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Brooklyn Book Festival unveils 2019 lineup

June 20, 2019 Alex Williamson
Bibliophiles turn out in huge crowds for the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

Good news, bibliophiles: the Brooklyn Book Festival is returning Sept. 16-23, and the roster for the event’s 14th installment is shaping up to be as diverse and packed with literary heavyweights as the borough it calls home.

So far, more than 150 authors are slated to take part in BKBF, including big names in lit like Joyce Carol Oates, Marlon James and Jonathan Safran Foer, festival co-producers Carolyn Greer and Liz Koch announced Wednesday night at the Center for Fiction.

The number of participating authors is expected to grow to as many as 300 by the time the festival rolls around.

Festival Day and the Literary Marketplace will be held on Sept. 22, with nearly 100 programs from authors spanning various genres and career paths across 14 stages in the vicinity of Borough Hall. Readers will get the chance to discover new books, get them autographed and attend panels with subjects ranging from race and sexuality, to immigration and climate change.  

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The eclectic programming is meant to give BKBF, “something to offer every global citizen, young or old,” Brooklyn Literary Council Chairperson Johnny Temple said in a statement.

For the fifth year, BKBF will host its Children’s Day at MetroTech Commons on Sept. 21. Young readers can watch illustrators compete onstage, dress up as their favorite characters, partake in writing workshops and meet the authors and artists behind the books they love. The big-name attractions for this year’s Children’s Day include Raúl Colón, the illustrator chosen to design the 2019 BKBF poster, Nick Bruel, Sarah Miynowski, Grace Lin and Ibi Zoboi.

Children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems is this year’s BoBi Award recipient, Koch announced. The honor is bestowed annually on an author whose work “speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn.” Past recipients include N.K. Jemisin, Colson Whitehead, Pete Hamill and John Ashbery.

Willems, the three-time Caldecott Honor-winning author of “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” and “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale” was selected as a nod to the festival’s fifth anniversary of its popular Children’s Day event, according to BKBF Vice President Liz Koch.


“We felt it would be a wonderful moment to honor an iconic children’s book author,” Koch said.

A full week of “Bookend” events are also on the agenda. These events take place across all five boroughs in the lead-up to Festival Day, and are produced through partnerships between the festival and cultural institutions across the city.

This year’s Bookends will include ‘Rum and Reason’ at the Caribbean Cultural Theatre, a workshop on empowerment and activism from the Langston Hughes House and a canoe tour of the Gowanus Canal hosted by the Dredgers Club, featuring Walt Whitman readings.

The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office to establish a “major literary event that embraced the diverse constituencies of New York City.” The festival programs are free and open to the public.

See the full lineup here


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