How to watch this week’s Festival of Books with Marilynne Robinson, Hector Tobar and others

Author Marilynne Robinson will be joined by journalist and writer Hector Tobar during the 2020 Festival of Books.
Author Marilynne Robinson will be joined by journalist and writer Hector Tobar for a conversation during the 2020 Festival of Books.
(Ulf Andersen / Getty Images)

Welcome to the final stretch of the 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories and Ideas!

This week’s lineup includes conversations with USC professors Sam Erman, Ariela Gross, Kristen Zaleski and Alaina Morgan; Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Marilynne Robinson and Héctor Tobar; and more. Next week, sportscaster Jim Gray will be joined by Times’ executive sports editor Chris Stone.

All events are free. Due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration of the written word is virtual. For 25 days, writers, poets, artists, storytellers and bookstore exhibitors are featured in 25 panels and readings — all viewable from the comfort of your home.


Here’s what’s happening this week and how to tune in:

The 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories & Ideas kicks off this weekend. Due to the pandemic, this year’s series of free events will be virtual. Here’s everything you need to know about how to tune in.

The lineup

Monday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.: How are corrupt systems organized and how have they shaped our government today? How are ordinary Americans affected by the rich and powerful? Can we close the racial wealth gap? Journalists and scholars Mehrsa Baradaran, Sarah Chayes and Jennifer Taub will address these questions, with Times D.C. Bureau Chief Kimbriell Kelly moderating.

Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.: Who gets to be a citizen in the Land of the Free? A panel of experts in law, history and social work will talk through historical and contemporary obstacles faced by marginalized people in the U.S. and the paths toward empowerment. Featuring USC professors Sam Erman, Ariela Gross and Kristen Zaleski, moderated by history professor Alaina Morgan.

Thursday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m.: Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the fictional world of Gilead, Iowa, with “Jack,” the fourth novel in the Gilead series. Robinson talks with Héctor Tobar, a journalist, novelist and author of the new book “The Last Great Road Bum.”

Friday, Nov. 13 at noon: Here we are — more than half a year into the pandemic, with infection rates higher than ever. What do we know, what went wrong and how can we do better? Hear from the experts: science journalist Debora MacKenzie, prize-winning author-journalist Sonia Shah and sociologist, physician and author Nicholas Christakis, with Times healthcare reporter Soumya Karlamangla moderating.

Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.: For the final event of the festival, Jim Gray, Emmy Award-winning sportscaster and host of Westwood One’s Monday Night Football shows, looks back at four decades of sports reporting in his new memoir “Talking to GOATs.” Gray will discuss his new book with Times executive sports editor Chris Stone.

Kurt Andersen, The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens and Stephen Miller biographer Jean Guerrero talked presidential politics and the future of the GOP in an anxious, sobering panel at the 2020 virtual Times Festival of Books.

How to watch

Register ahead of time for each event at You’ll receive an email reminder 48 hours in advance with a link to watch the event.

For more details and information, go to Follow the festival on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Questions can be submitted during registration.


In case you missed last week’s events, festival book talks are available for viewing on YouTube. Author and award-winning public radio host Kurt Andersen joined Emmy-winning KPBS reporter and New York Times contributor Jean Guerrero, GOP strategist and Lincoln Project senior advisor Stuart Stevens, and Times editorial page editor Sewell Chan for a conversation about presidential politics. Times columnist Sandy Banks moderated a panel with Black authors Emily Bernard, Morgan Jerkins and Frank Wilderson. Novelist Elissa Sussman spoke with authors Jasmine Guillory, Casey McQuiston and Rebekah Weatherspoon about their romance novels. BFA students from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance performed debut pieces as well as masterworks by world-renowned choreographers.