Brooklyn Book Festival 2019 schedule released

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Press Contacts:

Kathy Daneman
Kathy Daneman Public Relations
718-778-0285 | [email protected]

Laura Dolan
Geto & de Milly, Inc.
212-686-4551 | [email protected]

— Clear Your Calendar … Your Week Is BOOKED — 


—Bookend Events in Every Borough—
FULL WEEK of literary events begins on Monday, September 16,
and runs through Monday, September 23. 

5th Children’s Day Saturday, September 21

Flagship Festival Day with Literary Marketplace,
Sunday, September 22.

New York City’s largest free literary event features 300+ top authors in lively discussions, celebrating the critical importance of ideas and the written word at this pivotal time in history.


Official 2019 BKBF poster by Raúl ColónBROOKLYN, NY—September 5, 2019—Today the Brooklyn Book Festival (BKBF) and Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council released the complete schedule for a full week of Literary Events beginning with Bookends on September 16, Children’s Day on Saturday, September 21, and Festival Day on Sunday, September 22, a full-day celebration of more than 300 authors and 250 publishers and booksellers in Downtown Brooklyn 

The Bookend literary week kicks off Monday, September 16, with six events including an evening walking tour in Whitman’s footsteps. The week features more than 60 special events highlighting the literary diversity of New York City and the uniqueness of each of the five boroughs. Readers and writers will celebrate the literature of Africa and Mexico, launch new novels, and laud the art of translation. Activists and scholars will discuss civilization and collapse, dissidents and resistance, the disparity of gender and the promise of girl power.

Visit for the 2019 schedule.
BKBF Festival Day & Literary Marketplace
September 22, 2019
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Borough Hall and Vicinity
FESTIVAL DAY AUTHORS INCLUDE: Jim Acosta, Kathleen Alcott, Kristen Arnett, Jericho Brown, Mahogany L. Browne, Rebecca Carroll, Tina Chang, Ryan Chapman, Amit Chaudhuri, Alexander Chee, K Chess, Ted Chiang, Susan Choi, Kate Christensen, Angie Cruz, Dave Cullen, Edwidge Danticat, Siddhartha Deb, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Mark Doten, Benjamin Dreyer, Mona Eltahawy, Akwaeke Emezi, Ebony Flowers, Nick Flynn, Jonathan Safran Foer, Ted Fox, David France, Amitav Ghosh, Rigoberto González, Samra Habib, Jenny Han, Aleksandar Hemon, Samantha Hunt, Lewis Hyde, Mira Jacob, Marlon James, N.K. Jemisin, Ilya Kaminsky, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Lucy Knisley, Yiyun Li, Carmen Maria Machado, Nicholas Mancusi, Courtney Maum, DeRay Mckesson, Bill McKibben, John McWhorter, Benjamin Moser, Meghan O’Rourke, Joyce Carol Oates, Chigozie Obioma, Téa Obreht, Jenny Odell, Julie Orringer, Helen Phillips, Julia Phillips, Serhii Plokhy, Joy Reid, Namwali Serpell, Mychal Denzel Smith, Jason Starr, Lisa Taddeo, Matt Taibbi, Michelle Tea, Jacob Tobia, Jessica Valenti, Brenda Wineapple, De’Shawn Charles Winslow, Meg Wolitzer, Damon Young, and Nell Zink.The flagship 13-stage Festival Day is New York City’s largest free literary event and each year attracts tens of thousands of book lovers. This year’s festival features more than 300 writers of beloved works of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and graphic novels who will participate in panels, readings and musical performances. Attendees are welcome to take a stroll through the vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace, hosting nearly 250 independent booksellers and publishers from all over the country and the world.This year’s Festival addresses pressing contemporary social and literary topics such as the realities of climate change; the relationship between music and liberation movements; the intersection of language and politics, gender and storytelling; the vagaries of identity, race, sexuality and belonging; stories of migrants, immigrants and refugees; the state of the American press and press freedom; and close readings and celebrations of three incomparable authors, Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag, and Walt Whitman.“When Joyce Carol Oates, Marlon James, N.K. Jemisin, and Edwidge Danticat (along with three hundred other astonishingly talented authors) converge in Brooklyn, who the hell would want to miss that literary combustion?” asked Johnny Temple, Chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council. “Our programming has something wonderful on offer for everyone—young, old, or in between—who enjoys words in any form.”This year, the Festival boasts for the first time a special Walt Whitman pop-up stage hosted by the Brooklyn Eagle for the Brooklyn bard’s 200th birthday. The Festival will also host the UK’s Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction first U.S. event.Teen readers will find their favorite authors on Festival Day, where they can hear diverse and vibrant conversations. Start the day with a Sneak Peek Trivia Giveaway for a chance to win early, not-yet-published YA novels and festival swag. YA readers can check out bestselling YA authors Jenny Han, Mary H.K. Choi, and Laura Sebastian discussing how feminism factors into their stories; Jennifer Donnelly, Randy Ribay, and Cora Carmack talking about what it really means to be a hero; and Scott Westerfeld, Angie Manfredi, and debut author Maya Motayne exploring the chasms between perception and reality, judgement and acceptance.

