The Montclair Literary Festival will continue its adaptation to the coronavirus pandemic this year, offering a program that consists almost entirely of in-person events May 5 to 9. 

The festival was forced to go virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the resulting safety precautions. There were both in-person and online sessions last year.

The annual event is a fundraiser for Succeed2gether, which provides tutoring services and after-school enrichment programs for students in grades K-12. 

“We’re excited to share our complete lineup with over 30 book talks, panel discussions, children’s events and workshops, capped by a Meet the Authors celebration on May 7,” Marcia Marley, the festival’s chair, said. 

This year’s program includes 78 featured authors and moderators, four workshops and about 35 different events over the five days. 

Elizabeth Alexander will discuss “The Trayvon Generation” as one of the headliners for this year’s Succeed2gether Montclair Literary Festival. (COURTESY SUCCEED2GETHER)
Elizabeth Alexander will discuss “The Trayvon Generation” as one of the headliners for this year’s Succeed2gether Montclair Literary Festival. (COURTESY SUCCEED2GETHER)
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Katrina Browning, one of the festival organizers, said it took a long time to get the festival back to its more normal routine because of the pandemic disruptions. “It’s been a roller coaster,” Browning said. 

More than 7,500 people attended the festival in 2021, for both in-person and online events. Browning said that in the past, the festival might see as many as 3,000 in-person attendees in total, and she estimated that there may be around 2,000 such attendees this year, about double the number from last year. 

At past festivals, attendees said that they hadn’t been able to get to all of the events they wanted due to the number of venues and the distance between them. So for the in-person events, Browning said the organizers decided on a more compact layout, with most of the in-person events taking place within a short distance of each other. 

This year, with the exception of some events at Montclair State University, the festival will take place at First Congregational Church — either in the church sanctuary or in a tent on the church grounds — or on the grounds of the Montclair Public Library. 

Usually, the library would host several events indoors, but due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions it will host only a limited number of events, outside. 

The only two online events are a May 5 talk with Katherine Heiny, author of “Early Morning Riser,” and a May 9 Mother’s Day panel featuring mother-daughter cookbook authors Sophie Minchilli and Elizabeth Minchilli. 

Winslow, an international bestselling crime writer and political commentator, will be talking about his book, “City on Fire" at the Succeed2gether Literary Festival. (COURTESY SUCCEED2GETHER)
Winslow, an international bestselling crime writer and political commentator, will be talking about his book, “City on Fire" at the Succeed2gether Literary Festival. (COURTESY SUCCEED2GETHER)
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Admission is free to most of the events, except for three ticketed sessions, featuring Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Alexander and Don Winslow. 

  • Egan will discuss her newest book, “The Candy House,” in conversation with Garth Risk Hallberg.
  • Alexander will discuss her new book, “The Trayvon Generation,” with activist, author and scholar Salamisha Tillet.
  • Winslow will discuss his book “City on Fire” with CBS news correspondent Jim Axelrod. 

Other guest authors and moderators at the festival include Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Santlofer, Victoria Pratt, Kristen Henning, M. Christ Fabricant, Anna Quindlen, Gideon Rachman, D.T. Max and Tim O’Brien. 

The festival will also once again include Pitchapalooza, presented by the “Book Doctors”: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. 

On May 6, Montclair State University will host “Voices of Tomorrow,” a series of creative-writing readings from students at Montclair High School and Montclair Kimberley Academy. 

The library will host children’s book events on May 7 starting at 10 a.m., featuring Zibby Owens and Victoria Kann (“Princess Charming,” “Rubylicious”); storytellers and musicians Sabina Wasonga-Gitau and Samite Mulondo; Cat Min (“Shy Willow”); Chris Grabenstein (“Mr. Lemoncello’s Very First Game”) and Jason Patterson and Dan Abdo (“Barb the Last Berserker”). 

The organizers are continuing to watch the COVID-19 case numbers and will ask attendees to abide by social distancing guidelines, Browning said. 

For more information, the full program of events and ticket availability, visit succeed2gether.org/mlfmay22

This post has been updated to correctly state the name of Egan's book, "The Candy House."

Egan, author of the Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad” and “Manhattan Beach,” will be in conversation about her new novel, “The Candy House,” on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m.
Egan, author of the Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad” and “Manhattan Beach,” will be in conversation about her new novel, “The Candy House,” on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m.
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