Unbound Book Festival links honors students to Columbia community

By Jacob Richey

The Unbound Book Festival is coming to downtown Columbia April 21-24, 2022 featuring authors familiar to some students in the MU Honors College. Anyone can attend the event for free, but some events require registration. For the first time in two years, it will be back in person.

The festival will feature more than 20 authors: including novelists, poets, journalists, essayists, graphic memoirists and filmmakers. 

This list includes Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, the author of the Honors College 2021 One Read pick, “Friday Black.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author and Pulitzer Prize winner for his novel “The Sympathizer,” will lead the keynote event at 7 p.m. April 22 at the Missouri Theatre. Festival attendees must reserve tickets in advance here.

The Honors College integrates this festival and its authors into classwork: This year, it offered four sections of the Unbound Tutorial class. In these five-person classes, students analyze works by several authors who will attend the festival. These students will also attend and volunteer at Unbound.

“It’s very important for the Honors College not just to give the experience of an honors education to the students enrolled but also get them involved in activities in the community,” said Traci Cox, an instructor for an Unbound Tutorial class section. “So, having the four sections of the Unbound Book Festival Tutorial … allows honors students to not only get credit for their certificate but also participate in the literary community that’s here in Missouri.”

The featured authors will speak on small panels where audience members can ask questions. These 11 panels are open to the public and will take place in various downtown venues.

“I’m excited because I’ve been to Unbound before, but the last time I didn’t read any of the authors before I went, and then I read them afterwards because I liked what they said,” said Maddy Creach, who takes Cox’s section of the Unbound Tutorial class. “But this time I’m excited to go in with the knowledge of their works and be able to ask questions that are relevant to what they have written.”

To help ensure safety from COVID-19, festival attendees must bring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours. Unbound will also require all guests to wear a mask to any indoor events, such as the keynote.