Book Festival Brings Patterson, Albom, Orlean, More to FAU

After four years in the West Palm Beach market, the Palm Beach Book Festival has migrated southward, to the confines of FAU’s University Theatre in Boca Raton.

Major authors in the worlds of crime fiction, literary fiction, memoir and reportage will descend on the university on Saturday, March 16, in the fifth incarnation of the festival founded by part-time Palm Beacher Lois Cahall.

The move to Boca was fortuitous for both Cahall and FAU, says Michael Horswell, dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters: “The Palm Beach Book Festival was looking for a permanent home, so we piloted a collaboration with Cahall by bringing Erica Jong last year. It was a sold-out event with great positive feedback, so we moved toward bringing the full festival to FAU this year. … This could not have been possible without the generous support of our College Advisory Board Chair, Marta Batmasian, whose family foundation is underwriting the FAU festival.”

The festival will be divided into five discussions beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday with two Oprah’s Book Club-selected authors. Tayari Jones, who has been chronicling the African-American experience in her native Atlanta for four widely praised novels, most recently penned An American Marriage, about a black couple whose lives are upended when the husband is arrested for a crime he did not commit; the book made President Obama’s 2018 Summer Reading List. She’ll be joined by Idra Novey, poet and novelist behind a pair of politically resonant thrillers, whose latest is Those Who Knew, about a senator’s misdeeds before and after his aide is suspiciously hit by a bus. Leigh Haber, books editor for Oprahmagazine, will moderate.

Susan Orlean

The second panel, at 11 a.m., welcomes Susan Orlean, the acclaimed investigate journalist who was portrayed—with liberties taken—by Meryl Streep in 2002’s Adaptation. Praised for The Orchid Thief, an account of Florida orchid grower John Laroche’s arrest for poaching the rare and seductive plant from a local preserve; and for Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend; Orlean’s latest tome, The Library Book, revisits the mysterious 1986 fire that destroyed 400,000 books in the Los Angeles Public Library. Christopher Bonanos, city editor at New Yorkmagazine, will moderate the discussion.

Panel No. 3, at 12:15 p.m., will feature James Patterson, the world’s most lucrative novelist, whose 10 bazillion books have made something like 100 bazillion dollars. The creator of the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett series, Patterson is known for his unorthodox collaborations, most recently with President Bill Clinton on the thriller The President is Missing. Patterson will discuss his work and his passion for literacy and philanthropy with Rob Scheer, the founder of the charitable nonprofit Comfort Cases.

Following a break for lunch, the festival returns at 2 p.m. with “Big Bens! Authors in Conversation.” Boston Globeeditor Ben Bradlee Jr., famously portrayed by actor John Slattery in the Oscar winner Spotlight, about his paper’s crusading coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, has also written the definitive biography of Ted Williams. His latest book is The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America. He’ll join the panel with a fellow “Ben,” Ben Fountain, whose striking debut novel, the antiwar satire Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, was filmed in 2015 by Ang Lee. Like Bradlee, his latest book, Beautiful Country Burn Again, is a nonfiction account of the most recent presidential election, its historical precedents and its ominous aftershocks.

Mitch Albom

The event concludes at 3:20 p.m. with Mitch Albom, whose debut, Tuesdays with Morrie, is the best-selling memoir of all-time. Many of Albom’s later books would be best-sellers as well, combining insight and inspiration in For One More Day, Have a Little Faithand The Five People You Meet in Heaven, whose sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, was released in 2018.

For tickets and more information, call 561/297-6124 or visit