Brooklyn Book Festival: Our guides for foodies, fanboys and more
The Brooklyn Book Festival isn’t labeled the largest free literary event in New York City for nothing. The annual gathering boasts 100 programs featuring 300 authors across 13 locations.
With so many events, it can be overwhelming to choose which ones to attend — so we’ve narrowed it down for you.
Here’s what to see at this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival if you’re…
- Apt to spend your Friday evening wandering the Trader Joe’s produce aisle
- A true crime podcast junkie
- A Sunday cartoon page aficionado
- Preparing for Hispanic Heritage Month
- Terrible at making small talk at parties
And if you contain multitudes — much like a certain former editor of the Brooklyn Eagle — you can find a full list of events here.
For the foodie:
Nothing goes with a good book like a good meal. If you love cooking and dining — the food, the setting, the company — here are the panels you should check out.
Redefining American Cuisine
What does ‘American’ cuisine mean today, when demographics are changing more rapidly, formerly obscure ingredients are available at most supermarkets or online, and a growing number of Americans cook only for themselves?
Academic and author Paul Freedman (“American Cuisine: And How It Got This Way”), and cookbook authors Priya Krishna (“Indian-ish”) and Klancy Miller (“Cooking Solo”) talk with author and food writer Charlotte Druckman (“Women on Food”) about old misperceptions and new pleasures in what we call the American table.
Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. at the Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
Cooking Across Borders
Long relegated as the exotic or unfamiliar, international culinary traditions have become part of the contemporary American culinary vernacular. Meanwhile, these cultures frequently remain misunderstood at best and flattened into one dimension at worst.
Chef Sohui Kim of Red Hook’s The Good Fork (“Korean Home Cooking”), A Brown Table’s Nik Sharma (“Season”), and human rights activist and cookbook author Yasmin Khan (“Zaitoun”) talk with Smitten Kitchen creator Deb Perelman (“Smitten Kitchen Every Day”) about how international cuisine maintains the integrity of its flavors and identity even as it adapted for a new audience.
Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
How We Eat at Home
We live in an age when no one has time to cook, but everyone seems to have higher expectations of food — for sustenance and entertainment.
New York Times contributing writer Alison Roman (“Dining In,” forthcoming “Nothing Fancy”), Chef Anita Lo (“Solo”), and Bon Appetit food director Carla Lalli Music (“Where Cooking Begins”) speak with Daily Beast editor and food writer Pervaiz Shallwani about how they are reimagining — and reintroducing — what it means to cook for yourself, for your family, or for a crowd.
Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St. More info here.
For the crime junkie:
If you are passionate about crime, policing and criminal justice reform, these are the your must-see events at the festival.
What wouldn’t you do for the sake of your family?
Debut novelists Nicholas Mancusi (“A Philosophy of Ruin”) and Lauren Wilkinson (“American Spy”) and the prolific master Joyce Carol Oates (“My Life as A Rat”) discuss their new novels which test the limit of family bonds and the law. Moderated by Ryan Chapman (“Riots I Have Known”).
Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon St. More info here.
Aftermath: After Americans Kill Americans
The tragedy of mass shootings and unjust murders in America leave communities in shock, families and friends devastated and saddens, frightens and shames us. Moving forward is about personal choices and accountability.
Dave Cullen (“Parkland”) investigates how Parkland students organized student protests and marches against gun violence and called out America. Reverend Anthony B. Thompson (“Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim’s Husband and the Path to Healing”) shares how and why he and his congregation chose to practice forgiveness and how it heals. DeRay Mckesson (“On The Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope”) discusses his path of activism after racial injustices like Ferguson and his work with the Black Lives Matter movement. Moderated by Jenna Flanagan, host of MetroFocus.
Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St. More info here.
The Streets Are Burning: Crackdowns and Breakdowns
How quickly the world we know can crumble.
In Karina Sainz Borgo’s “It Would be Night in Caracas,” one woman fights to survive as tear gas fills the streets of Venezuela’s capital. In the slums of Rio de Janeiro, the boys of Geovani Martins’ debut story collection, “The Sun on My Head,” live in the shadow of police, poverty, and violence. And in “’68,” Paco Ignacio Taibo II gives a harrowing firsthand account of the night two hundred students were shot dead in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Square. Moderated by Eric M.B. Becker, “Words Without Borders.
