Festival To Toast Literature

By C. Woodrow Irvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2007

The six-day Fall for the Book Festival begins Sunday afternoon at George Mason University's Fairfax campus. Dozens of published writers, including novelists, biographers, poets, historians and journalists, will appear over the course of the event.

The ninth annual festival, which promotes community interest in literature, will feature art and media exhibitions, family entertainment, readings, workshops, seminars, dance performances, a film screening and panel discussions. All events are free.

Ongoing exhibitions will include Found Magazine's display of lost, discarded or forgotten items such as love letters, lists, ticket stubs, snapshots and jottings. A photography exhibit by Jason Miccolo Johnson, "Soul Sanctuary: Images of the African American Worship Experience," and a video installation by the university's film and video studies students will also be on view.

Fall for the Book concludes Sept. 28 with the presentation of the Mason Award, for extraordinary contributions to bringing literature to the public. It will go to Jonathan Lethem, author of "Motherless Brooklyn," "The Fortress of Solitude" and "You Don't Love Me Yet."

Mitch Albom, author of the most successful U.S. hardcover first novel ("The Five People You Meet in Heaven") and the most successful memoir in U.S. publishing history ("Tuesdays With Morrie"), will be honored Tuesday with the Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts. The award takes into account Albom's career and his humanitarian work on behalf of disadvantaged people in his native Detroit.

William Miller, the festival's executive director, described the prizes, which include monetary awards, as "unique among literary prizes." In a news release, Miller said the awards "are among the few that also take into account the non-writerly aspects and the citizenship of a writer's life."

Other well-known writers set to appear at the festival include novelists Elizabeth Berg, Rita Mae Brown and Alice McDermott; poets Nikki Giovanni and Mark Strand; children's book author Richard Peck; and historians and biographers Rick Atkinson, Robert Dallek, Joseph Ellis and Walter Isaacson.

Co-sponsors of Fall for the Book include the City of Fairfax, the Fairfax Library Foundation, the Fairfax County public library system, the Virginia Historical Society and The Washington Post.

For information about the festival, call 703-993-3986 or visit http://www.fallforthebook.org.

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