Jami Attenberg!

It's December, which means - in addition to CoMoGives, of course - it's the season of "best of" lists. that time of year when people look back over the past twelve months and pick the things they've loved the most. On several of such book-related lists you will find All Grown Up, the most recent novel by Jami Attenberg. Hilarious, touching, and very smart, it's a wonderful book that thoroughly deserves all of the lavish praise that has been heaped upon it. We're very happy to announce that Jami will be coming to Columbia in April to discuss her novel (and many other things besides) at Unbound.

Jami Attenberg hires (c) Zack Smith Photography.jpg

Jami is the New York Times best-selling author of five novels, including The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie. She has contributed essays about sex, urban life, and food to the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and Lenny Letter, among other publications. Her work has been published in sixteen languages. She lives in New Orleans, LA, and we are very happy to welcome her to Unbound next April!

Posted on December 11, 2017 .

Pie and Whiskey! In a Book! And on Stage! (And in your Tummy.)

We are always looking for new and interesting ways to celebrate books and the written word, and this year we may have just come up with one of the funnest ways ever.

Sam Ligon and Kate Lebo began a reading series called Pie and Whiskey in the Pacific Northwest a few years ago. The idea was simple enough: authors and poets write pieces about pie, or whiskey, or both, and read them in front of a crowd. The genius stroke is that every member of the audience receives a slice of homemade pie and a shot of whiskey on the way in.

Like I say: GENIUS.

The idea was so successful that it gave birth to a book, which was published this fall. It features a host of fabulous writers, including Anthony Doerr, Steve Almond, Jess Walter, and Unbound alum Nina Furstenau, whose last book won Les Dames d’Escoffier International Grand Prize and MFK Fisher Book Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing. Here's a recent article in Salon that profiles Sam and Kate.  


We're delighted to announce that both Sam and Kate will be coming to Unbound in April. They'll be discussing the art of writing about food (along with Robin Sloan, Nina, and others) on Saturday, but they will also be hosting Unbound's very own Pie and Whiskey reading event to kick off the festival, on Thursday, April 19th, at Orr Street Studios. And yes, there will be pie, and yes, there will be whiskey, and yes, there will be brilliant writers reading pieces written especially for the occasion. As with all Unbound events, Pie and Whiskey will be free to attend, but (for obvious reasons) we anticipate that this will be hugely popular event, and so we will be creating an Eventbrite page nearer the time where people can reserve tickets.

Watch, as they say, this space.

Kate Lebo

Kate Lebo


Sam Ligon

Sam Ligon



Posted on December 4, 2017 .

It's time for CoMoGives!

When we first conceived of the Unbound Book Festival, we did so with our beloved city of readers in mind. We hoped that the idea of a book festival would be embraced by our friends and neighbors here in Columbia, and so it proved. We are thrilled and humbled by the enthusiasm with which Unbound has been received. We more than doubled attendance of our inaugural event in our second year. As we move into Year 3, we continue to expand and grow.

For this, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

And having thanked you, now we'd like to ask for your help.


Every December the Community Foundation of Central Missouri organizes a month of charitable online giving for nonprofits in the Columbia area. This project keeps growing - this year there are a whopping 114 organizations participating. It is a wonderfully simple way for people to give online to their favorite local charities. All you need is a credit card, an internet connection, and a couple of minutes.

As you probably know by now, all Unbound events are free to the public. We are proud to have been able to do this - we believe that books should be for everyone - but it does mean that, without the revenue from ticket sales, we are dependent on the support of donors and sponsors to be able to put the festival on each year.

Put another way: without your support there would be no festival.

So may we ask a favor? If you've attended an event at Unbound in the past, or if you're planning to come and hear Zadie Smith or any of our amazing authors next April, could you please help us out by visiting our page at CoMoGives and making a donation? Every little bit helps, and we would be tremendously grateful. And please pass this message along to your friends. CoMoGives runs "challenge grants", which means there are cash bonuses for the organizations with the most individual donors, irrespective of the size of the gift. So every $10 donation helps us toward a much greater prize.

With your help, Unbound will continue to flourish and grow and, we hope, give us one more reason to be proud of this amazing town we live in. 

Thank you.

Posted on December 1, 2017 .

Robin Sloan!

Do you remember a book that came out a couple of years ago called MR PENUMBRA'S TWENTY-FOUR HOUR BOOKSTORE? It sold about a gazillion copies and received fabulous reviews from every quarter, quickly becoming one of the most beloved novels of the past few years. And rightly so: it's a funny, tender, thought-provoking story, and - best of all! - it's about books

People have been waiting to see what the author, Robin Sloan, was going to do next. A couple of months ago he published his second novel, SOURDOUGH, which is just as charming and quirky and compelling as his debut.

We're thrilled to announce that Robin will be coming to Unbound next April to discuss his new novel as part of our panel on writing about food.

Robin Sloan.png

Robin grew up near Detroit and went to school at Michigan State, where he studied economics and co-founded a literary magazine called Oats. After college, he worked at the intersection of media and technology, first at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and then at Current TV and Twitter, both in San Francisco.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was a New York Times Best Seller, translated into more than twenty languages. George Saunders called the book “a tour-de-force” and Robin has kindly requested that no one say anything else about any of his writing, ever. We are done here.

With his partner Kathryn Tomajan, Robin manages a leased three-acre grove of olive trees in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their first batch of extra virgin olive oil will be available in 2018.

Posted on November 27, 2017 .

Behold, our Director of Poetry!

If you've attended Unbound before, you probably recognize this guy. Gabriel Fried is a core member of the Unbound team. He is on our programming committee, and every year he brilliantly curates our roster of poets. He also has a habit of doing irritatingly eloquent and smart introductions which make the rest of us (well, OK, me) feel rather inadequate. But we love him anyway.