Sept. 22 at 11 a.m., Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon St. More info here.
For the comic book buff:
If you’re into comics, graphic novels and memoirs or just love a good illustration, there’s something at the Brooklyn Book Festival for you. Here’s what you might want to pencil in (pun intended.)
Everything is Horrible: Comics as Satire and Witness
A psychedelic chronicle of 1970s New York paves the road for even trippier Washington D.C. satire; a meditation on casual bigotry feeds a gentrification horror story; and a daily conversation in an African hotel blossoms into the epic survival story of one of Guantanamo Bay’s youngest detainees.
Ben Passmore (“BTTM FDRS”), Jérôme Tubiana (“Guántanamo Kid”), andMark Alan Stamaty (“MacDoodle St.”) discuss the art of stepping outside reality in order to depict it. Moderated bySarah Glidden (“Rolling Blackouts”).
Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
Anxious in Public: Serious (and/or Hilarious) Comics About Real-Life Tough Stuff
These three cartoonists have won over legions of online fans as they take their truth from the digital to the printed page. Through wonderfully relatable cartoon posts, they’ve told never-ending stories of serious life transitions — about living with mental illness, how relationships develop day-to-day, and how the body and mind transform on the road to becoming a mother. Some of it’s surprising, some of it’s funny, some of it’s poignant, and parts will break your heart.
Join Catana Chetwynd (“Little Moments of Love”), Adam Ellis (“Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously”) and Lucy Knisley (“Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos”). Moderated by cartoonist Connie Sun.
Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. St. Francis College Founder’s Hall, 180 Remsen St. More info here.
“The Living City: Graphic Narratives on Place, People, and Soundtracks”
In these graphic works, cities are a character, as much as the vivid lives they hold.
Join a discussion between Summer Pierre, 2019 Eisner-Award nominee for “All the Sad Songs,” her memoir and travelogue drawn with a unique soundtrack; Ted Fox, whose classic “Showtime at the Apollo” is now a graphic tribute drawn by James Otis Smith; and Frank Santoro, who in “Pittsburgh” charts the unraveling and attempts at reconstruction of both his family and their city. Moderated by Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly.
Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
We Need to Talk
The age of division has reawakened the art of conversation. Which doesn’t make it any easier! In three breathtakingly honest new graphic memoirs, Erin Williams (“Commute”), Mira Jacob (“Good Talk”), and Ebony Flowers (“Hot Comb”) draw — literally—on the experience of pushing themselves and others to speak truth to race, gender, and class privilege in everyday life. Moderated by Alexander Chee (“How to Write an Autobiographical Novel”).
Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Great Hall, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
Feed Your Head
When life is messy and makes no sense going forwards or backwards in time, why be tidy about how we cope?
David Heatley (“Qualification”), Kevin Huizenga (“The River at Night”), Kelsey Wroten (“Cannonball”), are here to channel the forces of personal chaos with stories of 12-step program binging, art school meltdown, and existential insomnia. Moderated by Joan Hilty, comics editor at Nickelodeon.
Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
YA on Fire: A Teen Comics Showcase
What makes a book “YAlit”? Leave that thorny cataloguing question to libraries — from the readers’ perspective, these new graphic novels are just plain lit, whether you’re a teen or still reading YA, while (supposedly) adulting.
Stories of friendship, fantasy, adventure, romance, and the other-wordly all come together in new books by MariNaomi (“Life on Earth”), Melanie Gillman (“Stage Dreams”), Magdalene Visaggio (“Morning in America”), and Dylan Meconis (“Queen of the Sea”). Moderated by Jerry Craft (“New Kid”).
Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Great Hall, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
For the culturally curious
Hispanic Heritage Month (which lasts from Sept. 15-Oct. 15) is a time to celebrate Latinx culture and communities. You can start the month off right with this assembly of panels that focus on immigration, identity and diaspora.
