2021 Saratoga Book Festival Program

Thank you for attending the 2021 Saratoga Book Festival. 
Couldn’t make it to all the sessions?  Video recordings are now available by clicking on the session names below.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Ellen Beal, Saratoga Book Festival President
Klare Ingram, President of the Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library
Joseph Bruchac, Author and Nulhegan Abenaki Citizen

2021 Literary Champions Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lew and Patricia Titterton

Youth Award: Isabella Sementilli

Saratoga Reads

Issac Pulver, Director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library and Carol Daggs, 2021 Saratoga Reads author, speak about her books, the Saratoga Reads program, and announce the 2022 nominees. 

(Invitation Only Due to Space Imitations)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Morning Sessions

Known for beautifully drawn and heartwarming illustrations, Elizabeth Zunon published her first authored illustrated children’s book, Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family, in 2019. In an illustration workshop for ages 5 to 9, children will create pictures inspired by the story’s characters. Saratoga Springs Public Library Children’s Room, Lower Level.

Note: Video for this session is not available.

A discussion of the important role literature plays in the strengthening of Native America and the deep and authentic connections the incorporation of Indigenous language provides to the creative process. Program includes bilingual poetry reading, music. and traditional stories.

The award-winning Abenaki poet, novelist, storyteller, and scholar of indigenous culture, Dr. Joseph Bruchac, addresses authenticity and Native American identity in literature with sons James Bruchac, an Abenaki storyteller and cultural educator, and Jesse Bruchac, a storyteller, musician, and Abenaki language instructor.

Watch the Video Here

Kim van Alkemade, author of the NYT bestselling novels Bachelor Girl and Orphan #8 is a Saratoga Springs favorite. She joins award-winning author of the international bestselling novels The German Girl and The Daughter’s Tale, Armando Lucas Correa, for a book chat about their mutual love of historical fiction. Correa’s most recent work is the memoir In Search of Emma: How We Created Our Family.

Watch the Video Here

The acclaimed journalist, author, and Guggenheim Fellow David Gates interviews fellow Vermonters Peter Cameron and Brad Kessler in a discussion about their latest works and the writing life. Cameron is the author of eight novels and three collections of stories. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Rolling Stone, and several literary
journals. His latest book, What Happens at Night, has been called a masterpiece and a “brilliant gift of a novel” by the Chicago Review of Books. Kessler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Birds in Fall and Lick Creek, and the award-winning memoir, Goat Song. His work has been published in The New Yorker, The Nation, Kenyon Review, and Bomb. Kessler is the
recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Whiting Writer’s Award.  His new book, North: A Novel is a powerful moving work about the interconnected lives of a Vermont monk, a Somali refugee, and an Afghan war veteran.

Watch the Video Here


Brothers James and Jesse Bowman Bruchac are Nulhegan Abenaki citizens, authors, storytellers, and co-directors of their family-run education center, Ndakinna, where they teach Native American life ways.

James is an award-winning author, Abenaki storyteller, animal tracker, wilderness survival expert, cultural educator, and instructor of the martial arts who has over 30 years’ experience delivering educational programs to people of all ages around the world.

Jesse is a traditional storyteller, musician, and Abenaki language instructor. Jesse has lectured at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, and is co-teaching a Wabanaki Language course with Conor MCDonough Quinn at the University of Southern Maine. He is the director of the School of Abenaki, which launched at Middlebury College in 2020. Jesse has also acted as consultant and language coach for programs on AMC, National Geographic, and PBS, including Turn, Saints and Strangers, and Jamestown, which first aired on BBC. He won the Best Storyteller Competition at Indian Summer in Milwaukee in 1995.

Watch the Video Here

Passion and crime in the art world is the settings for a new novel by crime fiction master Jonathan Santlofer.  Called “a must for fans of Dan Brown and Arturo Perez-Reverte,” by Kirkus Reviews, Jonathan Santlofer’s new book, The Last Mona Lisa, is a colorful and absorbing mystery, steeped in art and complete with exciting action scenes and beautiful descriptions of Florence, Paris, and Nice.

Tom Piazza is celebrated as a novelist and a writer on American music. His twelve books include the novels A Free State and City Of Refuge, the post-Katrina manifesto Why New Orleans Matters, and the essay collection Devil Sent The Rain. He was a principal writer for the innovative HBO drama series TREME, and the winner of a Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey.

Here Santlofer and Piazza will engage in discussion of subjects, themes, and genres they have explored in their careers as writers.

Watch the Video Here

Robert Repino, Chana Porter, and Keith Willis talk about world building and their latest works. Repino, is a science fiction/fantasy author best known for his No Name Series, dystopian novel where animals take revenge on the planet’s few remaining humans. He is editor of religious studies and history for Oxford University Press. Chana Porter is a MacDowell Fellow, whose debut novel, The Seep, offers a new, more hopeful version of the classic alien invasion story. Named an ABA Indie Next Pick in February 2020, The Seep received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Foreword Reviews. Keith Willis writes swashbuckling medieval fantasies, including the award-winning Knights of Kilbourne series. Willis is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, and the Latham/Albany/Schenectady/Troy Science Fiction Association.

