How Austin proves that Harry Potter still has power

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from the shock of actually receiving a new “Harry Potter” book – and to finish reading it and digest that wondrous plot – we can conclude that, after all these years, the Harry Potter series is still beloved.

At the midnight release party BookPeople threw Saturday for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” about 2,000 people showed up to celebrate the bespectacled wizard and his new adventure. That’s a considerable turnout given that we all thought we’d officially hung up our wizards’ robes for such a party many years ago.

» See more photos from BookPeople’s midnight release party for “The Cursed Child”

BookPeople’s marketing director, Abby Fennewald, said Tuesday evening that the response to the book “was probably higher than we originally anticipated.” The Austin bookstore sold about 75 percent as many copies of “The Cursed Child” at this party as compared to previous midnight release parties, she said; “We’ve already sold over 1,000 copies.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a book in script form about Harry and his troubled son, Albus. (The play is currently in production at London’s West End.) Despite the different format from the previous novels, anxiously waiting Muggles appeared in droves at BookPeople and at Barnes & Noble as well for the release. BookPeople dusted off its old Diagon Alley set and had a variety of magical activities for attendees, including a costume contest, a House Cup Tournament, trivia and wizard dueling.

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

And the food trucks joining the fun in the parking lot also didn’t miss out on the theme: Amy’s Ice Creams, for one, was serving up three wizard-worthy flavors, including butterbeer, Gryffindor’s Tower with red velvet and Dementor’s Cloud with dark chocolate. The line to get butterbeer in drink form at another trailer was also long.

Chatter all around BookPeople’s “Harry Potter” party reflected how happy everyone was to be back together, costumed in their finest Hogwarts’ wizard robes. Kids were there, sure, but the majority of the crowd congregating from 10 p.m. to midnight were the original “Harry Potter” fans, now in their 20s, 30s and beyond.

And for BookPeople, all those enthusiastic fans meant the party was a rousing success.

Has “Cursed Child” turned out to be a worthy follow-up to the original story? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to check out our photo gallery chronicling the “Harry Potter” party at BookPeople.

Crace, Giardina event set for Dec. 3

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Acclaimed authors Jim Crace and Anthony Giardina, who are visiting professors this fall at the University of Texas, will participate in a reading hosted by the Michener Center for Writers at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3.

The event will be held in the Avaya Auditoriaum, POB 2.302, on the UT campus, at the southeast corner of Speedway and 24th streets.

Crace won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for “Harvest, the National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award for “Being Dead” and has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, for “Quarentine” and “Harvest.”  His archive is at U.T.’s Ransom Center.

Giardina has written five novels, including “Norumbega Park” and “White Guys.” He’s also a playwright, whose most recent work, “The City of Conversation,” premiered at the Lincoln Center in 2014.

Parking is available in the nearby UT San Jacinto Garage, and the event is free and open to the public.

 

 

Kirkus awards prizes to Yanagihara, Coates, Ryan

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FILE Ñ Ta-Nehisi Coates, the national correspondent for The Atlantic, in Baltimore, July 16, 2015. While CoatesÕ works on being black in America have won great acclaim, he also has a not-so-secret identity as a Marvel Comics superfan, and has aged to helm a new series about Black Panther, the first black superhero, for the comics publisher. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times)
FILE Ñ Ta-Nehisi Coates, the national correspondent for The Atlantic, in Baltimore, July 16, 2015. While CoatesÕ works on being black in America have won great acclaim, he also has a not-so-secret identity as a Marvel Comics superfan, and has aged to helm a new series about Black Panther, the first black superhero, for the comics publisher. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times)
Author Hanya Yanagihara poses with her book 'A Little Life' on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Yanagihara is one of six short-listed authors for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  The winner will be announced Tuesday Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Author Hanya Yanagihara poses with her book ‘A Little Life’ on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Yanagihara is one of six short-listed authors for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The winner will be announced Tuesday Oct. 13. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Hanya Yanagihara, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pam Muñoz Ryan won the annual Kirkus Prizes on Thursday night at a ceremony in Austin.

Each of the winners gets $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize, presented by Austin-based Kirkus Reviews, one of the largest in the world.

Yanagihira won the fiction prize for her novel, “A Little Life,” which deals with four men who were college roommates and are dealing with personal demons as adults. Yanagihara, who is of Hawaiian ancestry and works at the New York Times, is a finalist for the National Book Award, and was among the finalists for the Man Booker Prize, which went to Marlon James of Jamaica earlier this week.

