A ‘Must See’ Guide to the FREE Printer’s Row Lit Fair

An historic fountain in Printers Row in Chicago's South Loop.

There are so many readings, cooking demonstrations, and panel discussions, going on during the annual free admission Printers Row Lit Fest (happening this weekend, June 4-5)  that we asked Danielle Chapman, Director of Literary Programming for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, for a list of her must-sees:

Every visit to the Printers Row Lit Fest requires a stop at Sandmeyer’s, one of the city’s great indie bookstores & (OF COURSE!) the tent hosted by the Chicago Publishers Gallery, featuring 16 Chicago-area publishers, selling and giving away books and magazines; our tent is CC, located on Polk Street, the third in the row of tents on Polk if you’re entering from the West.

All panel discussions and event programming at the Lit Fest are free admission. However, events in the Harold Washington Library Center and the University Center require a ticket reservation due to limited seating. Tickets were available online through June 2, but Printers Row Lit Fest urges all those interested in attending a ticketed event to come to the venue on Saturday or Sunday and see if spaces are still available at the door.

Here are my picks from the numerous readings and panel discussions being offered this weekend:


  • 10 AM: Chicago Tribune columnist & Chicago Live! host RICK KOGAN in conversation with JONATHAN ALTER, author of “The Promise: President Obama, Year One”;
  • 11 AM: BOB RIESMAN, author of “I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy,” and MICHAEL CHARRY, author of “George Szell: A Life of Music,” in conversation with Howard Reich; EDWIDGE DANTICAT, author of “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work”;
  • 11:30 AM: MAKE Do: An Indie Lit Sideshow;
  • Noon: ELIZABETH BERG, author of “Once Upon a Time, There Was You,” in conversation with Joycelyn Winnecke; 12:30 p.m. A Killer History, with BARBARA D’AMATO, LIBBY FISCHER HELLMANN and GRAHAM MOORE, moderated by Julia Keller; Noon ISHMAEL REED, author of “Juice!” in conversation with Haki Madhubuti;
  • 1 PM: 1 p.m. KATHLEEN ROONEY, author of “Oneiromance (an epithalamion)” 1:30 p.m. SRIKANTH REDDY, author of “Voyager”; 1 p.m. LUIS ALBERTO URREA, author of “Into the Beautiful North,” in conversation with Art Winslow;
  • 2 PM: Fiction Debuts, with DEANNA FEI, SAMUEL PARK, BELINDA McKEON and REBECCA MAKKAI, moderated by Patrick Somerville (ticketed);
  • 2:15 p.m.: The Order of Odd-Fish: Theatrical Readings and Fan Art, presented by JAMES KENNEDY;
  • 2:30 p.m.: The Best of The Encyclopedia Show, hosted by ROBBIE Q. TELFER and SHANNY JEAN MANEY;
  • 3:30 p.m.: KEVIN COVAL and the Louder Than A Bomb All-Stars; 3:30 p.m. MARCUS SAKEY, author of “The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes,” in conversation with SEAN CHERCOVER, author of “Trigger City”
  • 4:15 p.m.: JAMES McMANUS, author of “Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker,” in conversation with Geoffrey Johnson


  • 11 a.m.: Cooking demo with ANUPY SINGLA, author of “The Indian Slow Cooker” 11:45 a.m. Cooking demo with chef SUSAN GOSS and DREW GOSS, co-authors of “West Town Tavern: Contemporary Comfort Food”;
  • 12:15 p.m.: CLARE VANDERPOOL, Newbery Medal winner and author of “Moon Over Manifest,” in conversation with Billy Lombardo;
  • 1:30 p.m.: RICHARD FORD, editor of “Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work,” in conversation with Elizabeth Taylor (ticketed);
  • 1:30 p.m.: The Tribune’s GREG KOT and WBEZ.org’s JIM DeROGATIS discuss their book;
  • 2 p.m.: Cooking demo with THE HEARTY BOYS, co-authors of “Talk With Your Mouth Full”;
  • 2 p.m.: GARRY WILLS and MARTIN MARTY in conversation with Owen Youngman;
  • 3 p.m.: Chicago’s New Mayor, with Chicago Tribune reporters KRISTEN MACK and RICK PEARSON, moderated by Jane Hirt, Chicago Tribune managing editor;
  • 3 p.m.: TERRY McMILLAN, author of “Getting to Happy” (ticketed);
  • 4 p.m. Third World Press Showcase;

Must Sees for Kids and Young Adults


  • Various times: JUSTIN ROBERTS AND THE NOT READY FOR NAPTIME Players perform;
  • 10:30 a.m.: Oh the Places You will Go: Writing for Children workshop with ESTHER HERSHENHORN, author of “S is for Story”;
  • 11 a.m: Tribune critic Julia Keller with author BLUE BALLIETT, then the Young Adult Book Prize presentation, with Gerould Kern and Rick Kogan and winner JOAN BAUER;


  • 12:30 p.m.: AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL, author of “Little Pea,” “Spoon” and the new “This Plus That”;

For more information on the free admission Printers Row Lit Fest, click here. Visit the free admission Chicago Publishers Gallery & Cafe any time of year at the Chicago Cultural Center. For our printable neighborhood guide and interactive Google Map of Printers Row, click here. To keep up with current literary events in Chicago and to learn about Chicago’s authors and publishing companies, visit ChicagoPublishes.com.

Tags: , , , , ,