Published February 22, 2024

Staunton—Although the Virginia Festival of the Book, a program of Virginia Humanities, takes place in Charlottesville each year, 2024 will see two Festival Preview Events happening in Staunton, Virginia during the month of March. 

Festival Preview Events are part of an intentional effort to bring the Festival of the Book experience to more people across Virginia. Preview events take place outside Charlottesville in the weeks leading up to the festival. In 2024, preview events will take place in Crozet, Staunton, Nelson County, Alexandria, Richmond, Grundy, Charles City, and Lynchburg.

In Staunton, Virginia author Mojgan Ghazirad will talk about her new autobiographical novel, The House on Sun Street, at the Staunton Public Library on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Her novel explores the experience of a young girl and her family during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a period that marked a cataclysmic change in the rights of women. 

The Virginia Festival of the Book is about books, absolutely. But it’s really about communities coming together.

Kalela Williams

On March 17 at 11:00 a.m., author Rachel Cantor will visit Staunton from New York City to read from her novel Half-Life of a Stolen Sister at the American Shakespeare Center. Cantor’s book reimagines the lives of 19th-century poets and novelists, the Brontë sisters. This reading will be interspersed with performances of Wuthering Heights by local actors from Staunton organization The Off Center, and will be followed by a book signing, as well as a birthday cake for the Brontë patriarch, who will be 246 years old that day. The book signing and cake-cutting will take place at Staunton Books and Tea, opening soon near New Street and Beverley Street. 

Kalela Williams, director of the Virginia Center for the Book, which produces the festival, lives on Beverley Street in Staunton. “The Virginia Festival of the Book is about books, absolutely. But it’s really about communities coming together. And when Staunton says, ‘You belong here,’ we mean it. Community is what we do.” 

The impact of books in communities, and Staunton in particular, is the subject of a short video which features Williams in conversation with Ali McCue, Public Services Librarian at the Staunton Public Library. The video was filmed and produced by Pat Jarrett, Media Specialist at Virginia Humanities, who is also a Staunton resident.

New York Times bestselling author Jason Wright, author of Even the Dog Knows signs books and talks to fans in Staunton during the 2023 Virginia Festival of the Book. Photo by Pat Jarrett, Virginia Humanities

“Staunton has been my home for the last decade and a half, and I’m thrilled that my friends at the library are so enthusiastic about this festival,” Jarrett says. “Telling this story connects the dots, weaving together communities of authors and readers in the social fabric we wrap ourselves in daily.”

The Virginia Festival of the Book has been bringing together writers and readers to promote and celebrate books, reading, literacy, and literary culture in Charlottesville, Virginia every March since 1995, making 2024 the 30th annual festival. 

The festival schedule includes more than 80 events featuring 130 authors. The majority of events are free and open to the public, including Staunton’s Festival Preview Events. A small number of signature events require tickets, including the Festival’s Wordy Thirty Anniversary Party.

Details on all 2024 Virginia Festival of the Book preview events are available here.

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With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

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