DSM Book Festival to feature authors of ‘The Flight Attendant’, ‘The Lost Apothecary’ and other page-turners on March 25

DSM Book Festival

Capital Square, Downtown Des Moines, Saturday, March 25

2022 headlining author presentation for Stephanie Land at DSM Book Festival. — courtesy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature.” ―Maya Angelou

Iowa has a national, even global, reputation as a place with a legacy of writers. The DSM Book Festival is central Iowa’s stellar literary event, an eagerly anticipated destination for bibliophiles, authors, readers and budding writers. It received gold medals from the International Festivals & Events Association for Best New Event, Best Education Program and Best On-Site Décor.

The 2023 event promises to continue this legacy and give Iowa’s literature loving audiences a bounty of immersive options. Saturday, March 25 is your literary playday. Delight in the tantalizing offerings this year’s event will present.

Anchoring a day of exhibits, local and regional authors, displays, interactive enticements and more is a quartet of extraordinary authors. Attendees seeking additions to their personal libraries will find regional, independent bookstore Beaverdale Books operating an on-site store offering books for sale — perfect for purchasing and getting these authors to personally inscribe.

Chris Bohjalian is a #1 New York Times bestselling author who’s penned 24 books. His work has been translated into 35 languages and received three film adaptations. The Emmy-nominated HBO series The Flight Attendant is based on Bohjalian’s 2018 novel of the same name.

Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the national bestselling novel, How High We Go in the Dark, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His work One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories was a selection for the All Iowa Reads list in 2023.

NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of the novels Glory and We Need New Names, the latter of which was recognized with multiple awards, including the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award. It also earned Bulawayo a spot as an honoree on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” selection for 2013.

Sarah Penner is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary, which has been translated into 40 languages worldwide. The novel is also being developed into a television series at Fox.

DSM Book Festival will feature book club-style discussions led by featured commentators, hands-on activities, children’s programming, food, drink, live music and more. Details can be found on the event’s website,

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with and purchase books from local authors and learn more about local nonprofits. This event is free. VIP packages, starting at $60, include special amenities like signed copies of books from headlining authors.

“‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’”―George R.R. Martin, ‘A Dance with Dragons’

Plus! A quick convo with Chris Bohjalian

When asked about his book, The Flight Attendant, being adapted into a hit TV series of the same name, Bohjalian was effusive.

“Kaley Cuoco as Cassandra Bowden was fantastic,” said the New York Times bestselling author. “There was a reason that she had multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.”

He continued, describing how this story came into being.

“My books are filled with autobiographical minutia. In The Flight Attendant, I’ve never been a flight attendant, but I had an aunt who was a flight attendant… back in the day when we all assumed she was a spy because she flew for Pan Am. She was off the radar because this was before cell phones and she would be gone for three or four days at a time — Berlin or Dubai or Moscow or wherever Pan Am might have been flying.”

The conversation quickly switched as Bohjalian launched into the genesis of his latest novel, The Lioness.

“Obviously, I’m not a movie star,” he added with a chuckle, “and, in fact, don’t play one on TV. The first time I knew I wanted to write this book was in a movie theater in August of 2019. I was in New York City because we were workshopping my stage adaptation of Midwives, which they were bringing off-Broadway in 2020. It was an Equity day off, Monday, and I was emerging from the movie theater, from the air-conditioned dark, into the scorching August heat and the cerulean sky, and I thought to myself, ‘My God, I love movies. Why have I never written a Hollywood novel?’ And, I decided I would.

“I’ve never set a novel in my childhood, the 1960s or the 1970s. That was one of Hollywood’s golden ages, so let’s go there. I am of an age when the first movie people saw was Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and animated dancing penguins. Not me. The first movie I saw, because my parents had no judgment or filter, thank goodness, was Bonnie and Clyde. This is the collection of my autobiographical minutia.”

This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 012.