Sunday, September 12, 2021 National Book Festival Prime-Time Special, Hosted by LeVar Burton - Premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV and PBS stations across the country

LeVar Burton

Premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV and PBS stations across the country 

For the second consecutive year, Detroit Public TV and PBS Books are partnering with the Library of Congress to produce a primetime special, “Open a Book, Open the World,” for the National Book Festival. It premieres this Sunday on PBS stations across the nation.

LeVar Burton will serve as host of the hour-long program, highlighting the remarkable lineup of authors, poets and writers at the 2021 Library of  Congress National Book Festival. The program will offer a timely celebration of the power of books and discussions on some of the major topics of the day.

Books have been a lifeline for so many of us during this most difficult year. They have offered us an escape from the pandemic but also advice on how to cope with its challenges. This exciting program, which Detroit Public TV is proud to have produced, will indeed open the world and open our hearts to the healing power of literature.

Besides being broadcast on local PBS affiliates, the program will be available on and the PBS video app.

Speaking to the theme of the prime-time special, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said, “Books open the world to us, fuel our imaginations and show us our common humanity, especially as we confront huge challenges in society.”

Burton, a longtime champion of reading, hosts the show from his public library in Los Angeles with Hayden appearing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The program will feature 20 of the nation’s leading literary voices discussing their newest books and addressing what “Open a Book, Open the World” means to them.

“I’m proud and honored to join Dr. Carla Hayden to explore the National Book Festival,” Burton said. “A good book can take you on a journey. After the last year, we’re all ready to plot a new course, and books can be an amazing compass.”

Authors featured in the special are: 

·        Michael J. Fox, actor, film producer and activist, on his book, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.”

·        Tana French, American Irish writer known as the “First Lady of Irish Crime” on her book, “The Searcher.”

·    Diane von Furstenberg, world-renowned fashion designer and entrepreneur, on her new book, “Own It: The Secret to Life.”

·      Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and founder of Breakthrough Energy for clean technologies, on his book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.”

·        Roxane Gay, essayist and novelist, on her co-authored book, “The Sacrifice of Darkness.”

·        Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, discussing her book, “On Juneteenth.”

·        Amanda Gorman, author of “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country,” on how books have opened the world for her.

·        Adam Grant, organizational psychologist, on his book, “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know.”

·        Yaa Gyasi, PEN/Hemingway Award-winning novelist, on her book, “Transcendent Kingdom.”

·        Mishal Husain, BBC News anchor, who wrote “The Skills: From First Job to Dream Job ― What Every Woman Needs to Know.”

·        Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, on his book, “Klara and the Sun.”

·        Chang-rae Lee, PEN/Hemingway Award winner, on his book, “My Year Abroad.”

·        Silvia Moreno-Garcia, novelist in several genres, including horror and noir, on her books, “Mexican Gothic” and “Velvet Was the Night.”

·        Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, on his book, “The Committed.”

·        Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-winning actress and activist, on her children’s book, “Sulwe.”

·        Christopher Paolini, fantasy and science fiction writer, on his book. “To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.”

·        Sarah Pearse, novelist of horror, on her debut book, “The Sanatorium.”

·        Angie Thomas, writer of international bestsellers for young people, on her book, “Concrete Rose.”

·        Martha Wells, Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer, on her book, “Fugitive Telemetry.”

·        Isabel Wilkerson, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, on her book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”


Full interviews with each author will be featured in on-demand videos through the National Book Festival website at, to be released Sept. 17.

To create the broadcast, the Library of Congress collaborated with PBS Books, a national programming initiative produced by Detroit Public Television.

Again this year, because of the pandemic, the National Book Festival itself will be a virtual event with an expanded 10-day schedule, from Sept.17-26. For more information and a complete calendar of activities, visit the festival website.

In the days leading up to the National Book Festival, PBS Books is producing live virtual interviews with many of its authors, including Christopher Paolini, Viet Than Nguyen, Brit Bennett, Meg Medina, Annette Gordon-Reed and Maria Hinojosa, among other celebrated writers. These author talks can be viewed at 

Rich Homberg

President and CEO - Detroit Public Television


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