UIC authors at Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend

Cris Mazza

English professor Cris Mazza says Printers Row Lit Fest “strengthens a sense of community, with other writers as well as readers.” Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

Cris Mazza, author and UIC English professor, is not only a featured speaker at this weekend’s Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest — she’s also a big fan of the festival.

“Since it casts a wider net than other festivals and conferences I attend, it strengthens a sense of community, with other writers as well as readers,” says Mazza, profiled in a May 16 Tribune preview of the fest as one of “five authors to watch.”

About 150,000 literary enthusiasts will crowd the South Loop this weekend for the 30th annual festival around Polk and Dearborn Streets, which includes 200 onstage events and 150 vendors selling new and used books.

Barbara Ransby, professor of African-American studies, history and gender and women’s studies, Luis Alberto Urrea, professor of English and LAS distinguished professor, and John D’Emilio, professor emeritus of gender and women’s studies and history, are other UIC writers scheduled to speak during the fest.

Mazza, director of the Program for Writers, says she likes the event for its singular focus on books, rather than some blend with film, art or stage performance.

“The early summer weather, being outdoors yet in a thriving city, it seems an atmosphere of great optimism,” she says.

Barbara Ransby

Barbara Ransby, who directs UIC’s Social Justice Initiative, is a featured author in an event Sunday at the Lit Fest.

Mazza is the critically acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and collections of short fiction. Her first novel, How to Leave a Country, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction.

Her latest book is Something Wrong with Her: A Real-Time Memoir. She will be in conversation with Kristin Samuelson, RedEye newspaper managing editor, Sunday at 1 p.m., Room 5038 Jones College Prep, 700 S. State St.

Ransby will be the featured author in conversation with DePaul University’s Amina Gautier at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, 5034 Jones College Prep.

Luis Urrea

English professor Luis Alberto Urrea, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction, will moderate a talk at the festival.

Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson is the most recent book by Ransby, who directs UIC’s Social Justice Initiative. She authored an award-winning biography of Ella Baker and is editor of Souls, a journal of black politics and culture.

Urrea will moderate a conversation with Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans, and best-selling author Luanne Rice Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 637 S. Dearborn St., second floor.

Urrea, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction, is the award-winning author of 15 books, including The Devil’s Highway, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Into the Beautiful North and Queen of America. A 10th anniversary edition of the best-selling The Devil’s Highway is scheduled for release next year.

D’Emilio will discuss the collection of essays found in his latest book, In a New Century: Essays on Queer History, Politics and Community Life, with University of Chicago’s Geoffrey Stone at 2 p.m. Saturday, North Auditorium,  Jones College Prep.

Tickets are required for all three events and available online. There’s a $1 charge.


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