Books still thrive in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Currents | 9/14/2014 | 0 comments

In an age when seemingly everything is on digital screens, the Brooklyn Book Festival celebrates the still-vibrant ink-on-paper printed word.

The festival – set for Sunday, Sept. 21, following a week of "Bookends" events starting Monday, Sept. 15 -- brings more than 100 panel discussions, readings and other literary activities to the borough.

Bestselling authors Salman Rushdie, Lev Grossman, Naomi Klein and hundreds more will take part in the city's largest free literary festival, now celebrating is ninth year. Four outdoor stages and eight indoor venues around Borough Hall will feature literary stars along with  debut authors; writers from over 16 countries including Cuba, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Somalia and Haiti; a wealth of graphic novelists including Paul Pope, Roz Chast and Julia Wertz; and a roster of poets including Poets Laureates past and present.

The festival's newly launched website will enable visitors to navigate all Bookend and festival events, along with author bios and vendor locations on every device including tablets, cell phones and computers. The mobilized website is highly integrated to allow easy access to schedules, descriptions, and all other festival information.

"Year Nine and kicking at the Brooklyn Book Festival as we continue our mission to produce a free annual world-class literary festival that appeals to huge audiences young and old, New Yorkers and visitors alike," said Johnny Temple, chairman of the Brooklyn Literary Council. Our pride is our diversity of cutting-edge and iconic authors who grace our stages every year."

Key panels this year include programs on laughter, loss and happiness. "Comedians as Authors" will be presented on the main stage with Bob Saget and John Leguizamo, moderated by Mary Karr. Happiness will be discussed by Gretchen Rubin, Dan Harris and Eric G. Wilson and New York luminaries Roz Chast and Robert Mankoff will be in conversation on The Hilarity of Death and Dying. Creativity across cultures threads its way through the festival, including Jonathan Lethem and Jules Feiffer in conversation about the power of satire; Creativity and Chaos with Philippe Petit, Haitian author Franketienne and Geek Sublime author Vikram Chandra; book cover gurus Chip Kidd and Peter Mendelsund in conversation about design; Poetic Visions with virtuoso comic book creators Charles Burns, Eleanor Davis and Paul Pope; and a lively discussion between Mark Doty, Matthea Harvey, and Danny Simmons on the intersection between poetry and other art forms. 

Renowned authors Francine Prose, Paul Auster and Joyce Carol Oates join for a panel on "Influence of the Real;" Salman Rushdie, Siri Hustvedt and debut novelist Catherine Lacey read and speak on "The Writer's Life;" "Unbound with programming partner BAM and Greenlight Bookstore will feature Daniel Kehlmann and Zadie Smith in conversation; inventive fiction from international authors is the focus of "Science and Speculation" with Naja Marie Aidt, Lauren Beukes and Deji Olukotun. Non-fiction programs of note include "Mandela: An American Perspective" with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Alan Wieder and Sean Jacobs; Darryl Pinckney discussing voting rights in a program presented by the New York Review of Books, and Naomi Klein and Betsey Reed in conversation about Klein's new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. 

The festival presents programs for all ages. Readers can hear Newbery Award winner Rebecca Stead talk about the charm and lure of New York City; R. L. Stine reveal what's funny about zombies and fifth grade; bestselling author Jon Scieszka discuss sparkle spas and kung-fu with Jill Santopolo and Lenore Look; and New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman, Una LaMarche, and National Book Finalist Adele Griffin invite audience participation in a lively round of readers' theatre, adapted from their bestselling and acclaimed novels, among a host of other panels and events. Perennial teen favorite, Scott Westerfeld, will discuss fantastical worlds with debut author C.J. Farley and Cara Lynn Shultz. 

For book-o-philes, the festival's Literary Marketplace welcomes presses and magazines from across the country, literary organizations and Brooklyn's best independent publishers including Melville House, Archipelago, and Akashic Books as well as an array of children's publishers and comics publishers including Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics and TOON Books. 

This year's festival will again take place at Brooklyn Borough Hall; nearby venues include the Columbus Park, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, and St. Francis College. Considered to be one of the country's premier book festivals, this hip, smart, diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages. More than 40,000 visitors and media from around the world converged at the festival last September, with thousands more attending the week of Bookend events throughout the Borough.

The Brooklyn Book Festival is presented by the non-profit Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Literary Council, with major financial support from AT&T. The festival's cultural and programming partners are BAM, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn Public Library, Cave Canem, National Book Foundation, New York Review of Books, Pen American Center, Poetry Society of America, St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, St. Francis College, and The Nation magazine.

For more information about the Brooklyn Book Festival, visit, or go to the official Facebook page and follow the Festival @bkbf.


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