Saratoga Springs has long been a destination for celebrated authors, whether they’re coming for a talk and book signing at Northshire, Skidmore College’s Summer Writers Institute or a residency at Yaddo (see: Susan Orlean, Amy Hempel, Will Schwalbe, Roxane Gay, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo and Jennifer Egan). This area is also somewhat of a spawning ground for up-and-coming authors, such as Jeff Durstewitz, S.A. Williams, James Ziskin, Emily Layden and New York Times bestseller Suleika Jaouad. Even James Bond himself traveled to the Spa City in Ian Fleming’s 1956 novel Diamonds Are Forever (Fleming also traveled here when doing research for the book). The bottom line? Saratoga is a book town, and it was only a matter of time before someone did something about it.
Enter: the first annual Saratoga Book Festival, which will storm the Spa City October 15-17 for 18 author sessions, panels and activities, plus two keynote addresses. In total, the three-day festival will feature 36 authors. Kicking off the program on Friday, October 15 at 7pm will be the opening ceremony, held at the Inn at Saratoga. There, attendees will hear from Saratoga Book Festival President Ellen Beal, local author Joseph Bruchac, and Carol Daggs, who will discuss her books with Saratoga Spring Public Library Director Issac Pulver. Literary awards will also be presented to Lew and Patricia Titterton, The Morrow Family and Isabella Sementilli, and the nominees for next year’s awards will be announced.
Saturday will be jam-packed with events covering every genre imaginable: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, crime fiction, children’s books, memoir, graphic novels, poetry, fantasy, dystopian fiction—you name it. The day’s regular events will take place at the library, Saratoga Arts Caffè Lena, Walt and Whitman and the Inn at Saratoga, and are free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Those interested in attending the festival should register online (they’ll then be asked to select which sessions they’ll be attending in the SBF event app) and will need to check in at the Saratoga Library beginning at 9:30am on Saturday to receive their festival lanyard and badge.
The keynote sessions, on the other hand, do cost money—they’re $15 each or $20 for both. On Saturday at 4:30pm, Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 70 books including bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, will take the stage at the Saratoga City Center for a literary conversation with Robert Boyers, professor of English at Skidmore, editor of Salmagundi and director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. Then, at 7pm, its award-winning author Russell Banks, author of The Darling, The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction and many more novels and short story collections, in conversation with Yaddo president Elaina Richardson.
As of October 5, no events had been booked for Sunday, October 17, but the festival’s operations manager, Steve Rosenblum, said events could still be added and that those interested should check saratogabookfestival.org for updates.