Our Picks for the Fifth Annual San Antonio Book Festival

Five years ago, the folks behind the San Antonio Public Library Foundation and the Texas Book Festival (which turns the grounds around the Texas capitol into a literary mecca every fall) decided to bring the show a little bit south. Which means that every year, at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art, San Antonio plays host to book fest lite, an SA version of the big-deal Austin event that, in its five year run, has managed to attract no shortage of prominent national and international scribes – all while boosting the profile of our local literary talent. Here’s a rundown of some of the writers, speakers, and panels we can’t wait to check out when the festival happens this Saturday, April 8. Visit saplf.org/festival for a full rundown of authors and panels. 

Julissa Arce
Political commentator, speaker, writer and former Goldman-Sachs executive Julissa Arce made a big splash when she revealed that she had also been something no one would have suspected: an undocumented immigrant. Arce moved to San Antonio from Mexico at age 11, later to attend Roosevelt High School before being accepted as a Finance student at the University of Texas at Austin. Equal parts ambitious and intelligent, Arce secured a coveted internship with international finance giant Goldman-Sachs while still at UT. The New York-based company offered her a full-time position upon her graduation in 2005. Just four years out of high school, Arce found herself climbing the ladder at one of the world’s most powerful companies. The fear of being discovered as an undocumented immigrant always haunted her, however, and eventually the work, even with all the money she was making, left her feeling empty. Now, Arce works with nonprofits and other organizations to advocate for immigrants and challenge our perceptions of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. Her 2016 book, My (Underground) American Dream, tells her story and elucidates her struggle. – James Courtney, 10am, San Antonio Public Library, West Terrace My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive

Jerry Thompson-Anderson
Terry Thompson-Anderson has found a winning formula. The professional chef, cookbook author, culinary instructor and restaurant consultant has gained fans with her beautifully shot and elegantly written books that cover all things Texas. From 2002’s Texas on the Plate to 2014’s Texas on the Table (where she showcased Texan ingredients and chefs, and was nominated as a James Beard Cookbook award finalist), Thompson-Anderson should be any young cook’s go-to for Texan cuisine. With Breakfast in Texas, she grabs readers by the flutes with her first chapter on breakfast and brunch libations. From there the book tackles migas (there’s a entire section on how to prepare eggs), kolaches and klobasnikis and more, while using local ingredients and Texas farmers. San Anto fans should note recipes from La Gloria, Tucker’s Kozy Korner and Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery. It’s the most Texan meal of the day, and there’s no better guide than Thompson-Anderson. – Jessica Elizarraras, 10am, San Antonio Public Library, Central Market Cooking Tent. Wake up to Breakfast in Texas with Terry Thompson-Anderson

Jessica Luther
Jessica Luther often tells interviewers she doesn’t really like to watch football anymore. As a reporter covering the intersection of college sports and sexual violence, it makes sense why. For her book Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the independent Texas journalist probed college rape scandals across the country for years in order to show the disturbing pattern in which media, college administrators and even fans too often look the other way when allegations of sexual violence hit a football program. She calls it the “playbook” – the predictable, toothless way people in power typically respond when athletes are accused of rape or assault. In fact, it was Luther’s reporting on the topic that played a critical role in blowing the Baylor University rape scandal wide open, making it a public, stomach-turning mess that officials are still struggling to adequatly address. As the Baylor scandal continues to inspire headlines, you couldn’t ask for a better speaker to help you understand the problem and its possible solutions. – Michael Barajas, 10am, San Antonio Public Library, Swartz Room Jessica Luther on the Baylor Football Rape Scandal, 2:30pm, Southwest School of Art, Coates Chapel The Future Is Female: Feminism for the Real World with Kelly Jensen, Jessica Luther, & Siobhan Vivan

Guadalupe García McCall
Guadalupe García McCall, who will be quite busy at this year’s San Antonio Book Festival, participating in three different panel discussions, is a San Antonio-based, Mexican-born teacher, poet and author of award winning young adult fiction. Her three novels Under the Mesquite (2011), Summer of Mariposas (2012) and Shame the Stars (2016) are all set in or around Eagle Pass, Texas where she spent her childhood. While perhaps a seemingly unremarkable detail, the settings and characters of these novels for young adults are important, because they allow young Mexican-American and [email protected] readers to identify with, and grow along with, characters and situations that are reflective of their own lived experiences. García McCall is, then, an activist and a champion of the highest order, helping Mexican-American youth to value their culture and understand that their stories and not only valid, but valuable. – JC, 11am, Southwest School of Art, Coates Chapel Stars and Blood: Retelling Shakespeare

