Pulitzer Prize Winners Natalie Diaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen Among Acclaimed Authors and Poets to Headline Amherst College’s Seventh Annual Litfest, Feb. 24-27

Amherst College LitFest 2022: Illuminating great writing and Amherst's literary life

(AMHERST, Mass., Jan. 13, 2022)—From Feb. 24-27, Amherst College will host the seventh annual LitFest, a literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, along with the College’s extraordinary literary life. This year’s lineup includes Katie Kitamura and Elizabeth McCracken, both 2021 National Book Award (NBA) nominees; Pulitzer Prize winners Natalie Diaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen; and journalists Vann Newkirk and David Graham, among others. After last year’s pandemic-induced decision to hold the event virtually, the 2022 festival will largely be in-person, with virtual options for many of the sessions. 

Since its inception in 2016, more than 30 renowned writers—including Anne Applebaum, Michael Chabon, Susan Choi, Masha Gessen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Zadie Smith and Jesmyn Ward—have participated in LitFest, many as a result of a partnership between Amherst College; its award-winning literary magazine, The Common; and the National Book Foundation (NBF) Presents program. More information about the events, the writers and the livestreams is available at amherst.edu/go/litfest. The 2022 schedule is as follows (all times are Eastern Standard):

  • Friday, Feb. 25, 7-8 p.m.: A conversation with 2021 National Book Award in fiction (NBA) nominees Katie Kitamura and Elizabeth McCracken, authors of Intimacies and The Souvenir Museum, respectively. The discussion will be moderated by Kirun Kapur ’97, director of Amherst’s Creative Writing Program, and is hosted in partnership with the National Book Foundation. An audience Q&A will follow.
  • Saturday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m.-noon: A conversation with 2020 Pulitzer Prize in poetry winner Natalie Diaz, author of Postcolonial Love Poem, a finalist for the National Book Award. The event will be hosted by Alicia Mireles Christoff, associate professor of English at Amherst, in partnership with the National Book Foundation. An audience Q&A will follow.
  • Saturday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.: A conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, hosted by Jennifer Acker ’00, founder and editor-in-chief of The Common, in partnership with the College’s Presidential Scholars Program. (Ngyuen will also participate in that program’s other activities during LitFest.)
  • Sunday, Feb. 27, 1-2 p.m.: “Voting Rights and the Future of our Democracy,” a conversation with Vann Newkirk, senior editor at The Atlantic and the host of the podcast Floodlines, and David Graham, staff writer at The Atlantic. Moderated by Cullen Murphy ’74, H’19, The Atlantic editor-at-large and former chair of the Amherst College board of trustees. An audience Q&A will follow.
  • Sunday, Feb. 27, 3-4 p.m.: (Im)migration Writing, a conversation with winners of the Restless Books Immigrant Writing Prize, Deepak Unnikrishnan, Grace Talusan, and Ani Gjika, presented by Restless Books and The Common, moderated by Ilan Stavans, Restless publisher and Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture.

Additional events will include readings by alumni authors and The Common student interns; a Spoken Word Slam for Amherst College students; a discussion of Keeping the Difficult Balance, a biographical documentary about late poet and Amherst faculty member Richard Wilbur ‘42 by Ralph Hammann; and writing workshops for Amherst College students. The full schedule is now available.

“We are thrilled to return to an in-person celebration in 2022,” said Acker of The Common, who also directs LitFest. “This year we bring a stunning suite of globally-minded writers, including two Pulitzer Prize winners who have so much to share with our community about the topics they address in their books—from colonialism to romantic and platonic love—and the artful ways their writing lights up the page. I’m counting down the days to these moments of exchange and inspiration.” 

Books featured at LitFest can be purchased in advance from independent retailers Amherst Books or Bookshop.org, which will be well stocked. All registrants will be invited to enter a raffle for a chance to win a book from one of the guest authors.

This year’s festival is sponsored by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, The Common magazine and The Emily Dickinson Museum and is made possible by the generous support of the Croxton Lecture Fund, established in 1988 by William M. Croxton ’36 in memory of his parents, Ruth L. and Hugh W. Croxton. Income from this fund is to be used to educate Amherst students and to bring attention to the College by virtue of the renown of speakers underwritten by the fund. 

About LitFest

In addition to welcoming prestigious writers to campus, LitFest aims to illuminate Amherst’s distinguished literary history and the tradition of creative writing at “the writing college,” as well as the extraordinary resources and opportunities available for current and prospective students, scholars and others. These opportunities include chances to study with renowned faculty and alumni authors; the College’s award-winning literary magazine, The Common, and its Literary Publishing Internship that teaches participating students editorial skills and the ins and outs of publishing; extensive holdings of manuscripts related to Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur ’42 and other authors and poets in the College’s archives; and the College-owned Emily Dickinson Museum in downtown Amherst and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Read more at amherst.edu/go/writingcollege.

About Amherst College

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College is marking its bicentennial in 2021.