchen Confidential-type tales and secrets from Chestnut Hill’s own Al Paris, of Heirloom and the recently opened Coastal Blue in Wildwood Crest, and two other chefs from the area. There are bound to be some hairy and hilarious escapades behind those kitchen swinging doors.
Pete Mazzaccaro, editor of the Chestnut Hill Local, will moderate a discussion with John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News columnist, and Al Hunter Jr., former music industry reporter for the Daily News to discuss the transition from news writing to book writing and other elements of the writing world.
Hunter also will speak about his book, “Thou Shalt Not Steal: the Baseball Life and Times of a Rifle-Armed Negro League Catcher,” about baseball and American history, love and loyalty, struggle and success, and Baer, who is always on top of Harrisburg’s shenanigans, will speak about his book, “On the Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting.”
The memoir form is of great interest to both readers and writers, and Beth Kephart, author of five memoirs and a history of the Schuylkill River, will share her expertise in this genre. Kephart also has written nonfiction, poetry and young adult fiction for adults and teens. Her new book, “Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir,” and her sage advice will be helpful to all with an interest in telling their stories or in understanding others.
Every year the festival can count on Temple University’s professors for talented, interesting fiction, and this year Don Lee, author of “The Collective,” and Lori L. Tharps, author of “Kinky Gazpacho,” will join us.
Some of Lee’s awards include finalist for the Thurber Prize, an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and a Mixed Media Watch Image Award for Outstanding Fiction. Tharps is also an award-winning author, journalist and speaker, and has several works of fiction under her belt after giving up a career in public relations.
A recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction and the Goldberg Prize, Daniel Torday’s book “The Sensualist” was described as masterful, fast and warm, fraught and intimate—and no slouch in the funny department.
Poet James Hoch’s “Night Crabbing” is the work of a gifted young poet for whom the lyric is both discovery and song with grave tones and graceful aptitude, and this from a former dishwasher, cook, dockworker, social worker and shepherd.
Hoch will describe his interesting journey and tell how it led to his much admired work as a poet.
Layer upon layer of history abounds in Philadelphia, and two authors who have carved out and detailed a special piece of this history – diverse in neighborhoods and ethnicity – are Joseph Minardi and Sabrina Vourvoulias. Minardi’s “Historic Architecture in Northwest Philadelphia” and Vourvoulias’ “200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia” are beautiful books with fabulous photography and informative text about two unique areas of the city.
Special events for kids (but not just for kids) include children’s author Daniel Kaye (“Never Underestimate a Hermit Crab”) and Philadelphia Stories workshops where kids can learn to write, Roller-coaster Stories with Philadelphia Stories Jr. editor Tara Smith, and Storytelling Through Cartoons with Karen Pokras Toz, award-winning author of the Nate Rocks series. These are hands-on workshops and may produce a little award winner in the process.
Always a popular Book Festival event is Chestnut Hill Improv, a quick witted, savvy trio comprised of Andrew Gilmore, Phyllis Gosfield and Joe McCann. The Book Festival welcomes them back again and acknowledges that together they represent 141 years of crafty repartee. Another special returnee, Philadelphia Stories, will also host an always-popular anywhere and everywhere Open Mic. After local authors discuss their writing world, the mic will be open to an imaginative and creative audience.
Again, the Book Festival is proud to be sponsored by Bowman Properties and supported by Musehouse, a Center for the Literary Arts; Chestnut Hill Hotel; Chestnut Grill; Chestnut Hill Business Association; the Chestnut Hill Community Association, and the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District.