The sheer size of the first Mississippi Book Festival — 103 authors, 22 panel discussions and 3,700 people attending — surprised a lot of folks last year.

This year’s literary lawn party will be even bigger. More than 150 authors; 32 panel discussions; book readings and signings; exhibits on the written word; and the requisite festival food and music will be on the grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol and in the Capitol itself, Galloway United Methodist Church and The Foundry at Galloway from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The festival is free and open to the public.

“Our primary goal is to highlight and publicize Mississippi authors,” said Jere Nash, a member of the Mississippi Book Festival board of directors. “We look for regional and national authors who have written books that will appeal to Mississippi readers as well.”

Authors such as Jesmyn Ward, Jon Meacham, Ralph Eubanks, Brad Watson, Martha Wyatt-Rossignol, Roy Blount Jr. and Barbara Gauntt will be featured on panels discussing topics ranging from Southern fiction, poetry and cooking to civil rights history, the presidential year, Willie Morris and Mississippi Noir.

Exclusive conversations with Kate DiCamillo, Jacqueline Woodson, Richard Ford and Anne Webster will allow each author to interact with audiences.

“If there’s a group of authors who are from Mississippi or have written about Mississippi, then I think we’ve got them covered,” said Nash.

The festival will include guided tours inside the Capitol every 30 minutes beginning at 11 a.m. Exhibits from the Library of Congress, Center for the Book and Talking Books, Smithsonian Learning Lab, 3-D Printer Experience, Mississippi Digital Library and State Reading Fair Winners also will be in the Capitol.

For a full list of panels and authors visit

Looking for a good book? Check out these suggestions from authors who will appear at the Mississippi Book Festival.

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Ashley F. G. Norwood, a native of Jackson, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University and a master’s degree from the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. Norwood, who specializes in multimedia journalism, has been recognized nationally for her documentary film the fly in the buttermilk, which covers the history, perceptions and principles of black Greek-lettered organizations at the University of Mississippi.