The Washington Post

Adam Mansbach at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Even if you don’t recognize Adam Mansbach‘s name, you’ve heard of his not-for-children’s book, “Go the F*** to Sleep,” which has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

But there’s a lot more to Mansbach than that hilariously obscene bestseller. He recently published a witty novel called “Rage Is Back” about New York graffiti artists. I talked with him about that book and his early love of hip-hop at the fourth annual Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 18. He was frank and insightful about the position of a white artist venturing into fields developed by African Americans:

Mansbach was one of more than 100 authors, poets and songwriters at yesterday’s festival on the grounds of the City Hall. The weather was cool and overcast, but a few sprinkles didn’t dampen the mood. About 18,000 people attended.

Among the many writers whom fans gathered to hear were novelist Jami Attenberg, author of “The Middlesteins“; historian Scott Berg, author of “38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End”; and YA author Walter Dean Myers, author of “Darius & Twig.”

The festival also offered an expanded selection of workshops for kids and adults — everything from “how to write a mystery” to “how to write a better college admissions essay.” And the winner of the festival’s high school student short story contest was announced: Rachel Page of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC.

One of the festival’s several partners, Politics & Prose, maintained a tent where fairgoers could buy books by festival authors.

This picniclike event is the special project of Gaithersburg Council Member Jud Ashman.

Twitter @RonCharles



Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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Washington Post · May 17, 2013