Gender, race, politics and the environment are prominent themes in the seventh Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival which takes place this summer on August 5 and 6. Held every two years, the popular festival features two days of panel discussions and interviews with authors of some of the biggest book releases of the past year.

The festival will open Friday evening, August 4, with a panel discussion featuring two White House reporters. Titled Tweets, Leaks and Turmoil: Inside the Trump White House, speakers will include Glenn Thrush of The New York Times and Ashley Parker, White House correspondent for The Washington Post. Sponsored by the Vineyard Gazette, the panel begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center.

Ashley Parker of The Washington Post.

Suellen Lazarus, founder and director of the festival and a longtime Chilmark summer resident, said she and the advisory panel decided this year’s event should focus on the pressing issues of the day.

“So the choice was, something’s happening in America that people need to talk about, and let’s try to make this into a format for people to talk and advance their understanding on issues,” she said.

Author talks on the topic of race and racial history include White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, Truevine by Beth Macy, Bound in Wedlock by Tera Hunter, and Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Truevine tells the story of one mother’s 28-year-long effort to find her sons, albino African-Americans who were captured at the turn of the 20th century and toured around the world as part of a circus.

Author talks relating to gender issues include You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships by Deborah Tannen, Because of Sex by Gillian Thomas, and Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker.

Ms. Thomas’s book details the legacy of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The volume delves into landmark cases that used Title VII to open up the workplace to women.

Glenn Thrush of The New York Times.

The Saturday program on August 5 will take place at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. Authors will speak in panel discussions.

One highlight will be a conversation among Richard Russo, Ann Patchett and Amor Towles.

On Sunday, the festival returns to the Chilmark Community Center. Ms. Lazarus said hosts of Boston’s NPR news station WBUR, (a festival sponsor) will conduct interviews, including Tom Ashbrook, Jeremy Hobson and Vicki Croke.

On Sunday the Marcia Kaufman Lecture will close the festival. Deborah Tannen, Dr. Willie Parker and Alyssa Mastromonaco are scheduled to participate in the talk which will address unresolved issues around gender, including pay equality and access to reproductive health care.

Because of the festival’s focus this year on well-defined issues, Ms. Lazarus said it will be a bit lighter on fiction. “But the fiction that we have is cutting edge,” she said, pointing to Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and Marlena by Julie Buntin as highlights.

The festival will also feature author talks on food. Island cookbook authors Sarah Waldman and Susie Middleton will discuss their newest books. The festival is free and open to the public. The opening panel and reception on Friday will require tickets, available at

For a full schedule of events, visit