Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Little Brown (2021-03-16)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language


by Beard, Jo Ann

Searing and exhilarating new work from the beloved, award-winning author of The Boys of My Youth and In Zanesville.

Since the publication of her groundbreaking collection, The Boys of My Youth, Jo Ann Beard has been heralded as a master of the autobiographical essay, a form that has recently gained popularity with the works of Leslie Jamison, Eula Biss, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Roxane Gay, among others.

Now, Beard returns with nine pieces in which she investigates love and betrayal, grief and survival in the precise, searingly personal language for which she is beloved.

In these genre-defying works, Beard captures both the quietly luminous moments of daily existence and those of life-and-death decision: a man jumps from a burning building to save his own life; a woman fights off a home invader with only a shovel; and in the title, novella-length story, the narrator examines issues of love and death, friendship and betrayal.

With exquisite language and unflinching observation, Festival Days captures the pain and exhilaration of our human experience, and shows a pioneering author at the pinnacle of her talent.

Jo Ann Beard is the author of the groundbreaking collection of autobiographical essays, The Boys of My Youth, and the novel, In Zanesville. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She has received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

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[P]rofoundly observed and impeccably phrased. No surprises there, then, given Jo Ann Beard's formidable talents. But it's actually full of audacious narrative surprises, is darkly moving and, at times, unexpectedly - almost unbearably - suspenseful.

Quote: Geoff Dyer, author of Otherwise Known as the Human Condition and White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World

I love how you love things,' someone who loves her tells Jo Ann Beard. That love is one reason Festival Days is such a great book. Another is her flair for describing those things in vibrant and felicitous prose. Beard honors the beautiful, the sacred, and the comic in life, and for life's inescapable cruelties and woes she offers the wisdom of a sage.

Quote: Sigrid Nunez, author of What Are You Going Through and National Book Award–winning The Friend

Festival Days is an artistic triumph - vividly peopled, elegantly written, and full of surprises. Each essay and story is an electrically-charged tale of loss and partial redemption. Reading Jo Ann Beard is like setting out on a walk with a curious and intelligent friend who is determined to show you how seemingly unrelated things share a secret kinship.

Quote: Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game

There are aging dogs, fire survivors, straying husbands and lots of cancer in this terrific new collection...[Beard's] writing works like compound interest, each experience building on the last, which built on the one before, till 'nothing new' - all the dying dogs and aging friends, abandoned houses and abandoned women (and cancer, which pervades this collection) - is something new, something more, and 'every moment of your life brings you to the moment you're experiencing now. And now. And now.'

Review: The Minneapolis Star Tribune

A book so good you have to put it down, then pick it back up... I can't think of a writer who puts words to our most difficult moments as adroitly as Beard - who so steadfastly refuses to cut away when things get tough. It never makes Festival Days an ordeal to read, though I found myself needing to take a walk when I reached the final page of each piece. During those walks, I found myself revisiting the stories, feeling invigorated to be in the company of someone who seems so much braver than me, and to soak up just some of that bravery.

Quote: Dan Kois, Slate

Beautiful... Beard's power comes from phrasings and insights that aren't just screaming for likes. Few writers are so wise and self-effacing and emotionally honest all in one breath... Over the course of nine beguiling pieces - which seamlessly meld observation and imagination - she effects an intimacy that makes us want to sit on the rug and listen.

Review: The Washington Post

[A] ferocious new collection.We can rely on Jo Ann Beard to miss nothing. She will gather the essential elements and arrange them before us with such precision that, without instructing us how to see, she grants us sight.

Review: New York Times

Vital and diverse, Jo Ann Beard's nine pieces in this second collection are an intriguing blend of fact and fiction.

Review: Shelf Awareness

Jo Ann Beard was profiled in the New York Times Book Review's By The Book

Quote: New York Times Book Review

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