Festival of Books to feature Zooey Deschanel, Don Lemon and USC authors including Viet Thanh Nguyen

The nation’s largest literary festival — sponsored by USC and the Los Angeles Times — will be held online for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.

April 15, 2021 Grayson Schmidt

For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC – the nation’s largest in-person literary event – will be held online due to COVID-19, though it will retain some of its original format.

The pandemic delayed last year’s festival from April until October and forced it to move completely online for the first time in its 25-year history.

This year’s festival will be held April 17-23 and will feature about 150 authors and over 30 online events — more than last year’s monthlong festival.

During an unprecedented year … people turned to books more than ever to make sense of the world.

Boris Kachka

“During an unprecedented year that tested humanity’s adaptability, it shouldn’t be surprising that — as sales numbers show — people turned to books more than ever to make sense of the world,” said Boris Kachka, the L.A. Times books editor. “The Festival of Books, too, has adapted to serve that need.”

The last in-person event in 2019 drew more than 150,000 attendees over two days to the USC University Park Campus, the festival’s home since 2011.

Trojan authors among the speakers at 2021 Festival of Books

The 2021 Festival of Books remains packed with plenty of ties to the university, with President Carol L. Folt kicking off the virtual event on Saturday morning, April 17, followed by a performance from the USC Trojan Marching Band.

Trojans will be represented throughout the festival, including a panel discussion of celebrated authors like Viet Thanh Nguyen of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Howard Rodman of the USC School of Cinematic Arts; William Deverell of USC Dornsife; and Priya Jaikumar of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, who will moderate the discussion.

Other authors, moderators and guests will include Zooey Deschanel, Don Lemon, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, James Patterson, Chang-Rae Lee, Lulu Miller and Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Festival of Books is a partnership between the L.A. Times and USC. The L.A. Times Book Prizes will be presented the night before the festival begins.

For schedule details, visit the Times’ Festival of Books website.

This story was originally published on March 24, 2021.