The Believer Festival announces its 2019 lineup featuring Tommy Orange, Kiese Laymon, Jill Soloway and Reggie Watts


The Believer, the bimonthly literary magazine, announced the lineup for its third annual Las Vegas arts festival on Wednesday, with authors Tommy Orange, Kiese Laymon and Mira Jacob among those scheduled to appear.

The Believer Festival revealed the lineup exclusively to The Times. The event, which is hosted by the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will be held from April 25 through April 27.

Several high-profile authors are slated to attend the festival, including Orange, author of the critically acclaimed novel “There There”; Laymon, whose memoir “Heavy” recently won an Andrew Carnegie Medal; and Jacob, author of the forthcoming graphic memoir “Good Talk.”


Hanif Abdurraqib, the poet and essayist whose book about A Tribe Called Quest, “Go Ahead in the Rain,” was released this month, will also be featured, along with poets Natalie Diaz and Eryn Green.

Other invited writers include Valeria Luiselli (the forthcoming “Lost Children Archive”), Lesley Nneka Arimah (“What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky”), Lolita Hernandez (“Making Callaloo in Detroit”)and Ahmed Naji (“Using Life”).

Two guests who have been active in social justice movements will attend: Black Lives Matter Canada co-founder Janaya Khan and feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian.

From the world of television and music, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway, singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen and “The Late Show With James Corden” bandleader Reggie Watts are also scheduled to make appearances. Rounding out the announced schedule are USC Annenberg School of Communication director Josh Kun and “The Organist” podcaster Andrew Leland.

The first Believer Festival was held in 2017, the same year the Black Mountain Institute acquired the Believer magazine from McSweeney’s, which had published it since its founding in 2003.


Like the previous two festivals, this year’s event has a theme: “La Frontera” (“the border”). “La Frontera will probe the urgent questions of actual physical borders, and challenge and inspire the community to reconsider borders of our fixed conceptions and rigid ideas,” the festival organizers said in a news release.

Joshua Wolf Shenk, the artistic and executive director of the Black Mountain Institute, said the goal of the festival is to try to unite the community to “divine a creative oasis.”

“The Believer Festival is an offering of wonder and transformation to the audience, to the community and to the friends we welcome from out of town,” Shenk said.

The Believer Festival will be held at several locations in Las Vegas. Tickets will go on sale on Feb. 15 at the festival’s website,