Paul Karasik

For most of the authors at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival 2021 Summer Series, this will be their first in-person event since the pandemic began. Having published books at the start of or during the pandemic, these authors had to forgo the usual book tours, turning to Zoom instead to connect with their fans.

This adds a special poignancy to the festival, which takes place outdoors, under large tents to keep safe and allow for social distancing. To meet in person, to hear the story behind the story of the creative journey is always at the heart of the festival. But this summer this process takes on a greater significance. The world’s story changed this past year, and although the pandemic does not figure specifically in many of the books, it has touched on all of them. So has the political upheaval of the last year, along with injustice and racial reckoning.

Inside this special section are interviews with many of the authors taking part in the festival. Consider it an appetizer to the main course, a feast of words, ideas and stories taking place at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Chilmark Community Center through Sunday.

One of the many lessons the pandemic revealed is a reminder of how important books are as they help us dig deeper than the headlines and partisan slogans.

Reading, as the old saying goes, is fundamental. It is solace, it is learning, it is walking in another’s shoes, one word at a time. It builds knowledge, empathy, connection, and the simple yet essential ability to sit still, with oneself and the characters, real or imagined, created by the writer.

This weekend adds the next layer, to look up from the page and hear about the hard work, the revelations, the wrong turns and right turns, the authors experienced as they followed the stories they were called to write. It is a gift, reminding us that book festivals are fundamental too.

— Bill Eville

Book Festival 2019

The three-day festival began with laughter at the Performing Arts Center for a sold-out conversation between Seth Meyers and Chelsea Handler.

As a journalist, Jim Acosta wants you to know that he never wanted to make himself the story.

It is estimated that roughly 250 million people are living in countries where they were not born.

Sigrid Nunez did not expect her seventh novel to have as its protagonist a writer living in New York.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi has cooked for high 
society and for oil spill crews.

A dogged reporter on the four a.m to noon shift at the New York Times was tired.

My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley, is a wry, endearing and often very funny novel.

John Grisham will participate in a discussion with Amor Towles on Sunday, August 4 at 9:30 a.m.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. has been vacationing on the Vineyard since 1981.

Lisa Taddeo spent eight years doing research and interviews for Three Women.

Gary Shteyngart will take part in a panel on transformative friendships in fiction.

The Martha's Vineyard Book Festival opens on Friday, August 2 at the Performing Arts Center with a conversation between Chelsea Handler and Seth Meyers.

From her earliest years, Janet Messineo knew she wanted to be a great fisherman.

Fay Wray, a noted beauty from the Golden Age of Hollywood, had two main love interests in her life.