Beyond 12 Years: Solomon, Sue, Lou and Steve


The Louisiana Book Festival will host Frank Eakin and Louis Gossett Jr. for “Beyond 12 Years: Solomon, Sue, Lou and Steve” Nov. 2 at its 10th annual celebration of readers, writers and their books. The program, scheduled for 1 p.m. in the House Chamber of the State Capitol, will explore the significance of Twelve Years a Slave from when it was released in 1853 through today as a movie capable of reaching a global audience.

Twelve Years a Slave was written by Solomon Northup, who was born a free man in New York but was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He spent 12 years working under cruel planters in Louisiana. Northup wrote a memoir recounting his experiences and never-ending efforts to reunite with his family.

Sue Eakin, a history professor at LSU-Alexandria, spent her career validating the events of the book using courthouse records and personal stories. She published a final definitive edition in 2007.

Frank Eakin said his mother discovered an original edition of Twelve Years a Slave while visiting a neighbor’s home as a young girl. She was fascinated with the story because it took place in central Louisiana, where she grew up, and many names were familiar.

A new enhanced e-book edition that includes new information, images and maps will be released just in time for the festival.

Award-winning actor and humanitarian Louis Gossett Jr. narrated an audiobook version of Twelve Years a Slave in 2013 that Frank Eakin produced. Gossett will incorporate into the discussion his autobiography, An Actor and a Gentleman.

In October 2013, a movie based on the book directed by Steve McQueen and starring Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor will be released. It is already garnering rave reviews at film festivals.

Frank Eakin said the attention the movie will bring to Northrup’s story represents an opportunity for discussion on racial issues and modern slavery in the form of human trafficking.

The Louisiana Book Festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 in downtown Baton Rouge. It is free and open to the public.

The Louisiana Book Festival is co-sponsored by the Office of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne; the Louisiana Center for the Book; the Louisiana Library Foundation; the State Library of Louisiana; and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Visit for more information.


Frank Eakin

Frank Eakin is executive producer of Eakin Films and Publishing. His current project is the audiobook, e-book and paperback of Twelve Years a Slave, the slave narrative that became the lifetime project of his mother, noted writer and historian Sue Eakin, who completed her final definitive edition at age 88 in 2007. The audiobook is performed by Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr., and was recognized as an Amazon/Audible Best of 2013 Editor's Pick and Downpour/BBC Editor's Pick.

Louis Gossett Jr.

Louis Gossett Jr. is an icon in the world of entertainment. He has received many awards including an Academy Award, for his unforgettable performance as Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman and an Emmy for his outstanding role as Fiddler in the historic series Roots. Lou’s real passion is his Eracism Foundation in an all-out conscious offensive against racism, violence, ignorance and social apathy.



Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.

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