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Photo: San Antonio Express News.
The San Antonio Book Festival was initially canceled amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: San Antonio Express News.

San Antonio Book Festival to be held virtually in April

Up to 200 authors, including Sandra Cisneros, will be present April 9-11 at the SABF after reviving the festival. 

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A month after announcing its program for 2021, the popular San Antonio Book Festival (SABF), which attracts 20,000 visitors a year to downtown Texas, decided to cancel it due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision provoked a wave of disappointment, but on Tuesday, March 9, a virtual edition was unveiled, and will be held from April 9 to 11 with free events and many more surprises that represent an opportunity to expand the scope of the event for its organizers. 

"We can't wait to be able to meet in person again, but we are very excited to be able to bring writers even closer to readers and to be able to attract a wider audience with this platform," said the festival's literary director, Clay Smith.

Lilly González, the event's executive director, said she was pleased that "art continues to thrive," even if it is "through our computer screens." This, on the other hand, gives the SABF greater flexibility and allows it to grow the guest list from 100 to 200, in addition to a large number of online events. 

Among them, is the presence of writer Sandra Cisneros, who is leading a program featuring four emerging authors: Diana Marie Delgado, John Olivares Espinoza, Joe Jimenez and Christine Granados.

Friday Night Lights journalist and writer Buzz Bissinger will also be in attendance to review his classic on soccer and high school with photographer Robert Clark. 

A note of humor and irreverence will be provided by comedians Catherine Cohen, Emily V. Gordon and Samantha Irby who, moderated by HBO producer Amy Solomon, will discuss new book Notes from the Bathroom Line: A Conversation with the Funniest Women in Comedy.

Other program sessions will include local scholar Norma E. Cantú leading a panel with Kathy Sosa, Ellen Riojas Clark and Cynthia E. Orozco and her book Revolutionary Women of Texas and Mexico, published by Trinity University Press. Also, Maurice Chammah will speak about his Texas-centered debut book, Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty, and young adult authors Nic Stone and J. Elle will be in conversation about their works Dear Justyce and Wings of Ebony.

Perhaps one of the biggest new features of this virtual edition is that local bookstore Nowhere Bookshop will now be the official bookstore of the festival. 

Among the festival's most outstanding authors, is National Best Fiction Book Award winner Charles Yu with his book Interior Chinatown, journalist Paola Ramos, author of Finding Latinx and Mexican-American writer and investigative journalist Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels. 

Discover the more than 200 invited authors, as well as the panels and events organized on the SABF website: www.sabookfestival.org.

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