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Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic have led organizers to cancel this year’s West Virginia Book Festival.

Hosted by the Kanawha County Public Library, the popular free festival draws thousands from all over the area to meet well-known authors, attend workshops and shop for used books.

This year’s festival had been scheduled for Oct. 2-3 at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.

Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2017 and 2020 Pulitzer Prizes for fiction for his novels “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys,” respectively, was to have appeared as the featured speaker.

The festival also would have featured children’s author Jon Scieszka; author and journalist Douglas Preston; author and songwriter Josh Malerman, who wrote the thriller “Bird Box;” as well as West Virginia author Denise Giardina and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eric Eyre.

Eyre, a former Gazette-Mail reporter, recently published “Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic.”

Ann M. Martin, author of the “Baby-Sitters Club” series of books, originally had been scheduled to headline the festival, but she canceled in April over an unspecified personal conflict with her appearance in Charleston.

In a release, Erika Connelly, the new director for the KCPL, said the library is disappointed to cancel the festival, but added, “The health and safety of our volunteers, presenters and guests is our top priority and must take precedence during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Organizers said they hope to reschedule the guests from the 2020 festival for next year, which is scheduled for the Coliseum & Convention Center on Oct. 22-23, 2021.

Reach Bill Lynch at

lynch@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5195 or follow @lostHwys on Twitter. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap and read his blog at

blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth.