Fall always provides an extra bounce into the city’s collective step. It is the season when New Yorkers gear up for some of the most anticipated events of the year. As usual, there will be a bevy from which to choose. Comic Com is right around the corner as is the New York Film Festival. Many others, too numerous to cite here, will also be elbowing for some love and affection. One that is penciled down on the calendar for many is the Brooklyn Book Festival. This year’s edition will not disappoint. For their 10-year anniversary, they have assembled their biggest, most ambitious production to date.
By the early to mid-2000s, it had become quite apparent to anyone living in New York that Brooklyn had become home to a good chunk of the city’s writers and employees of the publishing industry. None of this was lost on the then borough president, Marty Markowitz, who seized on the opportunity by starting the festival in 2006. Initially created to champion all things Brooklyn, it has since morphed and grown from a small group of Brooklyn-based writers into an internationally recognized event. The festival now attracts hundreds of the most respected writers in the world and over 30,000 bibliophiles annually.
This year’s festival is kicking off on September 14th in grand fashion with Bookend Events. It is a weeklong celebration of all things literary, with over 50 unique and special events all around town. There will be literary parties, book launches, books-to-film screening events, trivia contests and performances in parks, clubs, libraries and independent bookstores throughout the city. Some highlights include Pitch-A-Palooza, a giant book pitching event in which writers have to convey their concept in one minute or less; an independent bookstore party at Greenlight Books; a DJ Party at The Bell House; and a multi-media event involving apocalyptic literature at The Nitehawk Cinema. The Brooklyn Public Library will also be hosting the first annual Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize in fiction and nonfiction. This annual honor will be bestowed upon authors who embody the spirit of Brooklyn. The event will take place at BookCourt on the final evening of the festival.
For the first time since its inception, the children’s portion of the Brooklyn Book Festival has shifted a day earlier to Saturday, September 19th. It will be hosted on the beautiful grounds of Metro Tech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn from 10 A.M. until 4 P.M. The day’s activities will revolve around two tented stages and the auditorium and classrooms of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. There will be readings, signings and interactive activities for the children throughout the campus and grounds. Workshops will be staged on a number of interesting topics: pop-up books, technology, music and finance. Some of the highlights include a discussion on learning how to tell a good story and watching some of the best children’s book illustrators in their field participate in a no-holds-barred drawing competition.
The main event for the Brooklyn Book Festival will be held on Sunday, September 20th. It will take place at the Brooklyn Borough Hall. Local colleges, churches, and nearby courtrooms will be assisting with venue space for some of the larger events. Most of these happenings will be outdoors under tents and on the steps of Borough Hall, weather permitting. Over 150 artists are expected to participate in over 90 programs. There will be readings, interviews, panel discussions, signings and workshops. Over 200 independent bookstores, publishers and literary advocates will be selling their wares and services to a very word-hungry public.
This year’s lineup may be the best they have ever assembled. It includes: Russell Banks, Augustine Burroughs, Robert Christgau, Edwidge Danticat, Nelson George, Pete Hamill, A.M Homes, Dennis Lehane, John Leguizamo, Jonathan Lethem, Terry McMillan, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie, Luc Sante, Jim Shepard, David Simon, Tracy K. Smith and Adrian Tomine.
With so many events/activities going on, at multiple venues, sometimes simultaneously, the festival can be a little intimidating. To ease this factor, the festival provides maps, event sheets and information desks. This enables event-goers to have an easier and more pleasurable experience at this great event, which in turn makes them look forward to returning in the future.
Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 802 3700
One Metro Tech, 1 MetroTech Roadway, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 817 875 1780
By Michael McGrath
Michael McGrath is a life long New Yorker and has the scars to prove it. He lives with his wonderful wife and know-it-all son in Brooklyn.