Watch the Video Here

Violent crime leaves behind ripples of pain and suffering that can envelop survivors and whole communities for decades. In a panel discussion devoted to the intersection of memoir and true crime, Betsy Bonner, Jeannie Vanasco, and Jim Tracy, share their recent books and the stories they could not let go. In the Book of Atlantis Black, Bonner explores her sister’s complicated life and mysterious disappearance in a deeply personal work that sifts through childhood trauma, family pain, and the final years of a sibling gone missing. In Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl, Vanasco writes about her rape by a high school friend and how the rape impacted his life as well as her own, asking uncomfortable questions with unflinching honesty. The book was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a TIME magazine Must-Read Book of the Year, and the 2020 winner of the Ohioana Book Award in nonfiction. In Sworn to Silence, Tracy weaves together a true crime narrative that should rank with some of the most compelling American crime stories of modern times. He does so while taking you—the reader—on a page-turning journey back to the early 1970s, unveiling an American serial killer most people have never heard of.

Note: Video for this session is not available. 

Afternoon Sessions

Children’s book author Krystyna Poray Goddu leads a workshop for ages 10 and up entitled, “Writing Poetry with Emily Dickinson & Edna St. Vincent Millay.” The author looks at both poets’ nature-focused poetry and offers opportunities for participants of all ages to write their own poems. Goddu’s latest book, Becoming Emily:  The Life of Emily Dickinson introduces middle-grade readers to the life and work of the enigmatic American poet Emily Dickinson. Publishers Weekly called the book “a lively and effective introduction to Dickinson’s life and work.” Kirkus Reviews, called it a “thorough study [that] is sure to entice middle-grade readers to explore one of the 19th century’s greatest poets.” Her earlier biography, A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millary was named a Eureka! Honor Book Award by the California Reading Association. 

Note: Video for this session is not available. 

Some Girls Do, Jennifer Dugan newest YA title is an LBTQ+ romance that asks, “Can an out & proud track star trying to make the world better and a closeted beauty queen with classic car dreams get together and go the distance?” Joining Jennifer on the SBF stage is Rory Power, YA/horror writer and author of Wilder Girls and Burn Our Bodies Down. Both craft the kind of
messy girl characters that they wish they could have read when they were growing up.

Watch the Video Here

Joining us on the historic Caffe Lena stage are poets April Bernard and Peg Boyers

April Bernard has received a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry and the Stover Memorial Prize. She is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Skidmore College and a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her first book of poetry, Blackbird Bye Bye was chosen by Amy Clampitt as the winner of the 1989 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her other acclaimed books of poetry include Brawl & Jag, Romanticism, Swan Electric, and Psalms. She is also the author of two novels, Pirate Jenny and Miss Fuller, which was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Prize.

Peg Boyers is Executive Editor of Salmagundi magazine and author of Hard Bread, Honey With Tobacco, To Forget Venice and most recently The Album, a volume of ekphrastic poems with images of the works which inspired them. She regularly teaches writing workshops at Skidmore College and the New York Summer Writers Institute and, every other year, at Columbia University.

Chase Twichell, who was formerly announced as part of this session is unfortunately unable to attend and sends her regrets.

Watch the Video Here

Marcus Kwame Anderson is a fine artist and illustrator who recently illustrated The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History, written by David F. Walker. In this session, he talks with fine artist and author Jonathan Santlofer about the art of visual telling and the appeal of graphic novels, and current projects.

Watch the Video Here


Frances Cha’s debut novel, If I had Your Face, is about four young women navigating early adulthood in modern-day Seoul. It is an unflinching look at how the women, who do not come from wealth or status, pursue their dreams and ambitions in the hyper competitive South Korean capital. In this book chat, Cha contextualizes South Korea’s high beauty standards, rigid social norms, and deeply entrenched old-boy network.

Join Cha in conversation with former journalist Himanee Gupta-Carlson, now Associate Professor at Empire State College, as they explore authenticity and representation of the Asian American experience in literature today.

Watch the Video Here

C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios

Create a simple hand-made book that can be used as a journal or to write your own short masterpiece. No experience required. All materials included.

This program is presented by Saratoga Springs Public Library in memory of children’s author, illustrator, and longtime library trustee Bruce Hiscock. Note: Video for this session is not available. 

Want to know more about craft beer? Join Em Sauter as she guides you through an introductory class in all things beer. How’s beer made? What’s the difference between an ale and a lager? What’s an IPA and why are they everywhere? We’ll discuss everything from the brewing process, beer styles, the right way to taste beer, ingredients and more.

Note: Video for this session is not available. 

