As Baltimore prepares to close the chapter on 2022 and crack open 2023, we’re flipping back to the top literary news of the past 12 months. From written works being adapted for the screen, to the debut novel of a Baltimore icon, this year was one for the books.

Book Festival Department: The Baltimore Book Festival, last held in 2019, has no plans to resume until at least 2024, at which point it will likely move away from the Inner Harbor. Meanwhile, booklovers are finding other opportunities to gather. Greedy Reads held a Lost Weekend Festival at their Remington store in May, featuring Danielle Evans, Jeannie Vanasco, Barbara Bourland, and many other local and visiting authors. Next year we can look forward to the first-ever Waverly Book Festival in April 2023.

Baltimore on the Shelf: Several angles on life in our city made their way into the world this year. In memoir: Shelter, by Lawrence Jackson; Black Boy Smile, by D. Watkins; and Inheritance, by Baynard Woods. A group of thirty-five local authors contributed to The Baltimore Anthology, edited by Gary M. Almeter and Baltimore Fishbowl columnist Rafael Alvarez.

Screens Big and Small: Laura Lippman’s mystery “Lady in the Lake” filmed in Baltimore, bringing Natalia Portman to town for the Apple TV production. Meanwhile, on HBO, the series based on “We Own This City” by local reporter Justin Fenton ran to critical raves — 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Eyes on the Prize: Local independent publisher Mason Jar Press is in the process of judging the entries for their new 1729 Book Prize in Prose. So that the writers did not have to pay a submission fee, the Ivy Bookshop sponsored this prize, and some of their booksellers are helping judge the early rounds, with the final selection made by novelist Diane Zinna. The winner will be published in 2024. 

CityLit’s Wunderjahr: Under the direction of Executive Director Carla Dupree, the organization put on a month-long edition of the annual CityLit Festival featuring The 1619 Project, and this fall held its inaugural Write Like a Mother Retreat, where mothers across the country and state were invited to gather with Baltimore creatives. To top it off, CityLit was one of 39 organizations to score a $50,000 Equity in Verse grant from the Poetry Foundation

John Waters Department: Local icon John Waters delighted his fans with his first-ever literary novel, “Liarmouth.” Scores of devotees lined up outside Atomic Books in Hampden to help Waters kick off his coast-to-coast book tour, and now wait eagerly for the film adaptation of the book, which Waters is slated to write and direct. Since one of the book’s characters is a talking penis, CGI may be involved. 

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Marion Winik

University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik is the author of "The Big Book of the Dead,” “First Comes Love,” and several other books, and the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her...