Chicago Humanities Festival releases fall schedule

  • Pin It
Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed is just one of more than 35 authors with an event this fall at the Chicago Humanities Festival. (Reg Regalado, Chicago Tribune)

Click "I'm a Book Nerd. What's for me?" on the website of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and 36 programs from the schedule for autumn 2014 fill the screen.

That's about one-third of all the events in the annual culture confab, making the festival easily the highlight of the second half of the year for the city's book lovers.

These are the big-name novelists who will be featured in the festival, which runs from Oct. 25 to Nov. 9 and takes place in Evanston, Hyde Park and Chicago: Gary Shteyngart, Jamaica Kincaid, Aleksandar Hemon, Jesmyn Ward, Martin Amis, Colm Toibin, William Gibson, Marjane Satrapi and Anne Rice.

But the festival's broad, 2014 theme, "Journeys," also allows room for essayists (Leslie Jamison, "The Empathy Exam"), nonfiction writers (Cheryl Strayed, "Wild"), poets (Eileen Myles), rockers-turned-poets (The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, who'll talk with public radio host Peter Sagal about his book of verse celebrating the two-letter words that Scrabble allows) and rockers-turned-autobiographers (Patti Smith, winning the 2014 Chicago Tribune Literary Award).

Dead authors get their due, too. One program will talk about Zora Neale Hurston's work as an anthropologist in the Caribbean and the U.S. south. Another will celebrate the 100th birthday of William S. Burroughs. And, of course, the granddaddy of all deceased writers, Shakespeare, will be featured as University of Pennsylvania professor Zachary Lesser discusses his work on multiple versions of "Hamlet."

Even newspaper writers get to play in this sandbox, especially if they are associated with the New York Times. Speaking in separate events are Times columnists Charles Blow and David Brooks and the newspaper's "Modern Love" editor, Daniel Jones.

Yet even with all of the names above, the list here is in no way comprehensive. Check the festival website, chicagohumanities.org, for more speakers; more events that treat, in one way or another, the printed word; and further detail on what people will be talking about.

And remember that some 25 to 30 percent of festival events sell out. Tickets, ranging from $10 to $50, go on sale to festival members Sept. 2 and to the general public Sept. 8.

Steve Johnson is a Tribune features reporter.

  • Pin It

Local & National Video