Wisconsin Book Festival Kicks Off 2023 Season Under New Leadership
The Wisconsin Book Festival begins its spring season on Sunday, February 19, under the leadership of newly named Director Jane Rotonda.
Rotonda joins the foundation staff with eight years’ experience at the nonprofit Wisconsin Public Radio, where she was most recently Ideas Network Project Manager and Executive Producer of The Larry Meiller Show. Prior to that, she was WPR’s On-Air Fundraising Manager.
Rotonda, who earned her B.A. from UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has extensive event planning, project management, and fundraising experience. She worked closely with numerous author guests on WPR programming, and her love of reading inspired her to found WPR’s first-ever book club.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead one of the country’s most reputable literary festivals,” said Rotonda, who grew up in western Michigan. “My immediate focus will be on sustaining and further cultivating author program excellence, and building more partnerships that increase event accessibility and continue to welcome underrepresented voices within our community.”
Rotonda succeeds Conor Moran, who was promoted to Madison Public Library Foundation Executive Director in December.
She will begin the 2023 season overseeing a spring lineup that includes local poets and authors, partnership events with UW-Madison’s Program in Creative Writing, Pulitzer Prize winners, and many best-selling authors. All events will be held at Central Library unless otherwise noted. The schedule includes:
- LOVE RELEASED AGAIN, a Black History Month event featuring local poet Fabu for We Eat to Remember: Poetry Soul Food, local novelist Sherry Lucile for Falling, and local writer Catrina J. Sparkman for Flight of the Blackbird – Sunday, February 19, 2 p.m.
- BROKEN: THE FAILED PROMISE OF MUSLIM INCLUSION by Dr. Evelyn Asultany, a leading expert on the history of representations of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media – Wednesday, March 15, 7 p.m.
- 2023 UW MFA POETRY GRADUATES READING, presented in partnership with the UW Madison Program in Creative Writing – Monday, March 20, 7 p.m.
- I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers – Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m.
- I WANT TO TELL YOU, the sixth poetry collection by UW-Madison Zona Gale Professor Emerita of English Jesse Lee Kercheval – Thursday, March 30, 7 p.m.
- ABOVE GROUND by National Book Critics Circle award winner and New York Times bestselling author Clint Smith, who wrote How the Word Is Passed – Monday, April 3, 7 p.m.
- CRYING IN H MART by singer-songwriter, GRAMMY Award winner, and New York Times best-selling author Michelle Zauner – Friday, April 7, 7 p.m., Barrymore Theatre
- BOOTSTRAPPED: LIBERATING OURSELVES FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM by Alissa Quart, in conversation with Shannon Kleiber – Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m.
- THINGS I WISH I TOLD MY MOTHER by UW-Madison alum and New York Times bestselling author Susan Patterson and Susan DiLallo, with James Patterson – Wednesday, April 12, 7 p.m.
- A FEVER IN THE HEARTLAND: THE KU KLUX KLAN’S PLOT TO TAKE OVER AMERICA, AND THE WOMAN WHO STOPPED THEM by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, New York Times best-selling author, and National Book Award winner Timothy Egan – Thursday, April 13, 7 p.m.
- LUNCH FOR LIBRARIES, with best-selling novelist Emily St. John Mandel speaking about her latest novel, Sea of Tranquility – Monday, April 17, noon, Monona Terrace (ticketed Madison Public Library Foundation fundraiser for the Wisconsin Book Festival and Madison Public Library youth literacy efforts)
- 2023 WISCONSIN INSTITUTE FOR WRITING FELLOWS READING, presented in partnership with UW-Madison’s Program in Creative Writing – Thursday, April 20, 7 p.m.
- THERE, THERE by PEN/Hemingway Award and American Book Award winner Tommy Orange, in partnership with UW-Madison’s Center for the Humanities – Monday, April 24, 7 p.m.
- THE TRADITION, Jericho Brown’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, presented in partnership with UW-Madison’s Program in Creative Writing – Thursday, April 27, 7 p.m.
- CREATIVE WRITING AWARDS CEREMONY, presented in partnership with UWMadison’s Program in Creative Writing – May 4, 7 p.m.
“I’m thrilled to be walking into my new position with such a well-rounded lineup of free, diverse author programs, from poetry to fiction to nonfiction,” Rotonda said. “I love the strong partnerships that have been created, like that forged with UW’s Program in Creative Writing. The return of UW alums like Susan Patterson and appearances of high-profile writers like Rebecca Makkai, Clint Smith, Jericho Brown, and Tommy Orange demonstrate that authors value and highly regard the Wisconsin Book Festival and our literary community.”
The Wisconsin Book Festival is presented by Madison Public Library in partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation. The foundation privately raises funds from corporate sponsors, individuals, and other organizations to staff the festival, pay for authors’ travel expenses, and provide free books to attendees of select events. All festival events are free with the exception of Lunch for Libraries.
Festival sponsors include: Signature Sponsor Marvin J. Levy; Presenting Sponsors Madison Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation; Festival Patron Cheryl Rosen Weston Estate; Contributing Sponsors American Girl Fund for Children, The Bass Family, Friends of UW-Madison Libraries, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., MG&E Foundation, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, and University Research Park; In-Kind Sponsors Park Hotel, A Room of One’s Own, and Wisconsin Historical Society; and Media Partners Isthmus, The Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal, and Wisconsin Public Radio.
About the Wisconsin Book Festival: Founded in 2001, The Wisconsin Book Festival features local literary talents alongside national voices to celebrate books and spark conversations among all ages. Attendees can discover new books or favorite writers, and enjoy unprecedented access to author discussions. For more information, visit
wisconsinbookfestival.org, on the festival's Facebook page, on Instagram (@wibookfest) and on Twitter (@wibookfestival)
About Madison Public Library: Madison Public Library is your place to learn, share, and create. It provides free and equitable access to cultural and educational experience, celebrates ideas, promotes creativity, connects people, and enriches lives. Learn more at madisonpubliclibrary.org, on the library's Facebook page, on Instagram (@madisonpubliclibrary) and on Twitter (@madisonlibrary)
About Madison Public Library Foundation: Madison Public Library Foundation mobilizes the Madison community to continuously improve, promote and support Madison Public Library. Learn more at mplfoundation.org, on the foundation’s Facebook page, on Instagram (@mplfoundation) and on Twitter (@mplfoundation).
- Tana Elias, Marketing Manager, Madison Public Library, 608-266-4953, firstname.lastname@example.org