Lit Fest Sweet 16: Literary Luminaries, Chefs’ Specials, Music and More


Notable authors, including Pulitzer Prize and James Beard Award winners, television producers, artists, and one of the Little Rock Nine are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) sixteenth annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 25-28, 2019. Events will be held at CALS Library Square and many other Little Rock venues. Most events are free and open to the public. The full list of authors is available at

The premier gathering of readers and writers in the state, the Arkansas Literary Festival offers a mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops, book signings, and opportunities to meet authors. More than 60 authors, illustrators, and musicians—who have achieved national and international acclaim—will discuss young adult and children’s books; genres such as thriller, poetry, memoir and biography; and topics including women’s history, mental health, religion, politics, and social justice.


Festival attendees can learn about cooking and life lessons with Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World; Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie; and Jeff Henderson, If You Can See It You Can Be It. Revisit a pivotal moment in Arkansas and national history with Elizabeth Eckford, The Worst First Day. Explore mental health with Esmé Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias. Delve into community and politics with In the Midst of the City: The Gospel and God’s Politics by Barkley Thompson, dean of historic Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. Travel to the future while analyzing race and identity in the present with Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s We Cast a Shadow. And get in the spy game with Double Exposure by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the pair who created the CW network series Smallville and are currently the show runners of the AMC show Into the Badlands.


Special events include, but are not limited to:

Author! Author!, Friday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.

A cocktail reception with the authors. Tickets are $25 in advance and $40 at the door. Special rates are available for students and groups. Tickets will be available at beginning March 15.

Four Quarter Guitar, Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m.

Loosely inspired by Ian S. Port’s The Birth of Loud about the “guitar-pioneering rivalry that shaped rock ‘n’ roll,” Isaac Alexander and Joshua Asante each take the stage, guitar in hand, followed by a mighty set featuring singer/songwriter Bonnie Montgomery and her guitarist. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Maker’s Alley, Saturday, April 27, 11:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

The Fest will “take it outdoors” this year with a curated maker’s fair at Library Square featuring Electric Ghost, Control, MilkDadd, Bangup Betty, Crying Weasel Vintage, Sean Sapp, Matthew Castellano of Gallery 360, Dower (Jack Lloyd), Luna Tick Designs and more. Music by DOT and Dazz & Brie from 5:00-6:30 p.m.


Festival sessions for children will take place in Youth Services and Level 4 at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street, and at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 W. 10th Street. Events at Children’s Library are hosted in partnership with the Junior League of Little Rock/Little Readers Rock.

In addition to programming at CALS locations, the Festival will also provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski County elementary, middle, and senior high schools, and for area colleges through the Writers in the Schools (WITS) initiative.


This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, James Beard Award, the American Book Award, NAACP Image Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Lannan Foundation Literary Award, Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the O. Henry Award. Presenters have also received fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, McDowell Colony, Yaddo, Stanford University (Stegner Fellowship), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the Whiting Foundation, TED, the Lannan Foundation, Katherine Prichard Writers Center, New York Foundation for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, and Arkansas Arts Council.

The work of this year’s Festival authors has been featured in notable publications including:

The New Yorker
New York Times
The New York Times Book Review
Paris Review
Rolling Stone
Village Voice
San Francisco Weekly
The Believer
Garden & Gun
Good Housekeeping
The Best American Short Stories
The Best American Poetry
The Washington Post
The Los Angeles Times
TIME Magazine
Psychology Today
Architectural Digest
Bon Appetit
Popular Mechanics
Texas Monthly
Tin House
The Rumpus
The New Republic
Oxford American


Support for the Arkansas Literary Festival is provided by the following sponsors and partners: Jr. League of Little Rock/Little Readers Rock; National Book Foundation; Arkansas Humanities Council; Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Department of Arkansas Heritage; Rebsamen Fund; Pro Smart Printing; KUAR 89.3 FM; WordsWorth Books; UA Little Rock Department of English; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP; Clinton Presidential Center; Museum of Discovery; Capital Hotel; Oxford American; Franklin Community Health Complex; University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service; Esse Purse Museum & Store; McMath Woods PA; Meadors, Adams & Lee; Hank Bates/Barbara Miles; Et Alia Press; Christ Episcopal Church; Arkansas Times; Mick Wiggins; Literacy Action of Central Arkansas; Hampton Inn Downtown Little Rock; At Home in Arkansas; Argenta Reading Series; Sibling Rivalry Press; St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Pyramid Books/Hearne Fine Arts; The Root Café; Eggshells Kitchen Co.; Terry Elementary; Mabelvale Elementary; Dunbar Middle School; Carver Elementary; Four Quarter Bar; North Little Rock High School; Mollie Savage Memorial; Danielle Butler; Stella Cameron; and Bob Razer.


About the Arkansas Literary Festival

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System. The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival: Jennifer White, WITS chair; Amy Bradley-Hole, moderator chair; Maker’s Alley & Music chairs Phillip Huddleston, Larnie Campbell, and Grace Lytle; Melissa Woods, festival guides chair; festival guides vice chairs El-Noor Akhter and Betsy Johnson. Talent committee: Eliza Borne, Amy Bradley-Hole, Kevin Brockmeier, Garbo Hearne, Phillip Huddleston, Janis Kearney, Brad Minnick, Susan Santa Cruz, and Dorian Stuber.

Visit for the full schedule of events. For more information about the 2019 Arkansas Literary Festival, contact Brad Mooy at or 918-3098. For information about volunteering at the Festival, contact Polly Deems at or 918-3095