The Six Bridges Book Festival is back October 20–30! Named for the six bridges that connect the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock, the festival bridges communities and brings people together.
The 11-day event celebrates reading, literacy, stories, and wordsmithing. Scores of nationally known authors converge on the city to offer panels on a wide variety of topics, from cooking demonstrations to award-winning comedy. Authors also venture out into the community for efforts such as Writers in the Schools, bringing the joy of writing to hundreds of students in central Arkansas.
You can view the entire schedule on the official festival website, but here are 10 events that every booklover should plan to attend.
Oct. 20, 10 am: Charly Palmer at the Clinton Presidential Library
Charly Palmer is an award-winning fine artist, illustrator, and graphic designer who has illustrated seven acclaimed children’s books. In his author-illustrator debut, The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale, Palmer spins a tall tale about a neighborhood streetball hero.
Oct. 20, 7 pm: Rooftop Party!
Kick into major festival mode with this rooftop party, featuring electrifying tunes and a bold light display.
Oct. 21, 6:30 pm: Pub or Perish at The Library Kitchen + Lounge
One of the few events that has been around since the beginning of the Fest…this popular event features libations and literature shaken and stirred. What a mix! Limited open mic slots available.
Oct. 22, 2:30 pm: Lydia Conklin + Lee Mandelo at the Darragh Center at CALS Main Library
Lydia Conklin is an assistant professor of fiction at Vanderbilt University. In their hilarious and heartrending story collection Rainbow, Rainbow, Conklin explores the complexity of our current moment by focusing on queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming characters seeking love and connection.
Lee Mandelo is a writer, critic, and occasional editor whose fields of interest include speculative and queer fiction, especially when the two coincide. Summer Sons weaves codependent college boys, fast cars, dark inheritances, and academic intrigue together with equal parts spooky ghost story and exploration of grief and masculinity.
Oct. 29, 11:30 am: Lan Samantha Chang + Oscar Hokeah at Ron Robinson Theatre
Award-winning author Lan Samantha Chang is director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In The Family Chao, an Asian American family becomes embroiled in a restaurant succession drama that ultimately leads to murder and the entire town’s scrutiny of the Chaos, who realize they are alienated from their community— no matter how American they might have thought themselves to be.
Award-winning short-story author and novelist Oscar Hokeah, who is a citizen of Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from his mother’s side and has Latinx heritage through his father, is a scholar in creative writing and Native American literature/ studies. In the debut novel Calling for a Blanket Dance, an exploration of the power of tribalism and its never-ending task to heal residuals of colonial violence, Ever Geimausaddle faces a series of opportunities to either heal generational trauma or intensify it.
Oct. 29, 1 pm: Kim Fu + Kevin Brockmeier at the Darragh Center at CALS Main Library
Award-winning novelist and short-story author Kim Fu lives in Seattle. In the twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange, with each story building a new world all its own.
Little Rock native Kevin Brockmeier has appeared at the festival each year since its inception. In The Ghost Variations, one hundred thought provoking ghost stories explore the afterlife in playful, chilling, and philosophical ways.
Oct. 29, 4 pm: Evolving American South Cooking Workshop at Roosevelt Thompson Library
James Beard award winner Vishwesh Bhatt captures the “evolving American South” in his debut cookbook, I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes From a Southern Chef. Included in NPR’s ‘Books We Love in 2022’, this dazzling blend of stories, photos and recipes makes the compelling case for a Southern cuisine defined by inclusion, innovation and tradition. Bhatt will cook something “unpretentious, inventive and incredibly delicious” for the group to sample. Limited seating. Tickets are available here for $15.
Oct. 29, 8 pm: False Negative: An Evening with John Waters at Ron Robinson Theatre
Waters’ rapid-fire one man “vaudeville” act is updated and expanded from the original film version that enjoyed critical success at the Edinburgh, Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals. The live performance focuses on Waters’ early negative artistic influences, his fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, the extremes of the art world, Catholicism, sexual deviancy, and a love of reading.
Following the show, Waters will sign copies of his new book, Liarmouth. Masks will be required that evening.
Oct. 30, 4 pm: Pie Contest at The Root Café
The reemergence of pie. For the Traditional Pie Bake-Off and Recipe Swap be at the Root Café at 3:30 p.m. with your best pie and copies of the recipe. Prizes.
Oct. 30, 4 pm: Classic in Context: The Shining Discussion with John Hornor Jacobs at Ron Robinson Theatre
Stephen King’s The Shining closes the 2022 Fest and gets you in the mood for Halloween. Horror writer John Hornor Jacobs—a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award—gives some interesting background on King’s popular book. Following that, watch Stanley Kubrick’s classic film adaptation at 6 pm.