Singer Meghan Trainor, Oscar-winning actress Laura Dern, California Rep. Katie Porter and former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams are among the authors slated to appear at this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
On Wednesday, the Times revealed its lineup for the annual literary celebration, scheduled for April 22 and 23, featuring more than 500 writers, musicians and artists across USC’s 226-acre campus.
After last year’s return to a fully in-person festival after the pandemic forced such events to go virtual in 2020, organizer Ann Binney, deputy director of events at The Times, said this year’s festival would “seek to bring it even further back to normality and to make it even better than it was last year.”
To that end, the festival will feature its standard programming, with a variety of high-profile public figures and renowned authors headlining events, as well as new offerings, such as a partnership with Apple TV+, which will feature a screening of an episode of the new his mystery. Thriller series “The Last Thing He Told Me”, starring Jennifer Garner and based on the novel by Laura Dave.
Both Garner and Dave will be on hand to discuss the lineup and book the festival’s main stage.
As part of the Times’ “Ideas Exchange” series, Dern and her mother, actress Diane Ladd, will talk about their upcoming book, “Honey, Baby, Mine: A Mother and Daughter Talk Life, Death, Love (and Banana Pudding), a compilation of their conversations together.
Additionally, Grammy Award winner Trainor, who is expecting her second child this summer, will launch her debut book, “Dear Future Mama: A TMI Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood from Your Bestie.” Following a panel discussion, the “Made You Look” singer will be on hand to sign copies of the book.
Other notables set to join include pop icon Joan Baez, Broadway royalty Leslie Odom Jr. and Idina Menzel, singer-songwriter Margo Price and actress Judy Greer. Porter, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in California, will discuss her memoir, “I Swear: Politics Is Messier Than My Minivan.” Abrams will share her new semi-autobiographical children’s book, “Stacey’s Remarkable Books,” a sequel to her New York Times bestseller “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words.”
“She was a writer before a politician — a romance novelist,” Binney said, referring to the romantic suspense fiction Abrams wrote under her pen name, Selena Montgomery. (She most recently wrote a legal thriller, “While Justice Sleeps,” under her own name.) “She’s been in this world for a long time.”
Headlining the LA Times Book Club festival event is Gabrielle Zevin, who will discuss her bestselling novel, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.”
Other notable authors in the program include Roxane Gay, Adriana Trigiani, Walter Mosley, Jane Smiley, Anna Todd, Lois Lowry and Kate DiCamillo. Dozens of panels will also feature Rebecca Makkai, Dave Eggers, Jess Row, Andrew Sean Greer, TC Boyle, Susan Straight, Tess Gunty, Pico Iyer and Fatima Asghar, among many other literary writers.
Another stage will feature the Times’ ongoing Ask a Reporter series, in which reporters, editors, photographers and podcasters talk about their work and answer questions from readers. Staff scheduled to appear include Times executive editor Kevin Merida, as well as Laurie Ochoa, Samantha Melbourneweaver and Gustavo Arellano, who will host a live taping of the Times podcast series “Masters of Disasters.”
To kick off the festival, The Times will hold a ceremony to hand out Book Awards for twelve literary works. The Times will also award the Robert Kirsch Award, for a body of work focusing on the American West, to James Ellroy, best known for LA crime novels such as “LA Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia” – both part of LA Quartet’s best seller.
Ellroy has also written an investigative memoir, “My Dark Places,” as well as dozens of novels, many of which have been adapted into films, graphic novels and podcast. He will be joined by fellow crime writer Michael Connelly during the festival for a discussion of their work.
The Freedom to Read Foundation, recipient of the Times Innovator Award, will also participate in the festival. The nonprofit’s work includes protecting the public’s right to access information in libraries and helping to provide legal advice to librarians fighting to preserve their 1st Amendment rights.
A representative from the nonprofit will talk with PEN America and several young adult authors whose books have been banned in several states. Book bans in school districts across the US saw an unprecedented increase in 2022, according to a recent report by PEN America.
Their work “has always been important,” Binney said, “but it’s increasingly important when we’re talking about books and education.”
A further sample of the 550 participants is listed below:
Annette Chavez Macias
Father Greg Boyle
Holly Goldberg Sloan
J. Ryan Stradal
Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
Lan Samantha Chang
Lynn Steger Strong
María Amparo Escandón
Rabbi Naomi Levy
Robin Coste Lewis
The lady’s gang
Tracy Rose Peyton