Last Look

The New York State Writers Institute’s Inaugural Book Festival

Best selling mystery writers participate in panel discussion on stage.
Best-selling mystery writers Laura Lippman, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Find, and Walter Mosley, from left, participate in a panel discussion about mystery writing. Writers Institute Mark Koplik moderated the panel.

Five thousand voracious readers made their way to the University’s Campus Center last fall for The New York State Writers Institute’s inaugural Albany Book Festival.

Held Sept. 29, the event combined appearances by local and national authors, publishers, and booksellers with panel discussions; book signings; and other activities, including children’s programming. Notable literati attending included Doris Kearns Goodwin; Walter Mosley; Annette Gordon-Reed; Khizr Khan; Jonathan Santlofer; Radha Agrawal; and UAlbany alumnus Gregory Maguire, B.A.’76, author of the popular Wicked series. Institute founder William Kennedy signed copies of the recently published Bootlegger of the Soul: The Literary Legacy of William Kennedy.  

Paul Grondahl, director of the Writers Institute, noted: “Fall book festivals are a fixture in vibrant American cities from Miami to Los Angeles. As one of the nation’s premier literary presenting organizations, we feel that now is the time for the Writers Institute to create the inaugural Albany Book Festival. We want to capitalize on Albany’s grand literary tradition while welcoming diverse communities of people to campus in a family-friendly, fun-filled event that shows off some of our University’s finest assets.” 

Grondahl added that the festival was envisioned as a way to bring “book lovers of all ages from across the Capital Region” together with the University community to “honor the transformative power of great literature, celebrate the craft of acclaimed writers, discuss important topics in the national dialogue,” and highlight the unifying nature of books.