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Wisconsin Book Festival focuses on diversity, local voices in national conversations

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In the midst of anti-police protests and a polarized social climate, The Wisconsin Book Festival will feature many events hosted by authors of color as well as many books on the subject of race and race-related topics.

The Wisconsin Book Festival, in partnership with the Madison Public Library Foundation, will host its yearly celebration this October 15-17. However, the festival is a year-long event, with events spanning from February through early December.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be hosted online via Crowdcast.

Conor Moran, the director of the Wisconsin Book Festival, said that he is constantly asking himself how to make the content of the Wisconsin book festival relevant to what is happening in the country.

“I’m always kind of guided by, what are the national conversations that Wisconsin should have a voice in?” Moran said.

Moran notes that he is working to ensure that Wisconsin, specifically Wisconsin readers, can be a part of that conversation. As such, Moran and his constituents have made the Wisconsin Book Festival an avenue in which attendees can learn about the issues that are currently dominating the national and global stage

“We have had a goal of being as inclusive as we can be, while still offering the same high-quality events,” said Moran

Moran also noted that as a person in his position, with his level stake in the Madison community, he has a duty to provide his audience with a diverse group of perspectives.

“I think that anyone who wants to present the kind of swath of ‘ideas’ and thinking that we have [at the Wisconsin Book Festival] has the responsibility to be as representative of the breadth of what those ideas and thinking might be,” he said. “Whether that’s the individual takes the people that we have, people that we invite, or the types of books that we try to promote.”

The festival will feature a number of immigrant authors and authors of color, including Paola Ramos with her soon to be published book, Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity and Laila Lalami’s new book, Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America.

The Wisconsin Book Festival also has many community partners like Madison College, who provide suggestions and pitches on various books to be featured during the festival. These partnerships not only allow for community interests to be voiced in the spotlight the Wisconsin Book Festival provides but also give space for historically underrepresented voices to be heard, said Moran.

Beyond the October celebration, Moran and those at the Madison Public Library Foundation are continuing to make the Wisconsin Book Festival a place were BIPOC voices can be elevated.

“Voicing [the interests of Madison’s BIPOC community] and making it a part, an explicit part of what we do is important,” Moran said.

This content was originally published here.

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