Amy Tan is this year's recipient of the Fairfax Prize at Fall for the Book 2011. (Rick Smolan/Against All Odds Productions)

To celebrate fall, books and the convergence of the two, George Mason University is hosting Fall for the Book 2011, a festival loaded with first-rate authors who will be speaking at venues throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia from Sunday through Sept. 23.

Tickets to Stephen King’s headlining talk are already reserved, but here are six other free events to “fall” for.

Jim Lehrer

Journalist Jim Lehrer discusses his new book, “Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, From Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain,” which delves into the backstory of some of the most contentious debates in history.

Darin Strauss

In “Half a Life,” Darin Strauss, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for memoir and autobiography, recounts his recovery from a car crash that killed one of his classmates. Strauss speaks about his experiences and writing the book.

Francine Prose

The acclaimed author’s latest book, “My New American Life,” is the story of an Albanian immigrant trying to navigate the unexpectedly complex political and cultural climates of post-9/11 America. Prose speaks about her book and the idea of looking at America from an outside perspective. This event is part of a series of Sept. 11-themed events at several venues.

Writing Africa Panel

Nigerian-born writers Helon Habila and E.C. Osondu, both of whom have won the Caine Prize for African Writing, join writer Susi Wyss for a reading.

Amy Tan

Each year, Fall for the Book awards one author the Fairfax Prize, for “writing and publishing literary works that contribute significantly to American and international culture.” This year’s award recipient is Chinese American author Amy Tan, whose best-selling novels include “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Bonesetter’s Daughter.” See the award presentation and listen to a conversation between Tan and GMU professor and NPR commentator Alan Cheuse.

Claudia Rankine

The prizes awarded at Fall for the Book have traditionally been geared toward fiction writers. This year, in conjunction with Busboys & Poets, the festival is giving a poetry prize. The first winner is Claudia Rankine, author of four poetry collections, including the recent “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.” She’ll also be at the Busboys & Poets in Hyattsville on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.