1:15pm, Southwest School of Art, Coates Chapel Who Run the World? Girls! (And Other Worlds, Too)

3:45pm, Southwest School of Art, Coates Chapel Love Has No Borders (Um, Including Between Texas & Mexico)

Tim Z. Hernandez
Tim Z. Hernandez is a poet, writer, research scholar, performance artist and assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso’s bilingual MFA program in creative writing. His work combines a strong sense of advocacy for social justice with a penetrating imagination and an investigative reporter’s attention to detail. While Hernandez has published collections of poetry, works of fiction, essays and more, his talk at this year’s San Antonio Book Festival will be focused on the subjects of his first full length nonfiction work All They Will Call You, which was just released in January. The book, the end result of countless hours of extensive research and field work, is a masterfully composed account of a 1948 plane crash in California, once immortalized in Woody Guthrie’s song “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee),” that left 32 people dead, including 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported. Guthrie, and Hernandez after him, saw racism and injustice in the news reports that named only the dead Americans onboard and referred to the migrants simply as “deportees.” – JC 1pm, San Antonio Public Library, Auditorium Epic of Injustice: Remembering an American Tragedy

Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright has spent his career digging deep in some strange, fascinating corners of humanity. A torchbearer of Texas’ unique tradition of narrative nonfiction (which has birthed writers like Beverly Lowrey, Skip Hollandsworth, or the late, great Gary Cartwright), the longtime New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize winner most often navigates the muddy waters of belief. That’s meant exploring the world of Satanists, Scientologists, al Qaeda and pretty much everything else in between. Faith in something, anything, and how it unites and distinguishes groups of people is at the heart of Wright’s work. Since he’s right in our backyard, we’ve been lucky to have Wright at the SA Book Fest since it’s inaugural run in 2013. This year, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith will talk with Wright about his recent collection of essays, published near the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, titled The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State. – MB, 1:15pm, San Antonio Public Library, West Terrace The Terror Years: From al-Queda to the Islamic State with Lawrence Wright

Lesley Téllez
Lesley Téllez is a New York City-based journalist, culinary tour expert and Mexican cookbook author. Téllez runs the highlylauded culinary tour company Eat Mexico, which specializes in culinary walking tours that focus on street food, markets and local food history in Mexico City and Puebla. From 2009 to 2015, she authored the award-winning Mexican food and travel blog “The Mija Chronicles.” Her 2015 book, Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas, is an Amazon bestseller. Téllez’s talk at this year’s San Antonio Book Festival will center on her vast knowledge of Mexico’s rich culinary traditions and how those traditions, alive and thriving even in an ever-changing world, continue to inspire people to fall in love with Mexican food and culture. If the way to the heart is through the stomach, perhaps Téllez’s work can help win over the hearts of those who still envision literal and figurative walls separating Mexico and the United States. Now, wouldn’t that be delicious? JC, 2:30pm, San Antonio Public Library, Central Market Cooking Tent Eat Mexico with Lesley Téllez

Alexandra Zapruder
Yes, that Zapruder. In fact, for her third book, the writer and granddaughter of the man whose home movie captured the Kennedy assassination returns to her surname’s famous, troubling legacy. The project follows Zapruder’s first published work, Salvaged Pages, a stunning collection of diary entries penned by young writers during the Holocaust – some of whom were in hiding, passing as non-Jews or imprisoned in the ghettos. The project ultimately turned into a documentary she co-produced that earned her two Emmy nominations. Her latest book, Twenty-Six Seconds, digs into the story of her grandfather, Abraham Zapruder, who on November 22, 1963, left his office and perched himself on a high concrete parapet overlooking Dealy Plaza, hoping to take home a souvenir of the president’s swing through downtown Dallas. Instead, he’d become owner of an important, terrible piece of American history. MB, 3pm, San Antonio Public Library, Auditorium A Personal History of the Zapruder Film with Alexandra Zapruder

Martín Espada
A longtime professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Martín Espada, who also spent some time as a tenant lawyer, has published nearly 20 books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. Though Espada is an academic with a wide purview of influences and interests, his lifelong passion, inspired by his father, is in social justice, in shining light on the marginalized, and in the important work of giving voice to the voiceless. Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), one of Espada’s finest collections of poetry, received the American Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. His latest collection of poems, from which he will read at this year’s San Antonio Book Festival, is entitled Vivas to Those Who Have Failed. The timely collection, inspired in large part by his father’s work as an organizer and activist, finds Espada reclaiming historical movements that have been thought of as failures and addressing issues of police brutality, racism, immigration reform, labor struggles, and more. – JC, 4:15pm, San Antonio Public Library, Launch SA Vivas to Those Who Have Failed: Poems for Unknown Heroes

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