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Author Pavilion – Featuring Headlining Authors

Thank you for attending the 2022 DSM Book Festival!

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Celebrate your favorite authors with us at the DSM Book Festival! From our famous locals to internationally-acclaimed writers, join us to hear about their inspirations for their well-loved and well-read books.

The DSM Book Festival takes place annually at Capital Square, 400 Locust Street, in Downtown Des Moines (DSM).

2022 Headlining Authors

Be a Festival VIP

Enjoy the headlining authors as a VIP! From an autographed bookplate to reserved seating and a free commemorative item, a VIP Pass is a great way to experience The Festival! Learn more here.

Imbolo Mbue, Author of "Behold the Dreamers" and "How Beautiful We Were"  |  10 a.m.


Imbolo Mbue's stunning debut, the New York Times bestseller "Behold the Dreamers," was an Oprah's Book Club selection and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In this "quintessentially American" work (NPR), she explores marriage, immigration, class, race and the trapdoors in the American Dream through the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

"Behold the Dreamers" has been translated into 11 languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a miniseries. The novel was also named one of the "Best Book(s) of the Year" by the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and the Chicago Public Library, among others.

Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon and a graduate of Rutgers University and Columbia.

Dawnie Walton, Author of "The Final Revival of Opal & Nev" – Sponsored by Kum & Go  |  Noon


Dawnie Walton is a fiction writer and journalist whose work explores identity, place and the influence of pop culture. Walton has won fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Tin House Summer Workshop and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Previously, she worked as an executive-level editor for magazine and multimedia brands, including Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Getty Images, and LIFE.

In "The Final Revival of Opal & Nev," Opal Jewel is the proudly Black, female, in-your-face-with-her-opinions, Afro-punk pioneer the author wished she'd had the opportunity to idolize when she was 14 and obsessed with rock music. The result is an electric, kaleidoscopic journey told in an oral-history structure of the rise and fall of the fictional early-1970s rock 'n' roll duo Opal & Nev. But underneath the colorful characters, bumping concerts and wild wardrobes, "The Final Revival of Opal & Nev" is a study of gender disparities, race relations, class, infidelity, tragedy and moral choices on the road to fame and success.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Walton lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.

Sponsored By:


Stephanie Land, Author of "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Way to Survive" – Sponsored by United Way's Women United  |  3 p.m.


At 28 years old, Stephanie Land's dream of attending college and becoming a writer was deferred when she and her seven-month-old had to move into a homeless shelter after fleeing a violent home without any form of a reliable safety net. She then began the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for food stamps and subsidized housing and started cleaning houses for $9 an hour. After years of barely scraping by, Land graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Montana in 2014 and started a career as a freelance writer. Her essay for Vox, "I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich" when viral and was later expanded to become her New York Times bestselling memoir "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive." Land's story also serves as the inspiration for Netflix's Critic's Choice nominated original series "Maid," starring Margaret Qualley, alongside Andie MacDowell, Nick Robinson and Anika Noni Rose.

Land has written several essays about economic and social justice, domestic abuse, chronic illness and motherhood. She has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic and The New York Review of Books, among many other outlets. A writing fellow at the Center for Community Change, Land has also worked with Barbara Ehrenreich at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Sponsored By:


Angeline Boulley, Author of "Firekeeper's Daughter" – Sponsored by AVID  |  5 p.m.


Angelina Boulley's riveting novel "Firekeeper's Daughter," focuses on a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal named Daunis Fontaine who has never quite fit in — both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When her family is struck by tragedy, Daunis puts her dreams on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming recruit on her brother's hockey team.

After Daunis witnesses a shocking murder that thrusts her into a criminal investigation, she agrees to go undercover. But the deceptions — and deaths — keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. How far will she go to protect her community if it means tearing apart the only world she's ever known?

"Firekeeper's Daughter" is Boulley's debut novel and was an instant #1 New York Times Bestseller. It also won the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children's Literature in the teen category.

Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Boulley lives in southwest Michigan, but her home will always be on Sugar Island.

Sponsored By: