Downtown

Brooklyn Book Festival features Rushdie, Auster, other literary stars

September 21, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Book Festival. Photo by  Eugena Ossi

Events center around Brooklyn Borough Hall

The Brooklyn Book Festival kicked off on Sunday with more than 100 panel discussions, readings and other literary activities.

Internationally renowned and bestselling authors Salman Rushdie, Paul Auster, Lev Grossman, Joyce Carol Oates and hundreds are taking part part in the event, which is the city’s largest free literary festival, now celebrating its ninth year. Four outdoor stages and eight indoor venues around Borough Hall feature literary luminaries, along with acclaimed debut authors; writers from more than 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 Laureate Past and Present with Rita Dove, Tina Chang and Ramya Ramana.

More than 40,000 visitors and media from around the world are expected.

“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. Our pride is our diversity of cutting-edge and iconic authors who grace our stages every year,” said Johnny Temple, chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council.

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.

Literary powerhouses 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 at The Writer’s Life panel; 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 NYT 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 takes place at Brooklyn Borough Hall and nearby venues including the Columbus Park, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, and St. Francis College.

The Brooklyn Book Festival is presented by the non-profit Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Literary Council. 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.

The event is also supported by AT&T.  

For more information about the Brooklyn Book Festival, including the full schedule of events, visit www.brooklynbookfestival.org, check out the official Facebook page and follow the Festival @bkbf.