“The earth belongs . . . to the living, the dead have neither power nor rights over it.” These famous words, written by Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, reflect the Jefferson’s lifelong belief that each generation ought to write its own Constitution. Madison’s response was that a constitution must endure over several generations to gain the credibility needed to keep a nation strong and united. History tells us that Jefferson lost that debate. But what if he hadn’t? In a Constitution for the Living, Beau Breslin reimagines American history to answer that question. By tracing the story from the 1787 Constitutional Convention up to the present, Breslin presents an engaging and insightful account of historical figures and how they might have shaped their particular generation’s Constitution. Appearing with Breslin is Jamie Malanowski, a former editor of TIME, Spy, and other magazines and the author of the biography, Commander Will Cushing, Daredevil Hero of the Civil War, and two novels, The Coup and Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington. SBF attendees are invited to join the session’s speakers in—appropriately enough—a dimly lit tavern, where over glasses of wine or pints of beer, they can imagine what a Constitutional
Convention might yield today.

Watch the Video Here (please note that due to technical difficulties, this is a partial video)

Nancy Klepsch of Troy Poets, and Thom Francis, President of Albany Poets, host an open mic for attending writers and poets to share two poems, or five minutes of prose, to shine a spotlight on the many local and varied writers working in the greater Saratoga region.

Note: Video for this session is not available. 

Keynote Sessions

Tickets are required to attend either keynote event. Use the button to purchase your tickets today!

For Saratoga Book Festival’s inaugural keynote, bestselling and prize-winning author Joyce Carol Oates speaks with Robert Boyers, Professor of English, editor of Salmagundi Literary Magazine, and director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime
Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the 2019 Jerusalem Prize, and has been several times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Falls,
which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Published in August 2021, her newest book Breathe is an intimately detailed love story, part horror story rooted in real life. The novel is an exploration of unbridled, feral grief determination and the human desire to be faithful to the beloved, and to survive the trauma of loss.

“Fecund with fear and anguish, and driven by raw, breathless narration, this hallucinatory tale
will not disappoint. Oates is on a roll.”

— Publishers Weekly

Robert Boyers is the author of 11 books, the most recent of which is The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy and the Hunt for Political Heresies. The book is a combination of memoir and cultural criticism, which draws upon a lifetime of experience as an editor (Salmagundi Magazine), writing program director (The New York State Summer Writers Institute), college professor and frequent contributor to such national magazines as The Nation, Harpers, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The New Republic. Boyers’ previous books include a book of short stories, a volume of personal essays on the fate of ideas (including authority, the other, beauty, judgment, and fidelity), and several works on the politics of novels and novelists.

Presented in partnership with the New York Summer Writers Institute

Watch the Video Here


Foregone, the newest novel by the acclaimed and bestselling Russell Banks is a searing novel about memory, abandonment, and betrayal.

At the center of Foregone is famed Canadian American leftist documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife, one of sixty thousand draft evaders and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam. Fife, now in his late seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal and has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his
mythologized life. The interview is filmed by his acolyte and ex–star student, Malcolm MacLeod, in the presence of Fife’s wife and alongside Malcolm’s producer, cinematographer, and sound technician, all of whom have long admired Fife but who must now absorb the meaning of his astonishing, dark confession.

Imaginatively structured around Fife’s secret memories and alternating between the experiences of the characters who are filming his confession, the novel challenges our assumptions and understanding about a significant lost chapter in American history and the nature of memory itself. Russell Banks gives us a daring and resonant work about the scope of one man’s mysterious life, revealed through the fragments of his recovered past.

“A challenging, risk-taking work marked by a wry and compassionate intelligence.”
— Kirkus Review

“During a career stretching almost half a century, Russell Banks has published an extraordinary collection of brave, morally imperative novels. The same marrow-delving impulse runs through them all, but otherwise it would be difficult to characterize such a vast and diverse body of work. Banks presents the story of a man tearing through the affections of others in search of a sense of purpose commensurate with his ego . . .In this complex and powerful novel, we come face to face with the excruciating allure of redemption.”
— Washington Post

Before joining Yaddo in 2000, award-winning writer and editor Elaina Richardson was editor-in-chief of Elle magazine. Prior to Elle, she worked for publications in the US and her native Great Britain, including Mirabella, the Guardian and the BBC. She holds an MLitt from Oxford University, an M.A. from the University of Edinburgh, and an honorary doctorate from Kenyon
College, and has written and lectured extensively on 18th-century literature and culture.

Presented in partnership with Yaddo

Watch the Video Here


The Art of the Cocktail, Special Presentation in Partnership with SPAC

Join the Saratoga Book Festival, SPAC, the Action Council and Junior Committee, and for CulinaryArts@SPAC: “The Negroni with Matt Hranek” on Saturday, October 16 , 5:30pm. This event kicks off on the Pines Terrace with hors d’oeuvres by Kim Klopstick of Lily and the Rose, and a flight of Negroni variations by author Matt Hranek and mixologist/co-owner of Hamlet and Ghost Brendan Dillon. WAMC’s Joe Donahue will lead a conversation with Hranek and Dillon, followed by a book signing and audience Q&A.

Note: Video for this session is not available. 

Thank you to our 2021 Cultural & Programming Partners

2021 Saratoga Book Festival
Corporate Sponsors

Bravos & Publishers

Saratoga Arts made this program possible with a Community Arts Grant funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Editors, Agents, & Friends