Celebrating the Written Word: 2024 New Orleans Book Festival Kicks Off with The Atlantic

Festival volunteer during a session at 2023 festival

March 10, 2024

New Orleans Book Festival Staff

Raising the bar, The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University launches its third annual fest on Thursday, March 14, in a unique collaboration with The Atlantic. Held on Tulane’s uptown campus, the festival is free and open to the public. 

Over 150 acclaimed authors and thought leaders, 90+ panels, book signings, a culinary symposium, Family Day festivities, and a closing musical celebration with Irma Thomas give this event its distinct New Orleans flair. 

“It’s an honor to host such a dynamic, diverse and accomplished group of local, regional and national best-selling authors at our 2024 festival,” said festival co-chair and Tulane professor Walter Isaacson. Fellow festival co-chair Cheryl Landrieu said, “We’ve been working diligently to curate a schedule that appeals to a wide range of tastes. Our festival lineup promises something for every book lover, regardless of age and we hope to ignite a love for reading in the hearts of all who attend.” 

Book Fest welcomes all on a first-come, first-seated basis. Registration is encouraged but not required for admission. Check out the complete 2024 festival schedule here and register here.

Thursday evening The Atlantic unveils an exciting editorial initiative focused on the greatest novels of the past 100 years. “The Atlantic Conversations” promises to be a captivating event, opening with A Conversation with Walter Isaacson and Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief. Immediately following is “The Great American Novels” with The Atlantic editors Ellen Cushing and Jane Kim and staff writers and authors Clint Smith and Jemele Hill. “Open Minds: Protecting the Freedom to Read and Learn” wraps up the evening with Jesmyn Ward, author and professor of English at Tulane, and Jemele Hill, contributing writer, The Atlantic, as moderator. The Atlantic is the official national media partner for this year’s festival. 

"The Atlantic Conversations" begin at 5 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium. Doors open at 4 p.m. 

A crossover day of programming with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) starts Thursday and continues with several NOEW co-branded sessions throughout the fest, spotlighting entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, the fest gets into full swing with renowned authors, journalists, politicians, and historians, including Stacey Abrams, Kwame Alexander, Ken Burns, Liz Cheney, Steve Gleason, Maggie Haberman, Sal Khan, Michael Lewis, Terry McMillan, Gen. David Petraeus, Jake Tapper, Amor Towles, and many others. The full lineup of authors is available here.

Tulane alumni, faculty and staff are among the best-selling authors at the fest, covering explorations of hip-hop music, New Orleans’ geography, children’s books, game development, natural disasters, epidemics, and the future of gene editing.

For the first time at the fest, a session will be presented in Spanish. In collaboration with the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, authors Yuri Herrera and Gabriela Alemán discuss Latin Americans in New Orleans in the 19th and 20th Centuries. 

Food and music, vital to any New Orleans festival, are well represented at the fest. Local musicians Tank Ball and Big Freedia, bring their stories to the stage. A conversation with the members of The Stooges, moderated by Tulane Visiting Lecturer Kyle DeCoste, Ph.D. is on Saturday afternoon. 

The popular culinary track brings together a distinguished lineup of chefs to discuss their New Orleans culinary family legacies, including Meg Bickford, Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, Ashley Hansen, and E. J. Lagasse, moderated by Kevin Belton. Toya Boudy and John Currence explore southern cuisine, and later Kimbal Musk delves into Innovation, Food and Community. 

Family Day is Saturday, March 16, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse. Highlights of Family Day include readings by national and local authors, as well as literary-themed activities for children and their families.

Children’s authors include Raymond Antrobus, Shannon Atwater, Alice Couvillion, Keila V. Dawson, Adam Dennis, Revan Jackson, Tiecha Keiffer, Leanne Boucher-Gill, K.A. Leigh Denise McConduit, Dr. Dionne Nichols-Condoll, Brenda Robért, Derek Roberts, Michael Strecker, Brittany Thurman, Gayle Webre and Tayla M. Young.

Scholastic author Tanisia Moore, creator of I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream, will sign copies of her book after her session. Author Tanya Wright hosts a screening of “Goodnight Hairiette,” a 24-minute puppet musical, and children receive a copy of the companion picture book. Scholastic hosts a free book giveaway, author signings and other activities. The 2024 Family Day author lineup is available here and the full schedule is here. 

The Living Library, in partnership with Tulane University Libraries, is a new feature. Volunteers serve as “living books” attendees can check out and interact with the “author’s” unique stories. 

And the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas, closes out the fest with a musical celebration on Saturday afternoon in the Hyatt Regency Festival Tent from 4:45-6 p.m.

Parking, transportation, accessibility details, free shuttles for Family Day and more details can be found at bookfest.tulane.edu

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