DALLAS — The Texas Book Festival announced Tuesday the lineup of more than 225 authors set to attend the upcoming event in Austin, including author James McBride, who will punctuate the discussion of his new book detailing the journey of a young slave in the 1850s with a selection of gospel songs he'll perform with his band.
"This music always inspires people to sing along," said McBride, whose book "The Good Lord Bird" was released last month.
The festival held in and around the Texas Capitol is set for Oct. 26-27. The event, which attracts about 40,000 attendees each year, will feature authors of everything from cookbooks, novels and non-fiction to children's books and memoirs.
"I want there to be something for everyone – any kind of reader. I would love for people who are hard and fast about the kind of authors they read be exposed to someone they haven't heard of – hadn't thought to read," said Steph Opitz, literary director for the festival.
McBride's book blends history and fiction to tell the tale of a young slave named Henry Shackleford who joins up with abolitionist John Brown, who believes Henry is a girl. Henry embarks on a journey with Brown that ends up at Brown's raid of Harper's Ferry in 1859.
McBride said the story is told in the voice of the fictional Henry, who at the age of 111 is reminiscing about his time with Brown as a boy.
"It's told in the voice of an old black man," said McBride, who also authored the best-selling memoir "The Color of Water."
McBride, a musician who sings and plays saxophone, said the performance of spiritual music reflects the character of Brown, a man who was "preaching all the time."
Opitz said the festival also will feature an array of debut novelists including: Lea Carpenter, author of "Eleven Days," which tells the story of a mother and her son, who has gone missing during a military mission; Manuel Gonzales, whose short story collection is titled "The Miniature Wife: and Other Stories"; and Justin St. Germain, who wrote a memoir of his mother's murder titled "Son of a Gun."
Opitz said author Meg Wolitzer's book "The Interestings," which follows the lives of a group of teens who meet at summer camp, inspired her to get on Facebook and track down her own friends from camp.
She said authors with nonfiction books include Reza Aslan, whose book "Zealot," details the life of Jesus, and A. Scott Berg, who has written a biography of President Woodrow Wilson titled "Wilson." The widow of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle, will talk about the upcoming memorial edition of her husband's book, "American Sniper."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas and authors are also featured who have written books on the topic, including journalist Hugh Aynesworth's "November 22, 1963: Witness to History" and "Dallas 1963," which details the climate in the city leading up to the assassination, by Steven L. Davis and Bill Minutaglio.
She said they also have two fiction novels about people living with chimpanzees: Colin McAdam's "A Beautiful Truth" and Karen Joy Fowler's "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves."
Opitz said the festival will also feature a discussion with Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell, authors of an upcoming book on Austin resident Lance Armstrong titled "Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France and the Greatest Sports Controversy Ever."
The Texas Book Festival was established in 1995 by Laura Bush when she was first lady of Texas. The first festival took place the next year.
Texas Book Festival, http://www.texasbookfestival.org