Why you shouldn’t miss the Vegas Valley Book Festival this year

The Vegas Valley Book Festival is loaded with so many interesting writers and educators that whittling down your options will be excruciating!

In its 14th year, the Vegas Valley Book Festival is loaded with so many interesting writers and educators that whittling down your options will be excruciating. Here’s a look at five of the free talks taking place October 17 at Downtown’s Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth Street.

The Free Speech Battleground: From Paris to the Digital Frontier UNLV journalism professor and expert in First Amendment law Stephen Bates moderates a talk between panelists Gene Polincinski, COO of the Newseum Institute; Leslie Griffin, a constitutional law professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law; and Hal Berghel, founding director of the Identity Theft and Financial Fraud Research and Operations Center and CyberSecurity Research Center. 12:30-1:30 p.m., Room 125.

Guests arriving at a panel about the role of art in society at the Vegas Valley Book Festival.

Literary Nonfiction: The Elegance of the Truth Author Gregory Crosby moderates a discussion on writing reality featuring best-selling author and Esquire writer-at-large Mike Sager; Black Mountain Institute Executive Director and author Joshua Wolf Shenk; Dinah Lenney, author of Bigger than Life: A Murder, a Memoir; and Bert Ashe, professor, noted explorer of black identity through black hair and author of Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles. 1:45-2:45 p.m., Auditorium.

Do Issues Matter?: Style and Substance in the 2016 Election Political columnist Steve Sebelius moderates a panel featuring conservative writer and policy scholar Steven Hayward, Atlantic writer Molly Ball and UNLV history professor Michael Green. 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Room 125.

The Old West Dies Hard: Reshaping the Narrative in the American West Geoff Schumacher, longtime journalist (now director of content for the Mob Museum) leads a discussion between Bill Fox, writer on cognition and landscape and director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno; Mary Sojourner, novelist and NPR Morning Edition commentator; the aforementioned Green; and Sally Denton, investigative reporter, author and historian. 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m., Room 125.

The Voice of the Mojave Battleborn author (and Story Prize winner) Claire Vaye Watkins, who spent much of her childhood growing up in Tecopa, California, and Pahrump (with her famous father Paul Watkins, defector from the Manson Family) is interviewed by Gailmarie Pahmeier. 3-4 p.m., Auditorium.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Race and Ethnicity in the 21st Century Manoucheka Celeste, professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies at UNLV, moderates a discussion between the aforementioned Ashe; Oskana Marafioti, whose memoir American Gypsy captures life as an outsider in America; Iranian-American writer Melody Moezzi (Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life and War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims); and Wendy C. Ortiz, LA-based essayist and creative nonfiction and fiction writer. 10-11 a.m., Room 125.

Engaging Prose: Form, Function and that Special Something Dawn-Michelle Baude, author, Senior Fulbright Scholar and Las Vegas Weekly art critic moderates a discussion between writers Maile Chapman, Cris Mazza, Wendy C. Ortiz and Kris Saknussemm. 12:30-1:30 p.m., Readers’ Tent 1.

What's Old is New: Embracing the Classics Today Scott Dickensheets, writer and deputy editor of Desert Companion, talks literature with novelist John Bowers, UNLV professor and internationally known scholar of medieval English Literature; and Eric Rasmussen, author and renowned Shakespeare author. 3-4 p.m., Room 140.

Industry Insights: Writing about Food LA-based writer and Las Vegas Weekly contributor Andy Wang talks Las Vegas dining and the dish on food writing with Brock Radke, Las Vegas Weekly associate editor, and Greg Thilmont, food and travel writer for several Las Vegas publications. 3-4 p.m., Readers’ Tent 1.

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