Published March 19, 2022

2021 National Book Award–honored authors Robert Jones, Jr. (The Prophets, Finalist, Fiction), Amber McBride (Me (Moth), Finalist, Young People’s Literature), and Jason Mott (Hell of a Book, Winner, Fiction) join us for a conversation on ancestors, ghosts, and community. Moderated by Hannah Oliver Depp. Presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation.

Watch the video from the event:

Praise for The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

“An extraordinary, vivid novel written with heart and imagination… The Prophets really dazzles.”—NPR, Weekend Edition

“With this epic novel, Jones marks his entry into the literary arena… The greatest gift of this novel is its efforts to render emotional interiority to enslaved people who are too often depicted either as vessels for sadistic violence or as noble, superhuman warriors for liberation… Jones’s debut novel is an important contribution to American letters, Black queer studies and the present moment’s profound reckoning with the legacy of America’s racialized violence.”—The Washington Post

Praise for Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

“This searing debut novel-in-verse is told from the perspective of Moth, a Black teen whose life changed forever the day a car crash killed her family… Each free verse poem is tightly composed, leading into the next for a poignant and richly layered narrative. The story builds softly and subtly to a perfect, bittersweet ending. Fans of Jacqueline Woodson won’t be able to put this one down.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“McBride artfully weaves Black Southern Hoodoo traditions with those of the Navajo/Diné people, creating a beautiful and cross-cultural reverence for the earth, its inhabitants, and our ancestors… Written in verse, this novel is hauntingly romantic, refusing to be rushed or put down without deep contemplation of what it means to accept the tragedies of our lives and to reckon with the ways we metamorphosize as a result of them.” —Booklist, starred review

Praise for Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

“Hell of a Book is a masterwork of balance, as Mott navigates the two narratives and their delicate tonal distinctions. A surrealist feast of imagination that’s brimming with very real horrors, frustrations and sorrows, it can break your heart and make you laugh out loud at the same time, often on the same page. This is an achievement of American fiction that rises to meet this particular moment with charm, wisdom and truth.”—BookPage, starred review

“Stunning… Mott’s poetic, cinematic novel tackles what it means to live in a country where Black people perpetually ‘live lives under the hanging sword of fear.'”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Sponsors

Virginia Festival of the Book staff, volunteers, partners, and attendees appreciate all of our sponsors. It is their crucial support, along with individual donors, that allows us to present the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book almost completely free of charge. We appreciate the generous commitment from our Premier Sponsor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and these major sponsors: Michelle and David Baldacci, Dominion Energy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Community Partners

UVA LGBT Committee for Faculty and Staff

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With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

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