Identity and Belonging
WNYC’s Rebecca Carroll leads a spirited discussion with three very different authors — Very Smart Brothas’ Damon Young (“What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir In Essays”), Sharmila Sen (“Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America”), and David Chariandy (“I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter”) — about their personal journeys navigating the vagaries of race and culture in their respective families and environments.
What emerges is often harrowing, sometimes hilarious, but always intensely human.
Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. Brooklyn Historical Society Great Hall, 128 Pierrepont St. More info here.
Not My Homeland — But My Home
Dina Nayeri (“The Ungrateful Refugee”) and Susan Kuklin (“We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Youth”) join in a candid conversation about the trepidation, anger and hopes they have personally experienced and discussed with other immigrants and refugees. Their narratives give voice to and share insights about the realities of the lives of migrants who left behind their homelands hoping to make a better life in a new home country.
NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the City Council’s Immigration Committee, joins the conversation. Moderated by Maryellen Fullerton, professor at Brooklyn Law School and expert in asylum and refugee law.
Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 205 Joralemon St. More info here.
The Movement of People: Modern Nomads and Migrants
We live in an era of great global movements, a time when migrants and refugees are often dehumanized and attacked. But fiction provides a powerful tool to look deeper into individual stories.
Whether it’s the journey of Bangladeshi immigrants in Italy in Amitav Ghosh’s “Gun Island” or two half-sisters who meet in Tunisia in Somali-Italian author Igiaba Scego’s “Beyond Babylon” or a Nigerian grad student adrift in Europe in Helon Habila’s “Travelers,” the characters in these novels explore urgent questions of power and privilege, borders and home in today’s world. Moderated by Michael Reynolds, Europa Editions.
Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon St. More info here.
For the not-so-smooth talker
Scared of mingling at parties because you never know what to talk about with new people? Good news — there are lots of smart people at the Brooklyn Book Festival who will give you lots to think and talk about. Hell, you can even rip off their ideas and pass them off as your own at the next happy hour. You’ll be schmoozing in no time.
New Heroes: Mythology Reimagined
In Sharma Shields’ “The Cassandra,” the Oracle of Delphi is reincarnated within a young girl who finds herself involved with a secretive project in the midst of World War II. In “Ecstasy and Terror,” Daniel Mendelsohn compares the heroes and antiheroes of contemporary pop culture with those of ancient myths in a series of essays. Chigozie Obioma’s “An Orchestra of Minorities” brings to life an epic love story told in the traditional mythic style of Igbo literature.
These imaginative works use old mythologies to create surprising narrative insights, introducing readers to new heroes dealing with the age-old question of destiny. Moderated by Rob Spillman, Tin House.
Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Brooklyn Law School, Room 401, 250 Joralemon St. More info here.
Can We Say What We Mean?
Adventures (and misadventures) in grammar, punctuation, and the idiosyncrasies of expression, with essayist and former New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris (“Greek To Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen”) and longtime Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer (“Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style”). Moderated by John McWhorter (Words on the Move).
Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. Center Stage (Columbus Park). More info here.
Climate Change Is A Climate Crisis
Scientists have been warning us about climate change for 40 years. Why has it taken so long for the message to get through?
A discussion with environmentalist and 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben (“Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”), Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Rush (“Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore”), and novelist and activist Jonathan Safran Foer (“We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast”). Moderated by Bina Venkataraman, senior advisor for climate change innovation in the Obama White House and author of “The Optimist’s Telescope.”
Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St. More info here.
Breaking Out: Women and Girls on Their Own Terms
Mona Eltahawy (“The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls”), Tamil writer Ambai (“A Kitchen in the Corner of the House”), and Téa Obreht (“Inland”) bring to life strong female voices of the past and present.
From Eltahaway’s powerful #MeToo manifesto to Obreht’s reimagining the American West with a tale of an unflinching frontierswoman to Ambai’s courageous characters grappling with motherhood, self-assertion and sexuality — all three writers address issues of confinement and liberation in the face of larger cultural and historical forces. Moderated by Rivka Galchen (“Rat Rule 79”).
Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon St. More info here.
Event descriptions courtesy of Brooklyn Book Festival.
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