Book fairs and author readings are commonplace in the Washington region. The area always ranks high among book-loving cities, giving each book festival success at drawing an audience and challenges at standing apart.
The Gaithersburg Book Festival has lined up all the usual award-winning fiction and nonfiction writers and a good sampling of local writers on their way up. This year it decided to also stack the May 19 events with a number of funny people.
“Last year we were heavy on literary fiction. This year we are heavy on comedy,” said Jud Ashman, founder of the festival, now in its third year. Ashman is also a member of the Gaithersburg City Council.
The number of writers/speakers has increased this year to 108, from 87. There’s a country fair atmosphere on the grounds of the Gaithersburg City Hall, with a children’s village, a coffee house and hours of panels, workshops and readings. One panel is “Writing the Next Hunger Games,” and that will be packed.
Alford, a Thurber prize winner, is the author of “Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?”
Thurston wrote “How to be Black,” and Lancaster, the anchor of a humor blog, wrote “Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office.”
The long list of local writers includes Melissa Foster of “Come Back to Me,” Cathy Knepper of “Jersey Justice,” E. Dee Monnen of “Jumping Over the Moon,” Adjeoda Tekpor of “The Chronicles of Stranger” and Dolly Yates of “Tales from the Teapot: Hidden Treasures Found in the History of Tea.”
The Washington Post’s own book critic Ron Charles will lead a conversation with award-winning author Stewart O’Nan, author of “The Odds: A Love Story.” Another colleague, Ian Shapira, will interview Chris Pavone, author of “The Expats.”