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The Las Vegas Book Festival throws itself a 20th birthday party

The Las Vegas Book Festival celebrates its 20th year on Saturday, and it is celebrating by hearing from literary giants like Fran Lebowitz and Sandra Cisneros as its headliners.

Events include discussions, meets-and-greets with authors, cooking demonstrations, and poetry readings and are held at the Historic Fifth Street School downtown.

“There's a very lively and very generative literary community here of writers and readers,” said Las Vegas writer and bookseller Nicholas Russell, who will participate in a book festival panel discussion on new ways to write about Las Vegas.

“We have very robust local publications,” he said, with writers capable of “pushing back on the same sort of stereotypes.”

“There has been a sense of pushback from local writers about the way that people write about Las Vegas, … parachute journalists from like New York Times or the LA Times who come in to write a piece about their weekend or something and then talk about how weird Vegas is.”

Russell told State of Nevada the local literary community did suffer a setback recently with  the closing of UNLV’s literary magazine The Believer.

The university’s Black Mountain Institute announced the closure in early October, five months after editor Joshua Wolf Shenk quit following an episode of Zoom-meeting nudity.

"I think that the loss of The Believer is devastating," Russell said.

"The loss of The Believer is something that I think a lot of people will write off as something that is not that big of a deal, but in the landscape we're in right now, where print media is scarce in places that are not New York and LA, where it is very rare and difficult to find good quality writing and editing on any level, whether it's in print or online — it's just a real shame."

​Nicholas Russell, Las Vegas writer, bookseller

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.