For a recording of our main Oct. 2nd Festival Activities including a Master class by Barbara Kingsolver  CLICK HERE:

The Festival seeks to honor the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and those of prominent American literary artists and to support, encourage, and assist aspiring and emerging writers and students interested in the literary arts.

The centerpiece of the Literary Festival is the presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature to a prominent American writer, who is present to give a reading and a master class. Over the years, many of the most distinguished American literary figures of the last half century have been honored. The 2020 recipient was Barbara Kingsolver. The 2020 Festival was held virtually, with events on September 24, October 2, and October 3.

On the evening of October 2 at 8 p.m., the Festival co-sponsored with Politics & Prose Bookstore a reading by Barbara Kingsolver from her new book, How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons). The activities on October 3 included morning and afternoon writing workshops designed for both emerging and established fiction and non-fiction writers; a Master Class with Barbara Kingsolver; a talk on “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Rockville” by historian Eileen McGuckian; and an Awards Ceremony, which featured a reading by Barbara Kingsolver.

The 2020 Festival also sponsored two short story contests: a Student Contest open to Montgomery County high school students and an Adult Contest open to residents of Maryland, DC, and Virginia. The winners and two runners-up in each contest were announced and awarded cash prizes at a virtual ceremony on the evening of September 24, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 124th birthday. That evening’s activities also featured a conversation on “Gatsby Set Loose in the Public Domain: What’s Next?” with Kirk Curnutt, Executive Director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society,  James L. W. West III., General Editor Emeritus of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jackson R. Bryer, President of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.




2020 Honoree

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985.




2020 Keynote Speaker & Special Guest

Clint Smith is a writer, teacher, and Emerson Fellow at New America. He is the author of the poetry collection, Counting Descent, and the forthcoming nonfiction book How the Word Is Passed. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He received his B.A. from Davidson College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.


Now Complete

Festival Schedule

September 17 Completed Event 

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Book Club Discussion: Barbara Kingsolver's Unsheltered

Hosted by Montgomery County Public Libraries Twinbrook Branch.

September 24  Short Story Competition Reading

Completed Event -Click on video replay below

6:00 - 7:30 p.m.


Presentation of the Winner and Runners-Up in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Student Short Story


Davina T. Smith

Presentation of the Winner and Runners-Up in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest

Nathanael Brown

7:30 - 8:30 p.m.  


Panel Discussion: "Gatsby at Large in the Public Domain: What's Next?"

Jackson R. Bryer

Kirk Curnutt

James L. W. West III

October 2

8:00 - 9:00 p.m.


Barbara Kingsolver reading from her new book, How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

Co-sponsored with Politics & Prose Bookstore



October 3   Click here for more detailed information about the 2020 workshops content and leaders


9:00-10:30 a.m.

Morning Workshops (For registered people)

Tara Campbell: "It's All About Us: Diversity in Speculative Fiction" (Fiction)

Margaret Talbot: "Making Memoir Matter" (Non-Fiction)

Mary Kay Zuravleff: "How Far Can One Word Take You?" (Fiction)

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Student Workshop

Making Meaning: Your Words Matter

10:50 - 11:00 a.m. (NO registration needed)

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Roberta S. Mandrekas, President, F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference, Inc.

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m (NO registration needed)

Master Class on writing

Barbara Kingsolver

1:00 - 1:30 p.m. (No registration needed)

Keynote Talk 

Clint Smith

1:30 - 3:00 p.m. (No registration needed)

Awards Ceremony

Recognition of Montgomery County High School Fitzgerald Scholars

Davina T. Smith

Introduction of Barbara Kingsolver

Clint Smith

Presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature

Roberta S. Mandrekas

Acceptance and Reading

Barbara Kingsolver

3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon Workshops (For registered people)

Caroline Bock: "Exploring Home" (Fiction)

Tope Folarin: "Creating a Template for Success: On the Importance of Structuring Narratives" (Fiction)

E. Ethelbert Miller: "Writing the Memoir During a Period of Climate Change and Personal Transformation" (Non-Fiction)

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Student Masterclass

Student Master Class with Barbara Kingsolver

3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Teacher Workshop

Creating More Inclusive Reading Experiences: Moving Toward Antiracism in the Classroom

3:15 - 4:15 p.m.   

Illustrated Talk: "F. Scott Fitzgerald's Rockville: Rockville in the 1920s"

Eileen McGuckian