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Highlights to watch for at the 2022 Montana Book Festival

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Debra Magpie Earling, right, and Arleen Adams laugh during an honoring ceremony for Earling at the Payne Family Native American Center at the University of Montana on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2017.

The festival of the book is back. The Montana Book Festival takes place Sept. 15-18 at venues around Missoula, primarily at the Missoula Public Library, the Zootown Arts Community Center and the Roxy Theater.

There are more than 50 authors and even more events, spanning local writers, genre, poetry, fiction and fan-fiction. Here are some highlights of the days ahead. Go to for more information and a complete schedule.

Thursday, Sept. 15

Festival opening with Debra Magpie Earling

11 a.m.-12 p.m. MPL, Cooper Room B

The festival kicks off with a reading from Earling, whose celebrated novel, “Perma Red,” has been reissued by Milkweed Editions.

“The Territories: A literary grudge match”

8-9 p.m., Ole Beck VFW Post 209

Local authors throw down on some shared-universe wrestling fiction. Participants include Dan Brooks, who's published work in the Missoula Independent and the New York Times Magazine, and the city's two local professional MMA journalists/podcasters, Chad Dundas and Ben Fowlkes.

$5 w/o all-access button.

“Gentrification in the Mountain West”

4-5 p.m., MPL, Cooper Room A

Jump into one of the most pressing issues in the region with this panel. Ryanne Pilgeram, a Montana native, is a professor of rural sociology who’s published a book on the subject. Also hear from Butte-based reporter/author Kathleen McLaughlin, Metis poet/essayist Chris La Tray and local playwright/actor Ken Grinde of the Missoula Tenants Union.


“The Picture, or the Thousand Words”

10-11 a.m., MPL, Cooper Room A

You don’t have to choose, necessarily, with this lineup. Author Shann Ray collaborated with photographer Craig Hergert on a publication, “Montana Panoramic: Transparent in the Backlight” based on years of the latter’s pictures from around Montana. Also hear from David Overturf about his collaborative work, “Project 1:1000.”

Emme Lund reading

7-8 p.m. 121 S. Higgins Ave.

The Portland, Oregon-based transgender author’s novel, “The Boy with the Bird in His Chest,” was described as a “symbolic tale of growing up queer in the early 2000s” by Kirkus Reviews, which concluded, “embrace magic and suspend your disbelief and this novel may just take you on a beautiful, necessary journey.”

Saturday, Sept. 17

10 am.-2 p.m., Exhibitor Fair, Zootown Arts Community Center

Peruse the books at the ZACC during the Exhibitor Fair.

“The Chinese Experience of Montana”

1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., MPL, Cooper Room A

Learn more about a group whose place in state history has largely gone unexplored. Teow Lim Goh, a poet, essayist and critic, works to "recover the stories of Chinese immigrants in American West," per her website. Historian Mark T. Johnson wrote "The Middle Kingdom Under the Big Sky," recently published by University of Nebraska Press. They'll be hosted by Paul Kim of the ACLU of Montana, who studied human geography for his doctorate through the University of London.

“The Making of ‘Thunderous’ with ML Smoker and Natalie Peeterse”

3-4 p.m., Missoula Art Museum

Smoker, the poet laureate, and fellow Helena-based author Natalie Peeterse, will discuss their Indigenous graphic novel for young adults, “Thunderous.”

$5, or free with all-access button or student ID

“An Evening with Candice Carty-Williams”

6:30-7:30 p.m., MPL, Cooper Room

The London-based author published an award-winning debut novel, “Queenie.” Her recently published follow-up, “People Person,” was called “a delightful, uplifting and emotionally satisfying novel about building new connections in the face of deep-rooted abandonment wounds and hideous disappointment” by the Guardian.

“An Oral History of ‘Fargo’ ” (with a screening)

7:30 p.m., Roxy Theater

Coen Brothers fans can dive even deeper into the classic crime drama with the expertise of Todd Melby. The Minneapolis journalist (audio and print) wrote a book, “A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere: The Untold Story of the Making of ‘Fargo.’ ” Melby will be on hand to talk about the film in addition to a screening.

For tickets, go to


‘Ted K.’ screening and talk with Jamie Gehring

2 p.m., Roxy Theater

Ted Kaczynski was recently the subject of a feature film, “Ted K.,” starring Sharlto Copley, that was shot in western Montana. Watch the film and hear from Gehring, who wrote “Madman in the Woods: Life Next Door to the Unabomber,” about her experience growing up next door to the Unabomber.

For tickets, go to

"An Evening with Jamie Ford"

7-8 p.m., Zootown Arts Community Center

The best-selling author of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" is coming down from Great Falls to talk about his latest novel. In "The Many Daughters of Afong Moy," Ford revisits the story of the first Chinese woman in America and branches outward, imaging generations of descendants' and the inherited trauma they carry.

$5, or free with all-access button.

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