Norfolk prepares for the annual Haystack Book Festival

NORFOLK – Haystack Book Talks Festival has announced the list of speakers and events for September 30-October 30. 2 at Norfolk Library.

This year’s festival is presented in person with 80 places available in the Great Hall of the library. The program will also be streamed live online. Haystack Book Festival is free and open to the public.

In-person registration is required in advance for all events at Live stream registration is required in advance at


September 30, 6 p.m.: Brendan Gill lecture. Tomi Obaro, author of the acclaimed debut novel Dele Weds Destiny, will deliver the Brendan Gill Lecture. Obaro is a writer from New York and an editor for BuzzFeed News. Dele Weds Destiny is her first novel.

About the Brendan Gill Lecture: Longtime Norfolk resident Brendan Gill died in 1997. In 1998, the Brendan Gill Lecture was established by the Norfolk Library Associates to honor Gill’s generous contributions to the library. Gill wrote various articles for The New Yorker magazine for more than fifty years and was, in successive decades, the magazine’s film, theater and architecture critic. In his life in New York, Gill served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Municipal Arts Society, where he guided preservation efforts at Grand Central Station.

October 1, 10:30 a.m. “Fierce Enough to Be Free: Five 19th-Century Women Who Helped Spark America’s First Civil Rights Movement” with Janice P. Nimura, author of The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Bring Medicine to Women – and Women in Medicine. She will be in conversation with Dorothy Wickenden, author of The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights

Nimura received a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his work on The Doctors Blackwell, which was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Her previous book, Daughters of the Samurai, was a 2015 NYT Noteworthy Book. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, and Lit Hub.

Wickenden is the author of Nothing Daunted and The Agitators. Since 1996, she has been the editor of The New Yorker; she also writes for the magazine and is the moderator of its weekly podcast “The Political Scene”. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard, Wickenden was national affairs editor at Newsweek from 1993 to 1995 and was previously a longtime editor of the New Republic.

Oct. 1, 1 p.m.: “Nijinska, Ballet, Modernisme”, Lynn Garafola, author of La Nijinska: choreographer of the modern, in conversation with Marina Harss, author of a forthcoming biography on Alexi Ratmansky.

Garafola is professor emeritus of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University. Historian and critic, she is the author of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Legacies of Twentieth Century Dance and more recently La Nijinska. She also curated three major exhibitions centered on New York – on the New York City Ballet, Jerome Robbins and Arthur Mitchell. A former Getty Scholar, she is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Harss is a New York-based writer, journalist and critic, writing about all aspects of dance and occasionally opera. His writing appears regularly in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Fjord Review, Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine and elsewhere. She has also written for the Nation, the Guardian, the Threepenny Opera Review, the Boston Globe, the Ballet Review and other publications. She is the author of an upcoming book on choreographer Alexi Ratmansky, to be published in 2023.

Oct. 1, 2:30 p.m. “Russia and Ukraine at War,” with Brigid O’Keeffe, author of The Multi-Ethnic Soviet Union and Its Demise, in conversation with Victoria Smolkin, author of A Sacred Place Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet atheism.

O’Keeffe is a professor of history at Brooklyn College at the City University of New York. In addition to The Multi-Ethnic Soviet Union and Its Demise, she is also the author of Esperanto and Languages ​​of Internationalism in Revolutionary Russia (Ab Imperio Prize winner) and New Soviet Gypsies: Nationality, Performance, and Selfhood in the Early Soviet Union. O’Keeffe is working on his next book, “The Family Litvinov: A History of the Twentieth Century.”

Smolkin is an associate professor of history at Wesleyan University. A Sacred Place Is Never Empty received an honorable mention for the 2019 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, and the Russian translation was shortlisted for the Alexander Patigosky Literary Prize. She is currently working on two projects: “The Wall of Memory: Ukraine and the Impossibility of History” and “The World of Tomorrow: Communism, Cosmism and the Destiny of Utopia”.

October 1, 5 p.m. “Kitchen Confidential: Inside the World of New York Times Cooking” Sam Sifton, author of The New York Times No Recipe Recipe Cookbook, in conversation with Melissa Clark, author of Dinner in One. Note: This is a ticketed event at Husky Meadows Farm, 30 Doolittle Drive, Norfolk. *Places are limited and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Sifton is associate editor of The New York Times and founding editor of The New York Times Cooking, for which he writes newsletters. Previously, he served as the newspaper’s food editor, national news editor, food critic and culture editor. Sifton is the author of several cookbooks, including the most recent See You on Sunday and The New York Times No Recipe Recipe Cookbook.

Clark is a food columnist for The New York Times/New York Times Cooking, where she writes the popular “A Good Appetite” column and has starred in over 100 cooking videos. She has written 45 cookbooks, the latest of which, Dinner in One, focuses on one-pot, one-pot and one-pan meals. She is the recipient of two James Beard Awards and two IACP Awards, and her work has been selected for the Best American Food Writing series.

October 2. 9:30 a.m. “A Walk in the City Prairie – Insects in Our Village” with Dr. Kimberly Stoner, Agricultural Entomologist Emeritus at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, for insight into the insects that live here in the village of Norfolk center. This event is limited to 20 people. Meet at Robertson Plaza, Station Place, Norfolk, CT

Oct. 2, 11 a.m. “Collapsing Populations and the Fight for Life” with Oliver Milman, author of The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Rule the World, in conversation with Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in the age of extinction.

Milman is a British journalist and environmental correspondent for the US Guardian. He has reported from places such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Arctic and once studied an underwater volcano in a mini submarine. The insect crisis is his first book.

Nijhuis is a project editor at the Atlantic, a longtime contributing editor at High Country News, and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. Beloved Beasts was named one of the best books of 2021 by the Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian Magazine, Booklist, and other publications.

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Angela C. Hale