With inspiration and support from the Austin-based Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Public Library Foundation launched the San Antonio Book Festival in 2013 with a mission to "unite readers and writers in a celebration of ideas, books, libraries and literary culture." Expanding on a format that attracted more than 10,000 visitors and camera crews from C-SPAN last year, SABF's third outing (10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11) will showcase 89 local, regional and national authors via free panels and presentations held between Central Library, the Southwest School of Art and the Empire Theatre.
For year three, the festival makes its first foray into film with the San Antonio premiere of Joe Nick Patoski's Doug Sahm documentary Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove (1 p.m., Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, 226 N. St. Mary's St.) and introduces the aspiring author competition Pitchapalooza (1:30 p.m., Coates Chapel, Southwest School of Art, 300 Augusta St.) while also bringing back the 2014 fan favorite "Literary Death Match." Said to marry "the literary and performative aspects of Def Poetry Jam, rapier-witted quips of American Idol's judging (without any meanness) and the ridiculousness and hilarity of Double Dare," LDM tasks authors with performing "their most electric writing" before an audience and panel of judges. The Alamo City's second stab at the competitive reading series pits Neal Pollack, Isabel Quintero, Lance Rubin and Natalia Sylvester in a literary ruse to be judged by Luis Alberto Urrea, Molly Cox and Wendi Aarons ($10-$50, 7 p.m., Charline McCombs Empire Theatre).
"The beautiful thing about a book festival that concentrates on books published within the past year is that the ideas are always new and that attendees have free access to the hottest ideas in our culture," SABF literary director Clay Smith told the San Antonio Current via email last week. "It's been a great year for fiction and I think you'll see that featured in the schedule."
While fiction factors into a number of panels and readings, it joins poetry, history, art, politics and the environment on SABF's diverse schedule. Given that a number of programs overlap, serious festival-goers should arrive with a plan in place. Not intending to put them on the spot, we asked Smith and SABF executive director Katy Flato to pinpoint a few panels they're excited about attending.
"No matter what I pick, I'll be leaving out dozens, Flato responded. "But because it is unique and exciting to have an author who was named one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business," I'll highlight Andrew Yang, who's book is Smart People Should Build Things and he'll be in conversation with another super-smart person, Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf (1:30 p.m., Central Library, 600 Soledad St.).
In Smith's words: "The 'Her Texas' panel shows the diversity and depth of women writing about Texas (11 a.m., Navarro Campus, Southwest School of Art, 1201 Navarro St.); the 'Boots on the Ground, Pens to Paper' panel is a reflection of a really vibrant new occurrence in publishing, which is novels being published by former soldiers who've served in Iraq or Afghanistan (3:30 p.m., Central Library); and one of the things I like about the 'Running (Out of) Water' panel is that we've got a water authority on that panel (Robert L. Gulley), but Kenna Lang Archer and Seamus McGraw are writing about [how] drought affects us in more emotional and psychological ways" (2:15 p.m., Central Library).
Panels and presentations aside, SABF offers plenty for those who'd rather play things by ear — including a literary marketplace with more than 50 vendors, a Central Market Cooking Tent, food trucks, live music, kid-friendly activities and a "Geektown" for young adults.