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  • NYS Writers Institute

Albany Book Festival spotlight: Farah Jasmine Griffin and Janell Hobson

We'll use this space to introduce you to featured writers coming to our 4th Annual Albany Book Festival, scheduled for Saturday, September 25, at the University at Albany.

Farah Jasmine Griffin and Janell Hobson

Farah Jasmine Griffin, photo credit Peggy Dillard Toone
Farah Jasmine Griffin, photo credit Peggy Dillard Toone

Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor who teaches African American literature at Columbia University, has published widely on issues of race and gender, feminism, jazz and cultural politics. Her new book, Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature, will be published in mid-September.

Her other books include If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday;Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, and with co-author Salim Washington, Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever.

Janell Hobson
Janell Hobson

Janell Hobson is chair of the University at Albany's Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

She recently edited The Routledge Companion to Black Women’s Cultural Histories and is the author of Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture and Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, and the forthcoming When God Lost Her Tongue: Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination.

She also writes and blogs for Ms. Magazine and authored several cover stories for the magazine, including "Beyoncé’s Fierce Feminism” in the Spring 2013 edition.

Schedule information for the Farah Jasmine Griffin and Janell Hobson conversation will be updated at

The books

The books of Farah Jasmine Griffin's and Janell Hobson are available at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Here are links to their catalog:

More links

Visit Farah Jasmine Griffin's website at

Griffin was interviewed on NPR on September 23, 2020

About the Albany Book Festival

The fourth annual event, on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the University at Albany, will be held in-person for the first time since 2019. Events will begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. More information at

The list of Albany Book Festival guests includes (subject to change):

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Friday Black: Stories),

  • Ayad Akhtar (Homeland Elegies),

  • Robert Boyers (The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies),

  • Elizabeth Brundage (The Vanishing Point),

  • Mary Gaitskill (This is Pleasure),

  • Garth Greenwell (Cleanness),

  • Farah Jasmine Griffin (Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature),

  • Janell Hobson (When God Lost Her Tongue: Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination),

  • Quiara Alegría Hudes (My Broken Language: A Memoir, co-wrote the Tony Award-winning stage musical "In the Heights" with Lin-Manuel Miranda.),

  • Amitava Kumar (A Time Outside This Time),

  • Reif Larsen (Uma Wimple Charts her House),

  • Emily Layden (All Girls),

  • Ed Lin (David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College),

  • George Makari (Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia),

  • Bethany C. Morrow (So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix),

  • Peter Osnos (An Especially Good View: Watching History Happen),

  • Jay Parini (Borges and Me: An Encounter),

  • David Pietrusza (Too Long Ago: A Childhood Memoir. A Vanished World.),

  • Nathaniel Philbrick (Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy),

  • David Rohde (In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America’s “Deep State”),

  • Ed Schwarzschild (In Security),

  • Dana Spiotta (Wayward),

  • Setsuko Winchester ( and

  • Simon Winchester (LAND: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World).

The book festival will also include a Local Authors Marketplace, readings by young local writers published in Skribblers magazine; and readings from banned books to help kick off Banned Books Week beginning September 26 with the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” The festival’s children’s programming is organized by Skribblers and the Albany Public Library.

More information at

Albany Book Festival Sponsors

The NYS Writers Institute is grateful for the following individuals and businesses whose donations help fund this year's Albany Book Festival.


Bruce Piasecki & The Creative Force Fund


Pernille Ægidius Dake / George and Kathleen McNamee / Renaissance Corporation of Albany

Charles Touhey and Alice Green / University Auxiliary Services


Times Union / Ellen Jabbur / Stuyvesant Plaza


Laurie Bank and Stuart Freyer / A. Andrew Casano, MD & Bella Pipas / Bernard F. Conners Foundation / The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza / Susan Novotny / CDPHP / Fenimore Asset Management / FAM Funds / Doris Fischer Malesardi / The Foy Fund / Henry Greenberg / Paul and Mary Grondahl / Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C. / William and Dana Kennedy / William & Mary Jean Krackeler / Betsy Lopez / Mackin & Casey / Modern Press / Jeffrey Pollard / Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC / Roberta and Bob Redmond / Mary Scanlan / Herb and Cynthia Shultz / Jim and Teresa Stellar / Steve McKee Foundation / UAlbany William L. Reese Emeritus Center Three Voices Grant Program


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