Author Sandra Cisneros. (Courtesy of Knopf)

Book festival season is months away, but it’s already heating up in Washington.

Organizers for Fall for the Book, based at George Mason University, have just revealed some of the big names and prize winners who will be at the festival, which runs Sept. 25 to 30. All events during Fall for the Book, in its 18th year, are free and open to the public.

Any book lover will find one — or 20 — favorite writers among the more than 150 expected to appear this fall. Among them will be Lauren Groff, author of the novel “Fates and Furies,” which was chosen by The Washington Post as one of the top books of 2015. (President Obama named “Fates and Furies” as his favorite book of 2015, too.) Groff will speak at the festival on Sept. 27.

James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, will speak on Sept. 28. And fantasy writer Patricia Briggs will offer a reading on Sept. 29.

Among the writers who will accept prizes at the festival is Sandra Cisneros, author of the classic novel “The House on Mango Street.” She has been named winner of the festival’s annual Fairfax Prize, which honors an exceptional writer who has made a significant “contribution to the larger literary landscape.” Cisneros’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages and is widely used in schools. Her most recent book is “A House of My Own: Stories From My Life,” and last year, her story “Puro Amor” was published in the Washington Post Magazine’s fiction issue. Cisneros will speak at the festival on Sept. 30.


Washington’s own Diane Rehm will be at Fall for the Book to accept the Mason Award on Sept. 25. The award, sponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation, recognizes an author who has “connected literature to the wide reading public.” WAMU’s “Diane Rehm Show,” which frequently features authors and book discussions, reaches 2.5 million listeners a week. In a statement released Tuesday, William Miller, executive director of Fall for the Book, said, “In the midst of everything else going on in the world, Diane Rehm keeps a place dedicated to literature in the show each week.” The legendary radio talk show host recently published a memoir, “On My Own,” which describes her husband’s death from Parkinson’s disease. Rehm has said she plans to retire after the presidential election in November and devote her time to advocating for the right-to-die movement.

Jon Mooallem’s book “Wild Ones” has been chosen for special treatment by Fall for the Book and George Mason University. This summer, all incoming freshmen will receive a copy of his book, which describes the extraordinary steps people have taken to save endangered animals. Mooallem will talk to students and other festivalgoers on Sept. 27.

The full festival schedule — which covers locations in Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. — is complex, so check out the guide as it’s updated at

Ron Charles is the editor of Book World.

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Author Lauren Groff. (Megan Brown)

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