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Can't-miss (and affordable!) events at Wordplay, the Loft's massive literary fest

Heavy hitters are here for Wordplay Fest.

Heavy hitters are here for Wordplay Fest. L-R: Stephen King photo by Shane Leonard, Amy Tan, Marlon James photo by Jeffrey Skemp

Wordplay, the Loft Literary Center’s sprawling literary festival, debuts this weekend with two days—and one night—packed with bookworm bait.

Lit Crawl MN 2019

Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater
Free

The lineup is expansive, and features some of the world’s most famous writers. The literary lion’s share of the events take place on outdoor stages, with two-day admission costing you just $10. A few other specially ticketed presentations will take place at the Guthrie, Open Book, and Mill City Museum, many of which are sold out, so best of luck with that.

Here’s our guide to the can’t-miss moments at Wordplay. You can also deep-dive into the schedule here.

The Rock Bottom Remainders
7:30 p.m. Friday at First Avenue
The festival kicks off with a sold-out concert at First Avenue featuring the all-star author band playing mom-and-dad rock covers. As Stephen King once wrote, “You know they got a hell of a band.” Original Remainder King will perform alongside Amy Tan, Mary Karr, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, and more.

Stephen King
10 a.m. Saturday at the Loft Stage
The outdoor stage shows start off with perhaps the biggest interview, Minneapolis’ own Ben Percy in conversation with mega-bestselling celebrity writer and horror master Stephen King.

Mary Karr and Amy Tan
Noon Saturday at the MPR Stage
This double-feature of superstars finds poet and memoirist Mary Karr (The Liars Club) exchanging ideas with Amy Tan, whose seminal The Joy Luck Club inspired an entire generation of Asian-American writers and exposed readers to a voice too long ignored in American literature.

Dave Barry and Julie Schumacher
2:30 p.m. Saturday at the MPR Stage
There likely won’t be a funnier discussion than the one between Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and our own Julie Schumacher, whose hilarious epistolary novel Dear Committee Members unfolds as a series of increasingly unhinged letters of recommendation.

Bill McKibben
Noon Sunday at the Loft Stage
This environmentalist and science writer might bum you out with his presentation, “Is the End Near? Probably.” But the eloquent educator’s The End of Nature was an early warning about the dangers of climate change way back in 1989.

Marlon James and Daniel Jose Older
2 p.m. Sunday at the Guthrie Theater
Daniel Jose Older speaks with the Twin Cities own Marlon James about the evolving appreciation of genre fiction—an ideal topic for the much-lauded James, whose latest novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, is the first part of a planned Afro-centric sci-fi trilogy.