Tulane cancels New Orleans Book Festival; event was expecting nearly 30,000 attendees

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Walter Isaacson addresses the crowd gathered in the LBC as he helps announce the line-up for the New Orleans Book Festival in October.

Josh Axelrod, Senior Staff Reporter

Just yesterday the New Orleans Book Festival announced its full line-up, boasting a roster of nearly 100 authors for an event expecting 30,000 attendees. Today, the Tulane-hosted event has been canceled due to the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans, according to Walter Isaacson, event co-chair and Tulane professor of history.

The event had been scheduled for March 19-21. Some of the festival’s major authors included Donna Brazile, Sarah Broom, Malcolm Gladwell, John Grisham, Michael Lewis and Susan Rice.

“We were thrilled to have such a diverse and exciting lineup scheduled for our inaugural festival, but we of course must do what is best for the health and safety of our community and our nation,” Isaacson said.

People who had purchased tickets for keynote addresses will be fully refunded. On Tuesday, the event’s future cancellation was foreshadowed when one of its sponsors, Scholastic, decided to withdraw its authors as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

According to festival organizers, a number of authors who were scheduled to attend have expressed interest in returning for the event the following year.

“We are obviously heartbroken and disappointed to cancel what we believe was going to be a spectacular first-time event for our book festival at Tulane University,” Cheryl Landrieu, co-chair and executive director, said. “We have been blown away and extremely inspired with the amount of interest, both locally and nationally, from authors, book lovers and volunteers for our book festival. Our 2021 dates are already set for March 18-20, and we will do our best to make sure it is a tremendous event.”