As they’ve been doing for twelve years now, passionate booklovers from all five of New York’s boroughs and locations around the globe as far away as Australia will come together this month for the Brooklyn Book Festival. This year’s crowds are expected to swell to more than 50,000 participants. It’s an event that sprawls across the whole week of September 11-17. Beginning with a series of Bookend Events—readings and celebrations held throughout the city during the weekdays—it culminates in a Children’s Day on Saturday and a grand Festival Day on Sunday at the Brooklyn Borough Hall. And this year, as in years past, the New York City borough that has cradled such literary luminaries as Walt Whitman and Colson Whitehead has established a celebration of its legacy with the goal of continuing into the future.
The Brooklyn Book Festival has come a long way since it began as a simple one-day event. It has now grown to present almost 300 authors this year. Some of this year’s featured authors will include Joyce Carol Oates, Hisham Matar, and Jonathan Lethem. The line-up will present renowned writers of all stripes and caters to readers of all ages. By highlighting writers of diverse genres—graphic novelists, poets, memoirists, and more—it promises to be a showcase for international and home-grown literature that connects readers from far and wide to each other and to the authors that have impacted their lives. As stated by Liz Koch, Arts and Culture Specialist for the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, “The Festival is known for fostering creative dialogue among the authors, presenting new literary voices as well as established authors, and serving the literary community by providing a highly visible platform for the work of authors and publicists.”
The Festival makes a special effort to meet the needs and foster the interests of the young readers who will grow into empathetic, informed adults who still turn to the literature of the ages when they come to one of life’s intersections. Its Children’s Day is unique in connecting with young people via such tools as origami and hip-hop, so that youth will continue to be able to see the ways in which the world of literature is pertinent to their lives.
To deliver the best possible programming this year, the Festival is partnering with a many organizations that promote literacy and literature in Brooklyn and nationally, including the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Center for Fiction, The Nation, and the National Book Foundation. The Festival’s reach stretches beyond the national as well. Panels such as Saturday’s “It’s Personal, Not Just Policy,” which is moderated by Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, facilitate conversations that explore the contributions immigrants from far and wide make to Brooklyn’s particular literary landscape. Since the Borough of Brooklyn is home to hundreds of ethnicities from around the globe, the Brooklyn Book Festival fills a need to create community from the local level all the way up to the global level.