For Immediate Release

Caroline Hanna
[email protected]





Event, Marking its Fourth Year, will also Feature Award-Winning Authors

Jamel Brinkley, Brandon Hobson, Elizabeth Kolbert and Charles C. Mann

Newswise — (AMHERST, Mass., December 19, 2018)—Amherst College will host LitFest 2019, its fourth annual literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, on February 27-March 2. The event will feature readings, conversations and book signings with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jennifer Egan and Elizabeth Kolbert, renowned science writer Charles C. Mann, and 2018 National Book Award for Fiction finalists Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson, among others. The festival takes place on the Amherst College campus and is free and open to the public.

The festival builds literary community among students, faculty, staff and the public, and gives Amherst’s student body—widely recognized as one of the most globally, racially and socioeconomically diverse of any elite liberal arts college in the country—opportunities to engage directly with renowned authors from similarly diverse backgrounds and experiences whose perspectives and texts can inform and inspire their own. These role models and connections are an outgrowth of The Common's Literary Publishing Internship, which provides hands-on publishing experience for Amherst students year-round. 

Details about the main LitFest 2019 events are below, and the full festival schedule is available online at

National Book Awards on Campus: A Conversation with 2018 Fiction Finalists Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 7:30–9 p.m. As part of National Book Awards on Campus, a partnership between the National Book Foundation, Amherst College and its award-winning literary magazine, The Common, cultural critic Rebecca Carroll will host readings and a conversation with 2018 National Book Award for Fiction finalists Jamel Brinkley, nominated for A Lucky Man: Stories, and Brandon Hobson, nominated for Where the Dead Sit Talking. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with both authors.

Headline Event: An Evening with Jennifer Egan

Friday, March 1, 2019, 7:30–9 p.m. Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and, most recently, of Manhattan Beach, will give a reading, followed by a conversation hosted by Amherst College alumna and editor-in-chief of The Common, Jennifer Acker. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with Egan.

A Conversation with Science Writers Elizabeth Kolbert and Charles C. Mann

Saturday, March 2, 2019, 1–2:30 p.m.

Amherst College alumnus Cullen Murphy, editor-at-large of The Atlantic, will host a conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, and Amherst College alumnus Charles C. Mann, author of the award-winning The Wizard and the Prophet. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with both writers.

Additional LitFest 2019 events include conversations with author and cultural critic Rebecca Carroll and Amherst College Writer-in-Residence Shayla Lawson; a “Spoken Word Slam” for Amherst College students; and free public tours of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The festival is organized by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, The Common magazine and the Emily Dickinson Museum.

Since its inception in 2016, LitFest has brought to campus more than 20 renowned writers—including Mark Bowden, Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Masha Gessen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stacey Schiff and Zadie Smith—for public conversations and book signings, as well as intimate master classes with Amherst and Five College students. From the first year, the College and its award-winning literary magazine, The Common, partnered with the National Book Foundation’s National Book Awards (NBA) on Campus program, which brings NBA winners and finalists to colleges and universities. NBA authors who have participated in LitFest over its four years include Amherst College alumna Lauren Groff (nominated for Fates and Furies in 2016 and Florida in 2018), Angela Flournoy (The Turner House), Chris Bachelder (The Throwback Special), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties), and Min Jin Lee (Pachinko). LitFest has grown in popularity each year, with audiences doubling from 850 in 2016 to 1,700 in 2018.

In addition to welcoming prestigious writers to campus, LitFest aims to illuminate Amherst’s distinguished literary history and the tradition of creative writing at the College—from attracting remarkable faculty and alumni writers to collecting exceptional written material—as well as the extraordinary resources and opportunities available for current and prospective students, scholars and others. These opportunities include studying with renowned faculty and alumni authors; the College’s award-winning literary magazine, The Common, and its Literary Publishing Internship that teaches participating students editorial skills and the ins and outs of publishing; extensive holdings of manuscripts related to Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur and other authors and poets in College archives; and the College-owned Emily Dickinson Museum in downtown Amherst and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Read more at

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