The judges described it as “a profound inquiry into the possibility — and impossibility — of redemption.”

Coates won the nonfiction prize for his best-selling “Between the World and Me,” a memoir about race, written as a letter to his son. Coates, a national correspondent at the Atlantic, is also a finalist in nonfiction for the National Book Award. Those awards will be announced Nov. 18 in New York.

The judges described Coates’ book as a “formidable literary achievement and a crucial, urgent, and nuanced contribution to a long-overdue national conversation.”

Ryan, a California native and full-time writer, won the young readers literature prize for “Echo,” a middle-grade novel about the healing power of music. She has written more than 40 books and lives near San Diego.

“Narratives intertwine through a singular musical instrument—the harmonica—celebrating the power of music to uplift and unite us across time and culture,” the judges said of “Echo.”

The Kirkus Prize was created in 2014 to celebrate eight decades of criticism from Kirkus Reviews. In prize money, it tops the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, whose winners get $10,000. The Booker Prize, which is based in Britain, provides 50,000 British pounds, or about $77,000.

The Kirkus Prize comes as the Texas Book Festival gears up to celebrate its 20th year this weekend at the state Capitol and on surrounding grounds. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, and is free and open to the public.

Texas Book Festival releases schedule

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

The Texas Book Festival released its schedule on Thursday, with details on more than 300 authors and dozens of panels on Oct. 17 and 18.

The complete schedule is at www.texasbookfestival.org/festival-schedule.

In addition to the regular panels and readings, the festival will feature two days of live music, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, Lit Crawl Austin and more.

Highlights for Saturday, Oct. 17, include:

Margaret Atwood talks about her new dystopian novel, “The Heart Goes Last” at 10 a.m. in the House Chamber.

Chuck Plahniuk presents a two-hour variety show with special guest Lidia Yukanavitch at 1 p.m. at the Paramount.

Stephan Pastis discusses the highs and lows of Detective Timmy Failure’s careet at 2 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.

And at 2:30 p.m. in the House Chamber, Taye Diggs and illustrator Shane Evans talk about their new children’s book “Mixed Me!”

The American-Statesman is publishing a complete guide to the festival on Sunday, Oct. 11. In the meantime, you can begin making plans to attend the event, which is held in the Capitol and on the surrounding grounds, by looking at the online schedule.

The festival is free and open to the public.

Jesmyn Ward reading set Sept. 24 at UT

Author Jesmyn Ward. Credit: Tony Cook
Author Jesmyn Ward. Credit: Tony Cook

Jesmyn Ward, the 2011 National Book Award winner for “Salvage the Bones,” will participate in a reading at the UT Michener Center for Writers at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Blanton Auditorium on campus.

“Salvage the Bones” is widely considered to be the first great novel about Hurricane Katrina, which Ward experienced. Her lates, “Men We Reaped,” deals with five years in the lives of her brother and four other black who died of drugs, suicide, accidents and bad luck in her hometown of DeLisle, Miss. The book was shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

After the reading, Ward will discuss race, poverty and Southern storytelling with Michener Center director James Magnuson and Jennifer Wilks of the UT English Department and the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies.

The Blanton Auditorium is in the Edgar A. Smith Building in the Blanton Museum complex at MLK and Congress Avenue. The reading is free, requires no tickets, and is open to students and the public.  Parking is available in the nearby Brazos Garage.

Elvis Costello coming to BookPeople Oct. 20

June 19, 2014: ATLANTA -- Elvis Costello solo performance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)
June 19, 2014: ATLANTA — Elvis Costello solo performance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

Elvis Costello will discuss his new memoir, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

The acclaimed musician will be in conversation with Evan Smith. Tickets, which are available at BookPeople, are required for the event and include a presigned copy of the memoir.

The memoir tracks his rise to music success and tells stories about his co-writers. But it also includes details about the less-appealing side of musical fame.

He also discusses the process or writing and recording such legendary albums like “My Aim Is True,” “This Year’s Model,” “Almost Blue,” “Imperial Bedroom” and “King of America.”

BookPeople’s event with Elvis Costello is one of several major author events hosted by the Austin store this fall. Events with John Irving, Mitch Albom, Nigella Lawson, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Karr, Chelsea Clinton and many others have already been announced. Visit bookpeople.com for a full calendar of upcoming events.

