Jul 10, 2023 - Culture

These books will represent Louisiana at the 2023 National Book Festival

Photo shows the book covers for "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You" and "Nowhere Better Than Here."

"The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You" and "Nowhere Better Than Here" will represent Louisiana at the 2023 National Book Festival. Images: Courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana

A book from a celebrated New Orleans author will represent Louisiana at this year's National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

  • Meanwhile, a Baton Rouge teacher wrote the youth book that will also represent the state at the fest.

Why it matters: Leaders in every state, D.C. and the five U.S. territories selected books to represent their literary heritage at the festival.

  • It's a huge honor for the authors and elevates their work to a wider audience.

Driving the news: Maurice Carlos Ruffin's "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You" is the adult book pick for Louisiana this year.

  • "Maurice Carlos Ruffin has an uncanny ability to reveal the hidden corners of a place we thought we knew," writes Penguin Books, his publisher, about the short story collection. "These perspectival, character-driven stories center on the margins and are deeply rooted in New Orleanian culture."
  • The work is "one of the best books of the year," writes Garden & Gun, and was reviewed by the New York Times, which selected it for their Editor's Choice list.
Photo shows side-by-side headshots of Maurice Ruffin and Sarah Guillory
Maurice Carlos Ruffin and Sarah Guillory are the two featured Louisiana authors at the 2023 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Photos: Courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana

Sarah Guillory's "Nowhere Better than Here" is the youth book selection.

  • The book is about a 13-year-old girl fighting against the effects of climate change in her coastal Louisiana town, according to her publisher, Roaring Brook Press.
  • It was named a best book of 2022 by Kirkus Reviews.

What's they're saying: “There couldn’t be two better ambassadors for Louisiana and its literature,” said interim state librarian Meg Placke in a statement. “Sarah Guillory and Maurice Carlos Ruffin have a deep love of our state. Their work leaves no question about that."

Of note: The National Book Festival changed the rules last year to allow an adult and youth book. Previously only youth titles were selected.

Flashback: Selections in previous years include:

  • "Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana" by Brian K. Mitchell, Barrington S. Edwards and Nick Weldon (2021).
  • "Bonfires on the Levee, A Louisiana Christmas Tradition" by Johnette Downing (2020).
  • "The Craziest Fishing Tale on the Bayou" by Gary Alipio (2019).

Zoom in: The Louisiana Center for the Book selects the works to represent the state at the festival.

  • To be selected, books may be written by authors from Louisiana, take place here or celebrate the state’s culture and heritage.
  • The Louisiana Center for the Book is a division of the state library and is the state affiliate for the Library of Congress.

What's next: The 2023 National Book Festival will be Aug. 12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

  • The books also will be part of the Library of Congress Great Reads from Great Places.
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