Below are just a few Festival Day highlights:

Susan Choi & Meg Wolitzer in Conversation. Pulitzer Prize finalist Susan Choi (Trust Exercise) and New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer (The Female Persuasion) discuss their bodies of work, crafting captivating narratives, and their paths to becoming prominent and powerful voices in contemporary fiction. Their most recent novels present emotionally complex and deeply relevant stories about the challenges of coming of age as a woman in today’s world, from finding one’s voice as a writer, to negotiating difficult relationships, to confronting authority figures in order to develop a personal code of ethics. Moderated by Katy Waldman, staff writer for The New Yorker.

Decolonized Epics: History, Fantasy, and Futurism in African Writing and its Diaspora. Three novelists from Africa and its diaspora set their stories in the widest possible canvas. Braiding Zambian history with futuristic speculation, Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift follows 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 StoneNovuyo 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.

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).

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.

We Came to Slay: Across three fantastical worlds—from a vast Arabian kingdom, to modern-day Seoul, to a small town in upstate New York; heroines battle with tradition and outdated systems of power to save the ones they love. In Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame, Zafira takes on an ancient force of evil and finds herself growing close to the Prince of Death, who has been ordered to kill her. In The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman, Violet learns she belongs to one of the revered founding families of Four Paths and must face the monster that has been torturing the town for years. In Kat Cho’s Wicked Fox, nine-tailed fox Gu is forced to choose between her own life and the life of the human boy she loves, reigniting a generations old feud in the process. Moderated by Tochi Onyebuchi (Crown of Thunder).

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.

Imagining Beyond: Join N.K. Jemisin (How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, Broken Earth series, The Inheritance trilogy), Ted Chiang (Exhalation) and Mark Doten (Trump Sky Alpha) for a conversation about sci-fi, exploring new worlds, and how imagining beyond our reality can be the perfect way to ground ourselves in the present. Moderated by Jaime Green, series editor for Best American Science and Nature Writing.

Poetry as Memory: Poetry, as Robert Frost said, “is a way of remembering what it would impoverish us to forget.” Hala Alyan (The Twenty-Ninth Year), Jericho Brown (The Tradition), Tina Chang (Hybrida), and Edgar Kunz (Tap Out) consider the ways poetry can serve as a cultural, personal, political, familial, and inherited memory. Moderated by Hafizah Geter, Little A/Topple Books

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.

Looking Back: Memoir, Auto-Fiction and the Worlds that Shape Us. How do you write about the past—childhood and youth—when so much has disappeared or been transformed, often tragically? Aleksandar Hemon recaptures life in Sarajevo before war forced his parents to emigrate to Canada in the double memoir This Does Not Belong to You/ My Parents: An Introduction. A writer named Amit Chaudhuri wanders the evocative lanes of Bombay after the 2008 terrorist attack in Amit Chaudhuri’snovel Friend of My Youth. And Scholastique Mukasonga lovingly remembers her mother, who perished during the Rwanda genocide, in The Barefoot Woman. Moderated by Amitava Kumar (Immigrant, Montana).

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 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.

Feminism in YA: Whether it’s falling in love for the first time, navigating identity in the age of the Internet, leading a rebellion to take back what’s rightfully yours, or summoning magic powers from within to catch a killer, feminism plays a crucial role in how girls move through the world and advocate for themselves and others. Join bestselling YA authors Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Mary H.K. Choi(Permanent Record), and Laura Sebastian (Lady Smoke) as they discuss how feminism, in all its definitions, factors into their stories, their characters, and their worlds. Moderated by bestselling author Libba Bray (The Diviners series).

