7 Things We’re Looking Forward to at the Brooklyn Book Festival
Words By Amanda Farbanish, Art By Johnny Lindner
It’s that time of year folks! Cozy cups of tea, oversized sweaters (once the heatwave makes itself scarce)—and the Brooklyn Book Festival! The Festival will return for its fourteenth year on Sunday, September 22, with events occurring throughout the week of September 16, and we couldn’t be more excited. To hold ourselves over, we’ve collected seven must-sees for all our fellow literary enthusiasts, plus a bonus surprise at the end(!).
Stories are told and retold throughout different generations, with the evolution of popular culture and language softening our perspectives on the status quo. There is, after all, quite a difference between Ariel dissolving into a puddle of foam and her marrying prince charming. N.K. Jemisin (Broken Earth Trilogy), L. Penelope (Earthsinger Chronicles), Catherynne Valente (Deathless; The Refrigerator Monologues), and P. Djèlí Clark (Black God’s Drums; The Haunting of Tram Car 015) come together with teri.zin as moderator to discuss the impact of our abridged version of history, beginning with our most beloved stories, and how facing truths will change the course to a more brutal, yet progressive, future.
Center Stage (Columbus Park), 11 a.m.
Join three novelists from Africa and its diaspora who weave together a complicated web of fantasy, identity, and culture into their stories. Namwali Serpell combines Zambian history with futuristic speculation in The Old Drift, following three families trapped in a cycle of revenge that lasts from the beginning of colonial settlement to the advent of superintelligent mosquito drones. In House of Stone, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma interrogates history’s silences in a panoramic narrative of Zimbabwe before and after independence. And in Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf, folklore from across the continent shapes a fantasy quest of epic dimensions. Moderated by Hafizah Geter, Little A/Topple Books.
Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon St., 12 p.m.
We all need to laugh (or cry) at ourselves every once in a while. Through wonderfully relatable cartoon posts, these three cartoonists tell 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 some of it will make your heart ache with how much you can see yourself on the page. 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.
St. Francis College Founder’s Hall, 180 Remsen St., 1 p.m.
LGBTQIA+ people are out or are living in repressed silence from someone or everyone—often at great personal expense to their health, their sanity, and their well-being. Samra Habib (We Have Always Been Here), William Dameron (The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out), and Ryan O’Callaghan (My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended up Saving My Life) discuss their candid books about coming out and being out, confronting cultural biases, and learning to love themselves and be loved. Moderator Brian Vines, Chief Correspondent at BRIC.
Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St., 1 p.m.
(I know those last two are at the same time, but how am I expected to choose? How dare they do this to the anxious gays! I’m personally offended.)
In these graphic works, cities are characters existing alongside the vivid lives they hold within. 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.
Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St., 3 p.m.
What are the means for women to express themselves? What are the chances of being heard, believed, and understood? At the intersection of language and politics, gender and storytelling, this panel of writers examines the way that women’s words evolve, emerge, and affect the world, with Amanda Montell, author of Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language; Mychal Denzel Smith, author of Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching; and Jessica Valenti, co-editor of Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World (forthcoming in 2020).
Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon St., 5 p.m.
Rigoberto González (The Book of Ruin), Ilya Kaminsky (Deaf Republic), Sally Wen Mao (Oculus), and Ladan Osman (Exiles of Eden) read poems from their new collections, employing allegory, invention, myth, and parable to illuminate the realities of today’s world. Introduced by Craig Morgan Teicher, The Paris Review.
Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St., 5 p.m.
And for our special surprise…
You read that right! For the first time ever, F(r)iction will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Festival Day. Come say hi at Booth #440 and talk literature to us—all of our editors are giddy to chat about anything and everything. And while you’re at it, pick up the latest issue of F(r)iction! We can’t wait to see you!
Don’t forget to check out the official Brooklyn Book Festival website for the full list of all panels, events, and vendors.