AViD 2023 is bringing authors to Des Moines, including R.F. Kuang and Emily St. John Mandel

AViD reading: R.F. Kuang

April 13, 7 p.m., Des Moines Central Library, Free

Author R.F. Kuang – Courtesy of AViD

The Des Moines Book Festival is over, but even more authors are headed to Iowa in the coming weeks as part of Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD). The first of these visitors will be New York Times bestselling author R.F. Kuang, who is scheduled to speak at the Central Library in Des Moines on Thursday.

“Last year we had, if not the highest turn out, probably the close to it,” said Tim Paluch, the marketing and communications supervisor at Des Moines Public Library, which organizes AViD. “We have a lot to live up to.”

AViD has been an annual event since 2001, which reached a new level of popularity in recent years, according to Paluch.

Last year AViD’s lineup included bestselling writers Brad Meltzer (Escape Artist), Angeline Boulley (Firekeeper’s Daughter) and Jason Mott (Hell of a Book). This year’s event features the authors of such popular books as Station Eleven and The Poppy War trilogy.

Here’s a preview of who AViD is bringing to Des Moines in coming weeks.

R.F. Kuang

The book you might know: The Poppy War

Forthcoming book: Yellowface

Kuang, the author of The Poppy War trilogy, published her latest novel, Babel, last year, but already has another book ready to hit the shelves just weeks after her Des Moines appearance.

“R.F. Kuang is a phenomenal talent and she’s got another book coming out this year with book of the year buzz,” Paluch said.

That upcoming book is Yellowface, a novel about a writer who claims to have written a book by another author, and falsely claims to be Asian American. Described as darkly comedic, it’s a story of stolen manuscripts and identities. Yellowface is scheduled to release on May 16.

Kuang will be appearing at Central Library at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13.

J. Ryan Stradal

The book you might know: The Lager Queen of Minnesota

Latest book: Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

Born and raised just north of Iowa in the Land of 10,000 lakes, Stradal is making his way back to the Midwest for this Des Moines event.

“He’s a real fun guy, his books are pretty light-hearted, they are very female focused,” said Paluch. “He’s from Minnesota, he has a good relationship in Des Moines he’s worked with Beaverdale [Books] in the past.”

His 2019 novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota appeared on “best of” lists of NPR and USA Today. His latest novel Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club is set to release on April 18.

In this latest novel, Stradal writes about restaurant owner Mariel Prager whose business is bleeding money, whose husband is having an identity crisis and whose mother has been holed up in a church for at least a week. When tragedy strikes it’s unclear if the family and the restaurant can both survive.

Stradal will appear at Central Library at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 1.

Author Emily St. John Mandel – Courtesy of AViD

Emily St. John Mandel

The book you might know: Station Eleven

Latest book: Sea of Tranquility

Even if you haven’t heard of Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of her hit novel Station Eleven. The science fiction story about pandemic was published in 2014 and adapted into an HBO miniseries in 2021.

Mandel’s latest sci-fi novel, Sea of Tranquility, released last year, also touches on a pandemic. But this story brings in elements of metaphysics and time travel.

Appearing just over a week after Stradal’s showing, Mandel will be at Central Library at 7 p.m. on May 10.

Jack Carr

The book you probably know: The Terminal List

Forthcoming book: Only the Dead

Jack Carr is a thriller author, a former Navy SEAL, a podcaster and is the next author in AViD’s 2023 line-up.

“Jack Carr checks out tons of books [according to Des Moines Public Library numbers],” Paluch said. “We don’t have authors that write with that military thriller mindset. That’s been a huge blind spot for AViD in the past and it’s his first time in Des Moines.”

With five books to his name already, Carr’s sixth, Only The Dead, will hit shelves the week before his central Iowa stop. In it, Carr’s recurrent protagonist, James Reese, faces down a global conspiracy that pushes the world to the brink of war.

Carr will appear at Central Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday,May 24.

Paul Kix

The book you might know: The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando

Forthcoming book: You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live

Paul Kix, a nonfiction writer and journalist, and a native of the central Iowa town of Hubbard, is the sole Iowan in this year’s line-up.

Compared to the other authors, Kix is still relatively early in his career. His second book, You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live is scheduled to be published in May. That book was prompted in part by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, particularly the images of Floyd being suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer. Kix takes readers back to 1963 Birmingham, Alabama to investigate the story behind a photo of a Black teen menaced by a policeman and a lunging German Shepherd.

Kix’s first book, The Saboteur, also took readers back in history, in that case to mid-century France, telling the story of aristocrat turned anti-Nazi saboteur Robert de La Rochefoucald.

Kix will be at Central Library at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6.

Author Taylor Harris – Courtesy of AViD

Taylor Harris

Debut publication: This Boy We Made

The final author in this year’s line-up is Taylor Harris, whose debut memoir, This Boy We Made, was released last year to wide acclaim.

“It’s a book that stood out to me and doing some research I found the book and read the book and it’s just a topic that has some universal elements,” said Paluch. “It’s [about] a Black mother … struggling with the institutions of the health care system … as her son is starting to have some health, mental and physical issues, every parent knows that feeling when a doctor says ‘We’re not sure.’ ”

Harris will speak at Central Library at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 15.