L.A. Times Book Prizes and Festival of Books kick off this week. Here’s how to watch

41st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony

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We’re back! The second pandemic edition of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories & Ideas kicks off this weekend, beginning with a virtual ceremony announcing the winners of the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prizes.

This year’s 26th celebration of the written word begins with the Book Prize announcements April 16 at 5 p.m. Tune in on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

The festival proper opens April 17 at 10 a.m. with the help of USC’s President Carol L. Folt, featuring surprise appearances by Times writers and a performance by the USC Trojan Marching Band. Times columnist Patt Morrison will moderate.


This year’s events will be virtual again, with more than 30 panels, readings and one-on-one conversations over seven days from writers, poets, artists, storytellers and bookstore exhibitors. Most of the events are free, but a few will require a book purchase. Below is a small sampling of events, followed by everything you need to know about how to tune in:

Panelists will include Zooey Deschanel, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Don Lemon, Lulu Miller, Walter Mosley, Deesha Philyaw and Meena Harris.

April 15, 2021

April 17

10:30 a.m.: Guy Raz, Mindy Thomas, Zooey Deschanel: Based on their No. 1 kids podcast, “Wow in the World,” hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz take young readers on a hilarious, fact-filled, illustrated journey through the human body. Featuring jokes, photos, quizzes and experiments, this book has everything you need to better understand your own walking, talking, barfing, breathing, pooping body of WOW! Times TV writer Yvonne Villarreal will host a conversation with Raz, Thomas and Zooey Deschanel. Register here.

A year of isolation left us with a wealth of words. Hear from the poets, historians and fiction writers who gave us the most powerful books of 2020

April 11, 2021

11 a.m.: Immigrants and American society, a historical look: A timely discussion of immigration in America looks back on our history and brings us to the present day. Panelists are Anthony Cody, a 2020 Book Prize finalist in poetry; Adam Goodman, author, historian and professor of Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois Chicago; Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, poet, activist and author of “Children of the Land”; and Jia Lynn Yang, Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy national editor at the New York Times. Daniel Hernandez, L.A. Times culture writer, will moderate. Register here.

Yusef Salaam sits in front of a brick wall
Yusef Salaam, whose book, “Punching the Air,” with Ibi Zoboi, is a finalist for a Times Book Prize in young-adult literature.
(Staci Nurse)

Noon: Young-adult fiction: The Black experience: These powerful coming-of-age novels, all written in lyrical verse, are fierce, profound and beautiful explorations of identity, race, wrongful incarceration, the power of drag and much more. Hannah Gómez, a judge in YA literature for the L.A. Times Book Prizes, will moderate a conversation with Dean Atta, Morgan Parker, Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi. Register here.

4 p.m.: James Patterson discusses his new Audible original drama, “The Coldest Case”: In an audio-exclusive experience, actors Aaron Paul, Krysten Ritter and Nathalie Emmanuel perform the latest from James Patterson. “The Coldest Case: A Black Book Audio Drama” is the long-awaited prequel to Patterson’s No. 1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller “The Black Book.” L.A. Times Book Club Editor Donna Wares will moderate. Register here.

Meena Harris smiles at the camera
Meena Harris addresses viewers during the virtual Democratic National Convention in 2020.
(DNCC via Getty Images)

April 18

10 a.m.: Meena Harris, author of “Ambitious Girl,” in conversation with Mary McNamara: Anyone who’s ever been underestimated or overshadowed will find inspiration in this new picture book from Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Harris. When a girl sees a woman on TV labeled as “too assertive” and “too ambitious,” it sends her on a journey through the past, present and future, focused on the ways women and girls can reframe and reclaim words meant to knock them down. Register here.

1 p.m.: Andrew O’Hagan, author of “Mayflies,” and Douglas Stuart, author of “Shuggie Bain”: Two award-winning Scottish authors discuss their semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novels with Times staff writer Anousha Sakoui. “Mayflies” and “Shuggie Bain” are tender, beautiful portraits of a time and a place — 1980s Scotland — that will captivate readers. Register here.

A guest at this year’s virtual Times Festival of Books, the Scottish writer discusses his Booker Prize-winning novel’s difficult story — and his own.

April 7, 2021

3 p.m.: The Black experience across genres: S.A. Cosby, Danielle Evans, Nikky Finney and Robert Jones Jr. will join UCLA sociologist Marcus Anthony Hunter for a conversation about their works spanning fiction, crime fiction, short stories and poetry, which all address the Black experience and larger issues of culture and history. Register here.

Richard Thompson holds a guitar
Richard Thompson will talk about his book “Beeswing: Loosing My Way and Finding My Voice” with RJ Smith.
(David Kaptein)

April 19

5 p.m.: Richard Thompson, “Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975”: Richard Thompson, beloved music legend, re-creates the spirit of the 1960s, where he found, and then lost, and then found his way again. Known for his brilliant songwriting, extraordinary guitar playing and haunting voice, Thompson is considered one of the top guitarists of all time alongside Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Randy Newman. Now, in his long-awaited memoir, he takes us back to a period of great change and creativity. RJ Smith will join him in conversation for this paid ticketed event. (And Thompson will play two songs.) Register here.


Richard Thompson’s new memoir, “Beeswing,” was written with journalist Scott Timberg, who died before the book was completed.

April 6, 2021

April 20

Noon: Don Lemon, “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism”: The host of “CNN Tonight With Don Lemon” — America’s only Black prime-time TV anchor — will bring an urgent, riveting, deeply personal plea. Times staff writer Greg Braxton will join him for a conversation about where our problems lie and what we can do to to fix them. Register here.

5 p.m.: Native American literature: A panel paying homage to Leslie Marmon Silko, 2020 Robert Kirsch Award winner: Acclaimed novelist, poet and essayist Leslie Marmon Silko is known for her lyric treatment of Native American subjects. In recognition of her lifetime achievement, authors Danielle Geller, Brandon Hobson and David Heska Wanbli Weiden will discuss their works and 21st century Native literature. Register here.

 Leslie Marmon Silko stands against a wall and smiles.
Leslie Marmon Silko
(Penguin Classics)

April 22

5 p.m.: Terry Crews and Rebecca King Crews, creators of the Audible original “Stronger Together”: “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews and his wife, singer Rebecca King Crews, will share the ups and downs of their relationship and how they weathered the crises that rocked their marriage in their new Audible original. Honest, intimate and hopeful, Terry and Rebecca make you feel that if they can survive it, you and your partner can too. Times staff writer Michael Ordoña will moderate. Register here.

April 23

11 a.m.: History: Racism and exclusion in the United States: Alice Baumgartner, Walter Johnson and Martha S. Jones — L.A. Times Book Prize finalists in history — will discuss the connection between America’s past treatment of women and Indigenous and enslaved people and our present-day ills while looking at the people and the policies that have brought us to where we are today. Anna-Lisa Grace Cox will lead the conversation. Register here.

Stephen Graham Jones on how he put together ‘The Only Good Indians,’ a Ray Bradbury Prize finalist, and why horror is the most fascinating genre.

April 8, 2021

How to watch

The Book Prizes ceremony will stream live on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at 5 p.m. Friday.


RSVP ahead of time for each event with your name, ZIP Code and email address at

You’ll receive a confirmation email for each registered event. You’ll be emailed a reminder a few days beforehand with a link to watch the event.

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