This weekend, the University of Southern California will host the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for the fourth year in a row.
Since its inception in 1996, the festival — which brands itself as an “annual celebration of ideas, creativity, and the written word” — has continued to grow. The festival now draws over 150,000 attendees as well as authors such as T.C. Boyle, John Green, B.J. Novak, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Alicia Silverstone and Rachel Zoe.
Aside from celebrity authors, events will include live music and readings, art and photo galleries and cooking demonstrations.
Margo Brown, an undecided freshman, said she is looking forward to experiencing the event for the first time.
“I am most excited to meet and listen to some of my favorite authors speak,” Brown said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to have access to an event of this magnitude.”
There is an important new feature being incorporated into the festival this year — the Los Angeles Times “Inspire Us” contest. The event called for any local musicians, artists, poets, photographers and comedians to enter for a chance to win an appearance on stage. Those lucky winners will get to perform on one of the many stages set up around USC’s campus.
Other additions include the Artist’s Row, featuring a select group of artists creating installations live on-site as well as a Los Angeles Times pop-up photo gallery.
Erica Dominguez, a junior majoring in fine arts, noted this year’s festival is an especially unique event.
“It is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see these emerging artists at work and pursuing something I one day hope to do,” Dominguez said.
Furthermore, this year’s festival will be debuting “Festival After Dark,” extending its hours to show a live performance of American Public Media’s Wits. The popular radio program will be taping in Bovard Auditorium on Saturday, April 12 at 8 p.m. Host John Moe will be joined by special guests Margaret Cho, band Superchunk and Will Scheff for a night of laughs, music and more.
This year will also feature some of Los Angeles’ favorite food trucks such as Crepe’n Around and The Recess Lunch Truck in addition to Cuban, Indian and Asian cuisine. These will be located off of Downey Way in the parking lot.
The addition of these new events has defined the festival’s growth since its move to USC from UCLA four years ago. Author and USC professor T.C. Boyle said he prefers having the festival on the USC campus.
“The feel of the fest is more intimate here, whereas at UCLA things were far too spread out and the overall feel was more exclusive and cold,” Boyle said. “The USC venue seems to make it much more [of] a community celebration.”
Boyle, author of Stories II, will be attending the festival to perform on Sunday at 3 p.m., where he will present a new short story of his.
“I hope the audiences reconnect with the notion of enjoying literature, rather than seeing it as something reserved for classrooms and assignments,” Boyle said. “I hope that the younger members of said audiences will be gratified — if not startled — to see that some of the people who write the books they read are still alive and breathing.”
USC professor of history Deborah Harkness stressed the merits of the festival’s mission to advance the vitality of literature.
“I hope that authors and readers alike see that the reports of the death of the book have been greatly exaggerated,” Harkness said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “When thousands of people — including children and their parents — come to the [Los Angeles Times Festival,] it seems to me that the book is very much alive.”