Gabriel Fried.jpg

Gabe is also an accomplished and renowned poet. He is the author of The Children Are Reading (Four Way Books, 2017), and Making the New Lamb Take (Sarabande, 2007), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and named a top poetry collection of 2007 by Foreword Reviews and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is also the editor of an anthology, Heart of the Order: Baseball Poems and longtime poetry editor at Persea Books. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Missouri. We're thrilled that this year he'll be reading from his own work, in addition to performing his other Unbound duties. 

Posted on November 20, 2017 .

Buy Books and Raise Money for Unbound!

Can we ask you a favor?

On Saturday December 2, our friends at Barnes & Noble are hosting a book fair to raise money for Unbound. Basically, the way it works is that they donate a percentage of any money you spend in the store or online that day to us. It doesn't cost you a cent, but we benefit hugely. The deal doesn't just apply to books - anything you purchase (including records, coffees, toys, etc.) is included. In other words, it's a perfect opportunity for you to do your Christmas shopping and help us out at the same time.  

There's a voucher at the bottom of this post that you can print out and bring with you - but you don't even need to do that. We'll be in attendance all day and will have what you need to make sure that your purchases qualify for the donation. (If you purchase online then you will need the voucher code.) 

To sweeten the deal, we'll be putting on various events during the course of the day. We'll post a fuller schedule nearer the time, but look out for some popular local authors - including Tigers football coach Gary Pinkel at 2 p.m., who will be signing copies of his autobiography, The 100 Yard Journey. (Can you think of a better gift for the Mizzou football fan in your life?) We'll also be offering a free gift-wrap service all day and will have various goodies to give away.

Thanks! We'll look forward to seeing you on December 2!

B&N Book Fair Voucher.jpg
Posted on November 15, 2017 .

Adrian Matejka is Your Next Monday Morning Poet. You're welcome.

Guggenheim fellow? Check. National Book Award finalist? Check. Pulitzer Prize finalist? Check. Pushcart Prize? Check. Adrian Matejka's poetry has received astonishing recognition and countless awards, but don't take our word for how wonderful he is. Come and hear him for yourself at Unbound in April.  He'll be reading from his dazzling collection of work and participating in our panel on Poetry and Boxing.


Adrian was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was also a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His collection of poems, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His new book, Map to the Stars, was released from Penguin in March 2017. Among Matejka’s other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems, Hearing Damage, and a graphic novel. We are so excited to welcome him to Columbia!

Posted on November 13, 2017 .

Poets, we got 'em. (First in a Series.)

Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue. This especially applies when you are programming a book festival, as it turns out. But we waited, and we waited, and like the Canadian Mounties, we finally got our man (or woman in this instance.)

We have been hoping that Gabrielle Calvocoressi would come to Unbound pretty much since we cooked up the idea of a book festival, and we're delighted that for us third time is a charm. She's a fabulously talented poet and you will not want to miss the chance to hear her read and speak. 

Gaby Calvocoressi.jpg

Gaby is the author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia EarhartApocalyptic Swing (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize) and Rocket Fantastic, which was released by Persea Books in September 2017. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Woman Writer's Award, a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, TX, the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review, and a residency from the Civitella di Ranieri Foundation, among others.

Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and journals including the New York TimesPOETRYBoston Review, and Kenyon Review. She is an Editor at Large at Los Angeles Review of Books, and co-curates the digital maker's space Voluble. She is working on a memoir entitled The Year I Didn't Kill Myself, and a novel, The Alderman of the Graveyard. She lives in North Carolina and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Posted on November 6, 2017 .

Camille Dungy!

Well, it's been quite a week.

Last Monday we announced that Zadie Smith is next year's keynote speaker. Three days later, every seat in the Missouri Theatre for the event on April 20 was reserved. (If you didn't get a ticket, don't worry: click here for more details.) 

What makes the event more exciting still is that Zadie Smith will be joined onstage by another brilliant, multi award-winning writer - the poet and essayist Camille T. Dungy.

Camille Dungy.jpg

Camille is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade, and an extraordinary essay collection, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood and History. She has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, 100 Best African American Poems, and many other print and online venues.

Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, two NAACP Image Award nominations, fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and a fellowship from the NEA. She is a professor at Colorado State University.

We're delighted to be welcoming Camille to Columbia. In addition to interviewing Zadie Smith on Friday evening, she'll also be appearing at the festival on Saturday to discuss her essays and poetry. 

Posted on October 30, 2017 .

Zadie update: Sold out but Don't Panic!


We have been overwhelmed with the response to our announcement that Zadie Smith will be our keynote speaker next April. To our delight, all tickets for the event were snapped up in just a few days. And the Missouri Theatre is a big venue.

While we're thrilled that Columbia has embraced Zadie's appearance with such excitement and enthusiasm, we also know that there are some disappointed people out there who did not act quickly enough to reserve their tickets. 

If you're one of those people, this post is for you. And we say: Don't Panic.

It’s been our experience over the first two years of the festival that a lot of people reserve tickets and then (for whatever reason) don’t show up on the night. That means: if you want to see Zadie Smith but you don't have a ticket, you should come to the Missouri Theatre on April 20 anyway. Just come a little early. We’ll have a "no-show” line and will start letting people without tickets into the theatre at 7.15 to fill all empty seats at that time.

While we can’t make any promises, what we can tell you is that in the past two years, everyone who showed up on the night was admitted to the event. So: don't despair! You may just have to turn up a little earlier than you'd planned.

Posted on October 27, 2017 .