Evanston Literary Festival to return for fourth year


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave. The store will partner with the Evanston Literary Festival for the fourth year.

Catherine Henderson, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Literary Festival will return for its fourth year with more than 30 events across the city, featuring authors such as Charles Johnson, Nadine Strossen and Daniel Kraus.

Festival co-organizers Lynn Haller and John Wilson partnered with literary institutions like Evanston Public Library, Bookends & Beginnings, Comix Revolution and the Northwestern Spring Writers’ Festival to organize the events. The festival will run from Saturday to May 20, and all of the programming is free.

“There was so much already going on (in Evanston) like the Spring Writers’ Festival which a lot of the residents didn’t know about,” Haller said. “So that was some of the impetus, realizing all the gems we have here that we wanted to spotlight.”

Haller said she and Wilson lived in Chicago and took over the Chicago Book Expo in 2013. When they moved to Evanston, they decided to create a similar program. The pair publicizes the festival and brings in some of the writers, Wilson said.

Community partners play a central role in organizing the events and recruiting participants, Haller said. The festival aims to support local literary businesses, she said.

Bookends & Beginnings owner Nina Barrett said her store was “born along with the literary festival,” and the two have been partnered for all four years.

Barrett said Evanston does a good job of recognizing visual, performance and musical arts, but sometimes the literary arts are left out. She said the festival helps bring visibility to the “vibrant” literary community by bringing together EPL, Bookends & Beginnings, Comix Revolution and other staples of the community.

“We thought that there was both the literary community in terms of a number of authors, but also readers,” Barrett said. “You need readers to have a literary community. … What community has more of that than Evanston?”

Rachel Webster, director of NU’s creative writing program, said the Northwestern Spring Writers’ Festival will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in partnership with the Evanston Literary Arts Festival. It will host novelist Alissa Nutting, essayist Angela Morales and poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

Webster said NU’s program had gone on for more than 10 years, but it has partnered with the literary festival for the past three years. The authors will present MFA-level classes for students during the day, and the evening will feature open discussions with the public, Webster said.

“It allows us to be a little more integrated with the community of Evanston,” Webster said. “Evanston is filled with writers and readers and people who are interested in literature, so for us to reach them through the festival, it feels like an incredible opportunity all around.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @caity_henderson