The 13th Iowa City Book Festival includes Bob Woodward, a celebration of Dostoevsky and more

Literature lovers should get ready to indulge in a week-long celebration of authors, readers and writing, as the 13th annual Iowa City Book Festival (ICBF) kicks off.

This year’s festival runs from Monday, Oct. 18 to Sunday, Oct. 24, and unlike last year’s festival, which was entirely virtual because of the pandemic, it will have a mix of in-person and virtual programming. All in-person events will be held at the Iowa City Public Library, the University of Iowa Main Library or FilmScene at the Chauncey.

The festivities begin early with a virtual event presented by Simon & Schuster on Thursday, Oct. 14. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa will discuss their book Peril, which focuses on the end of the Trump presidency and transition to the Biden era.

Then, on Sun, Oct. 17, the 1958 movie version of The Brothers Karamazov — featuring the film debut of a young, pre-Twilight Zone/Star Trek/Blue Origin space flight William Shatner — will be screened at the Chauncey. All four films shown throughout the festival relate to the fall 2021 University of Iowa Main Library Gallery exhibition, From Revolutionary Outcast to a Man of God: Dostoevsky at 200. This exhibition examines the life of Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and was curated by Dr. Anna Barker, University of Iowa professor of Russian literature and board member for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

“We [will] present a selection of big-screen adaptations of the great Russian writer’s works,” according to FilmScene, one of the festival’s partners. “Immediately following the screening, please stick around for a special conversation about the film between Dr. Anna Barker and FilmScene Programming Director, Ben Delgado.”

As the week progresses, dozens of authors will read and discuss their works, both online and around Iowa City. The festival will also have events produced by the Writers’ Room on Monday, Oct. 18, and Riverside Theatre, with performances scheduled throughout both weekends, as well as the International Writing Program on Friday, Oct. 22.

ICBF will be requiring masks at all in-person events to limit the spread of COVID-19. According to John Kenyon, the executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, “Because of coronavirus restrictions, in-person events produced by the festival will require masks and will have limited, spaced seating. Partner events may have other restrictions. Programs will be streamed live online and recorded for later viewing as well.”


Thurs, Oct. 14
7 p.m. – Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Online

Sun, Oct. 17
6:30 p.m. – The Brothers Karamazov, FilmScene at the Chauncey


Mon, Oct. 18
7 p.m. – The Writers’ Rooms, Iowa City Public Library

Tues, Oct. 19
7 p.m. – Julie Hanson and Marc Rahe, Iowa City Public Library

Wed, Oct. 20
7 p.m. – Habib Tengour and Pierre Joris, Iowa City Public Library

Thurs, Oct. 21
7 p.m. – Reuben Jonathan Miller, Online
7 p.m. – Gina Frangello and Emily Rapp Black, Online

Fri, Oct. 22
12 p.m. – UI International Writing Program Panel, Iowa City Public Library

Sat, Oct. 23
11:30 a.m. – Gregory Galloway, Iowa City Public Library
1 p.m. – Reading Through the Roarin’ ’20s, UI Main Library Special Collections
1 p.m. – Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Iowa City Public Library
2:30 p.m. – Laura Gellot, University of Iowa Main Library
2:30 p.m. – Chuy Renteria, Iowa City Public Library
4 p.m. – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Online, Free

Sun, Oct. 24
1 p.m. – Debra Marquart and Shreya Khullar, Iowa City Public Library
2:30 p.m – Fiona Sampson, Online

More information, festival updates and links to all the virtual programming can be found at ICBF’s website.

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Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

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