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What to check out at Printers Row 2017

Everything that’s free at the annual fest (except Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Al Franken)

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Readers of Chicago rejoice! This weekend is the Printers Row Lit Fest, the annual Tribune-sponsored celebration of books and the people who write them. In a concession to unpredictable June weather, all author appearances and writing workshops this year will be indoors, either at the Harold Washington Library or Jones College Prep, though the bookseller booths will remain outside. As always, the festival is mostly free, except for featured speakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Sun 6/11, 1 PM, $5, $35 for assigned seating) and Senator Al Franken (Sat 6/10, 3 PM, $35); if you want to spend $50 for a Fest Pass, you can see them and get access to the express signing lanes.

And now a few highlights:

In a cruel twist of fate, at 10 AM Saturday you'll be forced to choose between Jason Diamond, author of Searching for John Hughes (HarperCollins), in conversation with Ben Tanzer; poet Rita Dove in conversation with the Trib's Mary Schmich; the awesome Samantha Irby with Scaachi Koul and Jenny Allen; and Emil Ferris, author of My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics), the graphic novel with an epic publishing history, in conversation with Trib reporter Christopher Borrelli.

The 11 AM slot also presents a difficult choice: Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books); legal-thriller-writing lawyer Scott Turow; or another installment of the ongoing Our Miss Brooks 100 centennial celebration with Quraysh Ali Lansana, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, and Patricia Smith.

At noon, your choice is cooking demonstrations by Anupy Singla and Rick Bayless; Megan Abbott and Jennifer Finney Boylan chatting about the fine art of writing suspense; and the Trib's Amy Dickinson discussing the challenges of dispensing advice to strangers. At 1 PM, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer E. Jason Wambsgans talks with Schmich about covering violence in Chicago, Ladydrawer Anne Elizabeth Moore and horror novelist Daniel Kraus compare the scary things in their work, Luvvie Ajayi tells Lolly Bowean about being awesome, and students from 826CHI read from their new anthology PS: You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust.

Syrian short-story writer Osama Alomar returns to Chicago for a 2 PM conversation with novelist Christine Sneed; at the same time, trans activist Janet Mock discusses her books Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty (Atria). At 3 PM Mayte Garcia talks about her memoir The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince (Hachette), and at 4 PM there'll be a taping of CHIRP radio's live-lit show The First Time with Joe Meno, Freda Love Smith, and Britt Julious.

Sunday's schedule is a bit less packed, though it does begin with an odd pairing, NPR's Scott Simon and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh discussing Smith's new memoir, My Cubs: A Love Story (Blue Rider). Also at 10 AM, Heather Ann Smith talks about Blood in the Water (Pantheon), her history of the Attica prison riot. At 12:45 PM, Dana Cree will do a cooking demonstration from her new book Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream (Random House). A special installment of discussion series the Conversation, "Writing Resistance," takes place at 3 PM, along with a panel of coming-of-age fiction with novelists Allegra Goodman, Jane Hamilton, and Ann Leary.  v

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