National Book Award Winner TA-NEHISI COATES To Headline 36th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago

Ta-Nehisi Coates photographed by Gabriella Demczuk

Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, returns for its 36th year with 100% free programming for book lovers, Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Presented by the not-for-profit Near South Planning Board (NSPB), the highly anticipated 2020 festival will be headlined by New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, the recipient of this year’s Harold Washington Literary Award. Coates kicks off Printers Row Lit Fest on June 6 at 10 a.m. at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at Harold Washington Library (400 S. State Street, Chicago).

Coates is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He is the author of the bestselling books The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. His first novel, The Water Dancer, was released in September 2019. Coates is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected during this year’s Printers Row Lit Fest, which will feature nearly 100 events with local and national bestselling authors and more than 100 diverse booksellers—plus spoken word performances, chef demos, writing workshops, events for children and young adults, and special programming in conjunction with the Year of Chicago Music.

The 36th annual Printers Row Lit Fest takes place on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, along Dearborn Street from Polk Street north to Ida B. Wells Drive (formerly Congress Parkway). All festival programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Ta-Nehisi Coates will also be honored at the 2020 Harold Washington Literary Award gala, a ticketed fundraiser that supports NSPB’s Authors in the Schools program and officially launches Printers Row Lit Fest. The event takes place on Thursday, June 4 at 6 p.m. More information on the Harold Washington Literary Award dinner can be found at

Near South Planning Board is the official Printers Row Lit Fest presenter. Festival support is provided by program sponsor Wintrust, and major event sponsors Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Sun-Times, Poetry Foundation, WBEZ Chicago and Chicago Public Library.

Near South Planning Board, founder of the Printers Row Lit Fest, is a not-for-profit community-based organization serving businesses, institutions and property owners of the Near South Side of Chicago since 1946.

The Harold Washington Literary Award recognizes diverse and stimulating authors who address issues of contemporary life and whose literary achievements include a significant body of work that has touched the public mind and imagination. Harold Washington, the first African American mayor of the City of Chicago, revered literature and epitomized the diversity of the American experience. The award, which bears his name, celebrates this spirit. The goal of this award is to present examples to the public of creative use of the written word. Recipients of this prestigious award are selected by a cross-cultural committee of representatives from Chicago’s literary community. Past Harold Washington Literary Award winners starting in 1989 include Susan Sontag, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Ellison, August Wilson, Scott Turow and Alex Kotlowitz.