Today@Sam Article

SHSU Set To Host Acclaimed Authors

March 27, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

2018_English_NBAF_SlideThe National Book Awards Festival at Sam Houston State University brings recent National Book Award finalists and winners to Huntsville for several days of literary events that are free and open to the public. This year’s visiting authors to be showcased include 2017 NBA Finalist for Young People’s Literature Erika L. Sánchez (“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”), 2010 Poetry Finalist Monica Youn (“Ignatz”), and 2016 Fiction Finalist Karan Mahajan (“The Association of Small Bombs”).

In addition to numerous community events happening as a part of the festival, the main stage event with the authors will take place on Monday, April 15 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center.

Now in its sixth year, the event will include a reading and discussion with the authors. After the presentation, the authors will sign copies of their books, which can be purchased on site.

“We’re incredibly privileged to host the National Book Awards Festival at SHSU. The opportunity to share such remarkable literary talent with the community is why we do this each year,” said Amanda Nowlin-O’Banion, clinical assistant professor of creative writing in the Department of English.

Considered in literary circles as the “Academy Awards of Books,” the National Book Award is one of the highest and most respected honors given to an American writer. As a joint endeavor of SHSU, the National Book Foundation, the City of Huntsville, and Huntsville ISD this unique community event gives students and the public access to literary superstars.

“Reading is its own sort of magic. By hosting the NBAF at SHSU, we hope to share that magic with those who might not have access otherwise,” Stephanie Savell, NBAF graduate student assistant.

Erica-L-SanchezAs a poet, novelist and essayist Sánchez’s poetry collection, “Lessons on Expulsion”, explores what it means to live on both sides of the border—the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead.  Sánchez has won a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Karan-MahajanMahajan grew up in India. His first novel, “Family Planning” was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. His novel, “The Association of Small Bombs” was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Awards and named one of the "10 Best Books of 2016" by The New York Times.

Monica-YounA native Houstonian, Youn is the author of “Blackacre,” which was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award in poetry; “Ignatz,” a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in poetry; and “Barter.” Youn has received poetry fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation and Stanford University.

Schedule of Festival Events:

April 9

6:00–8:00 p.m. Memoir Workshop “How to Tell Your Story” (The Wynne Home Arts Center)

April 12

4:00–6:00 p.m. BookUp Bash, a community celebration of children’s books, benefitting BookUpTX (Huntsville Public Library)

April 15

6:00–7:30 p.m. Mainstage event and author discussion (Gaertner Performing Arts Center)

7:45–8:30 p.m. Author Book Signing (Gaertner Performing Arts Center Lobby)

For free tickets visit

April 16

11:00–12:00 p.m. Fiction Craft Talk with Karan Mahajan (Evans Bldg., Rm. 212)

2:00–3:00 p.m. Poetry Craft Talk with Monica Youn (Evans Bldg., Rm. 212)

The National Book Awards Festival at SHSU is sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the MFA Program in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing.

For more information contact Amanda Nowlin-O’Banion at or Scott Kaukonen at  Additional information is also online at

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