Texas Teen Book Festival announces lineup

More than 4,000 fans of young adult books are expected to attend the Texas Teen Book Festival on the campus of St. Edward's University Sept. 26.
More than 4,000 fans of young adult books are expected to attend the Texas Teen Book Festival on the campus of St. Edward’s University Sept. 26.

The Texas Teen Book Festival has announced more than 30 authors who’ll appear at its annual event, which takes place this year on Sept. 26 on the campus of St. Edward’s University.

The keynote speaker is Emmy Award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano, best known for her role as Maria on the PBS series “Sesame Street.” After more than four decades on the show, Manzano announced her retirement last month and will present her latest work, a coming-of-age memoir titled “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.” She’ll speak from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Other authors include Rick Yancey (“The 5th Wave”), Kaui Hart Hemmings (“The Descendants”), Jess Andrews (“Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl”), David Levithan (“Another Day”) and Libba Bray (“Lair of Dreams.”

The festival, which is expected to attract more than 4,000 young adult book readers, starts at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 26 and continues until 6:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

For a complete schedule, visit http://www.texasteenbookfestival.org.

This year, the festival is hosting, for the first time, the Texas Teen Book Festival Writing Contest. It’s sponsored by Delacorte Press, and there were 55 entries. Three winners will be announced Sept. 1, and each will receive feedback from Delacorte editors and be honored during opening ceremonies Sept. 26.

Also, Topher Bradfield of BookPeople will host this year’s Texas Throwdown Game Show, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The  show will feature Claudia Gray (“Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), Pierce Brown (the “Red Rising” trilogy), Jenny Han (“P.S. I Still Love You”), Aaron Hartzler (“What We Saw”), Cindy Pon (“Serpentine”) and Gareth Hinds (“Macbeth”).

Badgerdog Literary Publishing sessions of note include the Poetry Workshop with Carrie Fountain, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Fiction Workshop with Callie Collins, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., both of which take place in Library Classroom 1.

The festival is a collaboration of the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, library volunteers and St. Edward’s University. The program is also made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sandra Brown coming to BookPeople Aug. 20

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Arlington writer Sandra Brown, who’s one of the best-known romantic suspense writers, will be reading from her latest, “Friction,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Brown has had 67 New York Times best-sellers, with more than 80 million copies of her books in print.

“Friction” focuses on Crawford Hunt, a Texas Ranger who wants his daughter back after losing custody.

Crawford went into a spiral after his wife’s death four years ago, but wants to get custody of 5-year-old Georgia back from her grandparents.

Judge Holly Spencer will rule on the custody battle. And Holly is wary of Crawford’s past. But when a gunman storms into the courtroom during the custody hearing, Crawford saves Holly from a bullet.

But the gunman escapes and Crawford tries to catch the person. Complications ensue, endangering Crawford’s custody hearing.

Wristbands are required to join the BookPeople signing line and are available at BookPeople beginning 9 a.m. Aug. 20.

Author of book on Scientology to visit Austin Saturday

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Tony Ortega, a journalist who was featured in the HBO documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” will be in Austin this Saturday to promote his new book, “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.”

The book is about Paulette Cooper and the harassment she faced from the Church of Scientology after she wrote a book about the religious group in 1971. Cooper was sued more than a dozen times by the church.

Ortega is a former editor at the Village Voice and has been writing about Scientology for 20 years.

The documentary “Going Clear,” in which he appeared, was directed by Alex Gibney and based on the reporting of Austin writer Lawrence Wright.

Ortega’s appearance is being sponsored by the Center for Inquiry-Austin. He’ll appear at 3 p.m. Saturday at Café Express, 3418 North Lamar Blvd.

Elvis Costello returning to Austin for book tour in October

Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello

For fans of Elvis Costello, who’s in town with Steely Dan this weekend, you might want to know that he’s coming back to Austin in October to promote his new memoir, “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink.”

His publicist at Blue Rider Press says he’ll be coming to BookPeople at 7 p.m. Oct. 20.

The publicist says that Costello deals with childhood and youth and his early exposure to music in the first part, then goes into a chronology of the lift-off and burn-out of his core pop career. The latter part is a series of essays considering various muscial collaboration, concluding with the loss of his father and the rewards of recent years.