The Rain Taxi book festival is back in force


Between Labor Day and Halloween happens one of the happiest and most bookish weekends of the year: the Twin Cities Book Festival weekend hosted by Rain Taxi, which runs regularly – in person and , more recently, virtually – for more than 20 years.

The event started in 2001 and went entirely virtual in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Last year it became a hybrid, again cautiously venturing in person, but also with numerous online events.

This year, the festival is returning to a robust in-person event, with just a sprinkling of virtual events. As always, it will run all day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 15 at the Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights. It’s free.

The popular Minnesota Author Mashup begins at 11 a.m., with 50 Minnesota writers each having three minutes to talk about their book — or whatever else they want to talk about. The event features Minnesota writers who released a book this year. Participants will include Sequoia Nagamatsu (“How High We Go in the Dark”), Antonia Angress (“Sirens & Muses”), Andrew DeYoung (“The Time”), Allen Eskens (“Forsaken Country”), Will McGrath (” Farewell Transmission”), Kyle Tran Myhre (“Not Much to Sing About, But Enough”) and Artika Tyner (“The Inclusive Leader”). For a full list, go to

As always, there will be thousands of books and records for sale – a fundraiser for the festival – and a book fair with booths and tables featuring over 100 publishers, authors and literary organizations.

A full list of writers who will be performing throughout the day is online at, but the lineup includes poet and Harvard University professor Stephanie Burt; the poet and director of the Palestinian writing workshop Maya Abu Al-Hayyat; activist and poet Brenda Hillman; Major Jackson, winner of the Whiting Writers Award; novelist Phong Nguyen and illustrator and graphic designer Magdalena Mora.

Local writers who will take the stage include Anika Fajardo, John Coy, Shannon Gibney, Abby Jimenez and Marcie Rendon. Again, the full list is online.

The festival will end on Saturday night with a ticketed event that will launch hip-hop artist and poet Dessa’s new playbook, “Tits on the Moon.” (Can I say this in a family newspaper?) Although the festival itself is free, tickets to Dessa’s event are $5 and can be purchased at the Rain Taxi booth anytime during the festival.

The festival has strict COVID-19 protocols and will issue wristbands after seeing proof of vaccination, so bring your vax card. Masks are encouraged but not required.

Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks

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