Tickets on sale for Literary Sojourn on Sept. 10 |

Tickets on sale for Literary Sojourn on Sept. 10

Jennie Lay
Literary Sojourn Festival Director

The Bud Werner Library’s nonprofit festival of authors is just two weeks away, and for the first time in well over a decade, it’s not quite sold out. Limited tickets are still available for Literary Sojourn — until they’re not.

Local book-loving procrastinators, this is a rare opportunity that you’ve longed for. It’s also a perfect chance to introduce Steamboat’s beloved book fest to new community members.

Literary Sojourn has been the library’s signature event since it took root in 1993 as a homegrown dream of bringing noteworthy authors to our rural mountain community. Since its inception, Sojourn’s lineup of authors has included more than 150 recipients and nominees of the world’s top literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker and the National Book Award.

The lineup for Sept. 10 includes this year’s National Book Award winner, Jason Mott, along with Omar El Akkad, Gary Shteyngart, Claire Vaye Watkins and Karen Joy Fowler as master of ceremonies.

The half-day festival, which starts at 1 p.m., features individual talks by all five authors sharing backstories of inspiration, craft and characters in their published works.

It’s the recipe for a perfect Saturday in Steamboat: Spend the morning feeding your body with coffee, farmer’s market shopping, a cruise down the bike path and a hike to the quarry; then nourish your mind all afternoon with escapism served up by award-winning authors.

A late afternoon break on the lawn includes a Yampavore box filled with sweet and savory delicacies made in Steamboat, then the Sojourn concludes with book signings and a casual chat with the authors. You’ll be off to sunset happy hour before you know it — and surely filled with the best dinner party conversation fodder of the summer.

From a librarian’s perspective, Literary Sojourn is the manifestation of a mission for enrichment, education and escape for everyone — curated through book lust.

From a book lover’s perspective, Sojourn’s magic is the in-person, ephemeral exchange with some of the finest storytellers of our time. There will be no recordings or virtual attendees. The experience is intimate inside the Strings Pavilion, broken only by late summer breezes and murmurs of astonishment from the audience.

And my personal take? Literary Sojourn remains my single favorite day of the year in Steamboat. After a two-year pandemic pause, I can barely contain my anticipation for our live reunion.

If you don’t believe me, listen to past authors who swoon over Sojourn.

“Literary Sojourn is a rare event,” Ethan Canin said. “Rare in its warmth, rare in its beauty, rare in the love of books that one feels everywhere in this splendid place.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr raved, “You get to experience a singular day where literature is the most important thing in the room. I left Steamboat Springs energized and deeply grateful.”

Longtime local favorite Pam Houston called Sojourn, “The best show in the West — this is one class act.”

But their reading lists are so long, you worry.

Mark that thought as an asset to revisit after the event, not a liability to deter you from jumping in for the day. No one needs to have read the books to enjoy Literary Sojourn. This is a joyful mind-expanding experience, not a test.

Also, it’s unavoidable that the stories these authors share will spur a long wish list of books you can’t wait to dive in and read after the event. Thank goodness you have a library with every single one of their books available to loan for free, and an incredible independent bookstore in Off the Beaten Path that’s selling books on site at the Sojourn and able to stock your personal library with these books all year long from their downtown shop.

For ambitious readers who are now inspired to read like crazy for two weeks before they meet the authors, they can start their must-read list with “Hell of a Book” by Mott, “Booth” by Fowler, “What Strange Paradise” by El Akkad, “Our Country Friends” by Shteyngart, and “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness” by Watkins.

It’s a wildly diverse lineup, and the library can hardly wait to discuss all these brilliant novels with readers after getting the inside scoop from the authors on Sept. 10.

If you go

What: Literary Sojourn Festival of Authors

When: 1-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, followed by a casual book signing

Where: Strings Pavilion, 950 Strings Road

Info: $75 ticket includes late afternoon snack. For more,

Jason Mott, author of “Hell of a Book,” this year’s National Book Award winner
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Literary Sojourn master of ceremonies Karen Joy Fowler is the author of the new historical novel “Booth,” a Man Booker and PEN/Faulkner finalist, Nebula Award winner and past Sojourn author.
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Author and journalist Omar El Akkad’s recent novel “What Strange Paradise” won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and his bestselling debut “American War” was a multi-award winner and selected by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.
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Russian-born author Gary Shteyngart is the author of “Our Country Friends,” “Lake Success,” “Super Sad True Love Story,” and other stories of blistering humor and satirical takedowns of contemporary society.
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Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness,” “Gold Fame Citrus” and the short story collection “Battleborn.” She is also a winner of the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree.
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