In this era of political division, the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival couldn’t come at a better time. For one day, at least, we’ll all be unified by our love of great books.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, tens of thousands of eager readers will fill the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to hear more than 120 of their favorite authors. Presided over by the newly sworn-in Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, the 16th annual festival is all free, fun and fantastic.

The Washington Post is a charter sponsor of the festival, and this special issue of Book World contains everything you need to plan your visit — and with all the riches on offer, a little planning is a good idea. The convention doors open at 8:30 a.m., and the activities run until 10 p.m. (Please note that all guests will be subject to bag searches — only one bag per guest — so leave plenty of time for this year’s extra security measures.) You can’t bring in food, but you’ll find plenty of food vendors in the Convention Center and restaurants nearby.

No matter what your interests — fiction, science, food, history or politics — you’re in for a booklover’s paradise. And with lots of special activities for children and teens, this is truly a festival for the whole family.

— Ron Charles, Editor

Book World

Address: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC 20001

Metro: Yellow/Green line: Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center

All information is as of Sept. 15. For updates, go to

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Marvin Joseph)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The basketball legend and author will be in conversation with Kevin Merida, editor in chief of ESPN’s “The Undefeated.” Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA most valuable player, has just published “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.” Discussion , 12:30-1:30. Signing at 2.

Shonda Rhimes
The TV producer and writer of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” will talk about her book “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person.” She will be in conversation with David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group and co-chairman of the National Book Festival. Discussion, 2-3.

Salman Rushdie
The author of such works as “Midnight’s Children, ” “The Satanic Verses ” and, most recently, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights ” will discuss his books and writing life with Bilal Qureshi from NPR. Discussion, 7-8. S igning at 5:30.

Rep. John Lewis
The congressman, civil rights activist and author will talk about his graphic memoir series “ March.” Lewis and co-author Andrew Aydin will be in conversation with Michael Cavna, creator of the “Comic Riffs” column for The Washington Post. Discussion, 5:10-5:50. Signing at 6:30.

Winston Groom and Colson Whitehead
Forrest Gump” author Winston Groom, whose new book is the Western saga “El Paso,” and Colson Whitehead, author most recently of “Underground Railroad,” will discuss historical fiction with Audie Cornish from NPR. Discussion, 11:40-12:30. Both authors signing at 1:30.

Marilynne Robinson (Alec Soth/Magnum Photos)

Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction : Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson will receive the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction and discuss her career with Marie Arana from the Library of Congress. Robinson is the author of four novels, including “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005. Her most recent novel is “Lila.” Award and discussion, 10-10:40. Signing at 11:30.

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf will discuss Thomas Jefferson in a panel moderated by Melissa Block from NPR. Gordon-Reed, a professor at Harvard, received a Pulitzer Prize for “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” Onuf is a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and a co-host of the radio show “BackStory With the American History Guys.” Gordon-Reed and he wrote “ ‘Most Blessed of the Patriarchs’: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination.” Discussion, 7-7:45. Both authors signing at 5.

Mary Roach ’s books include “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” and her latest, “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.” She will be in conversation with Tim Smith from The Washington Post Book World. Discussion, 1-1:45. Signing at 2:30.

Italian Kitchen: Alessandro Frassica and Victor Hazan Panel
Alessandro Frassica presents “Veggie Pan’ino” and Victor Hazan presents “Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market” in a panel discussion on the Italian kitchen with Guy Lamolinara, co-director of the National Book Festival and communications officer for the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Discussion, 5-5:45. Both authors signing at 2:30.

Two politicians talk fiction: Newt Gingrich and Steve Israel
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and current Rep. Steve Israel will discuss writing fiction with a political background in a conversation with Colleen Shogan of the Library of Congress. Gingrich’s new thriller is “Treason.” Israel’s new novel is “The Global War on Morris.” Discussion, 1:30-2:20. Both authors signing at 3:30.

Take the family
An array of children’s events will take place on the lower level of the Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be story times, face painting and crafts, and families can meet Maisy Mouse, watch a Little Free Library being built and visit the Pavilion of the States to learn about the literary heritage of each state. Among the popular children’s and young-adult authors giving presentations on stages throughout the day are Hervé Tullet, Kwame Alexander and Lois Lowry.

Youth Poetry Slam
Champion delegates from some of the nation’s top youth slam groups will compete to be named top youth slammer by performing new works on books and reading. 7:30-9

Where to buy books
On the expo floor, Politics & Prose Bookstore will be selling books (including some pre-signed editions) by festival authors.