11th annual Brooklyn Book Festival promises to be the biggest yet

August 30, 2016 Jaime DeJesus
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Brooklyn book lovers, rejoice!

The Brooklyn Book Festival has returned for the 11th straight year, with more in store for bookworms of every kind. Beginning on Monday, September 12 will be a series of Bookends, special events that will feature more authors than previous years, in a variety of locations around the borough. On Saturday, September 17, Children’s Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MetroTech Commons, and the annual event will culminate on Sunday, September 18, when the main festival will be held at and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Brooklyn Book Festival has a credo, which is hip, smart and diverse,” said Carolyn Greer, co-producer of the festival. “We try to make programs as different as possible so you will find every kind of author and voice at the festival. We have to be inclusive to all kinds of people who live and breathe in New York City.”

This year’s diversity will be greater than ever. “Every year is different. I like to think of it as having a restaurant with all kinds of menus every season,” said Greer. “We have iconic authors and new talent making their debut at the festival.”

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Authors will be traveling from 20 different countries so that the event is represented internationally as well as nationally and locally, according to Greer.

Brooklyn native and author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sweetness Sande Boritz Berger will be making her first appearance at the popular festival and is excited about it. “The exposure of so many authors and so many books is tremendous for the public and literary industry and people who love to read,” she said. “It helps libraries. It encourages the idea that books aren’t dead, whether it’s e-books or print. We’ve heard rumors that bookstores are closing. Books remain strong.”

Berger’s novel takes place in Brooklyn during World War II and was inspired by true events. “The theme of the novel is survivor guilt. It’s a parallel story of two families that are related,” she explained. “The parallels are with two Jewish girls, cousins, living on separate continents, whose strikingly different lives promise to converge.” The two are “Brooklyn-born Mira Kane and her eight-year-old cousin Rosha Kaninsky, the lone survivor of a family abroad exterminated by the invading Nazis, though her American relatives don’t know she’s alive,” said Berger.

The book has sold over 25,000 copies and has been nominated for the Sophie Brody Award from the American Library Association. “The biggest thrill for me is when someone comes up to you and tells you that I touched them with the book,” she said.

One of the highlights of the week-long event is Children’s Day, said Greer, pointing out that added activities such as face painting, and arts and crafts will take place with the theme of specific children’s literature.

“A day devoted to children is a wonderful thing so they are exposed to reading early,” said Berger. “It gets them off their devices.”

According to Greer, the festival has continued to build on its success with each passing year. “It just keeps on getting bigger,” she said, adding that organizers listen to attendees to adapt to the event’s growing popularity.

“In the literary community, authors and publishers get excited and send more submissions,” she explained. “We kind of do it strategically. Last year, it was our first children’s day. Parents wanted to find a way not to split time and miss adult programs. Now on two days, we have your turn the next day. It has grown organically.”

Author appearances include Ralph Nader, Patti Smith, Ann Patchett, Steve Buscemi, Rivka Galchen, Tanwi Nandini Islam, Mike Lupica, Susan Faludi, Walton Muyumba, Carl Hancock Rux, Olive Senior, R.L. Stine, Cecily von Ziegesar, Yaghoub Yadali and more. Borough President Eric Adams will also be in attendance to discuss several topics, including gentrification.

For a full schedule, visit www.brooklynbookfestival.org.

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