Real and Imagined Worlds: 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 TeicherThe Paris Review.

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.

Marlon James and Joyce Carol Oates in Conversation. Two of today’s most revered titans of literature, Marlon James (Black Leopard, Red Wolf) and Joyce Carol Oates (My Life as A Rat), discuss their craft and offer short readings from their latest work.

BKBF Bookend Events
September 16-23, 2019 (events are held city-wide in all five boroughs)

BOOKEND EVENT WEEK AUTHORS INCLUDE: Carolyn Castiglia, Lyndsay Faye, Melissa Febos, Liana Finck, Nick Flynn, Terrance Hayes,  Mira Jacob, Margo Jefferson, Etgar Keret, Alice Sola Kim, Courtney Maum, Tommy Pico, Lilliam Rivera, Alex Segura, Beowulf Sheehan, Evie Shockley, Liev Schreiber,  Darcey Steinke, Jillian Steinhauer, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Sarah Weinman.

The Festival’s Bookends include more than 60 special events highlighting the literary diversity of New York City in venues throughout the boroughs. Book launches, games, comedy, restaurant-author pairings, readings with musical accompaniment, and anniversary celebrations for New York Review of Booksand McSweeney’s and an indie book publishers party are all just part of the engaging literary entertainment.

“The Brooklyn Book Festival is an exciting week for literary aficionados. Get lit at Bookend events citywide—parties, book launches, political discussions, literary salons and games, graphic arts and comics—in unique locations ranging from canoes on the Gowanus Canal to walking streets Whitman walked after dark or the historic Langston Hughes House, and libraries, music venues, bars and bookstores in every borough,” said Carolyn Greer, Festival Co-Producer and Bookend Events Co-Chair.

BKBF Bookend Event highlights include:

Monday September 16: Declaraciones: Latinx Writing Carving Out a Space. Representation in literature is still a struggle. In this discussion, authors Adriana Herrera, Claribel Ortega, and Theresa Varela delve into the challenges faced by Latinx writers creating art in niche genres—notably mystery, romance, and sci-fi/fantasy—where black and brown faces aren’t usually included. Location: Cafe con Libros, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, September 17: No, YOU Tell It! “aMuse” True-life tales with a twist! Poets and stand-ups have come together to develop their nonfiction stories inspired by the theme “aMuse” on the page. They will then trade tales to present each other’s story on stage. Storytellers include: Pichchenda Bao (Newtown Literary, 2019 Aspen Words emerging writer fellow), Carolyn Castiglia (Comedy Central, NickMom), Ellie Dunn (Mel & El, MomCaveTV), H.E. Fisher (The Rumpus, 2019 recipient of The Stark Poetry Prize) Location: The Astoria Bookshop, Astoria.

Wednesday, September 18: Break Out: A 2019 PEN America Prison Writing Awards Celebration.Celebrating the release of the 2019 PEN America Prison Writing Awards Anthology, PEN America and The Poetry Project present an evening of exceptional work from currently incarcerated writers, staged by a series of dynamic authors, actors and activists including Margo Jefferson, Shaun Leonardo, T Kira Madden, Cortney Lamar Charleston, and Rachel Eliza Griffiths and others. Location: St. Mark’s Church, Manhattan.

Thursday, September 19: Oracular Spectacular: A Mingle with 2019 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Winners. Come out for drinks, snacks, and a short program of literary divination hosted by Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winners The Common, Black Warrior Review, American Short Fiction, The Margins (Asian American Writers Workshop), and The Offing. Contributing authors will attempt to answer your deepest and most heartfelt questions about love, money, and the future by citing lines from their work. Stick around to mingle with the evening’s prognosticators and editors from these very fine literary journals. Location: LIC Bar, Long Island City.

Friday, September 20: Image Conscious—Repainting the Imaginary of Caribbean Picture Books, Novels and Graphic Novels. From the quirky, fun take on modern parenting in #JoysOfParenting by Carlette DeLeon (Jamaica), to telling old tales in new ways in The Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh(Guyana), to adventures and intrigue in The Carnival Prince by Daniel O’Brien (Trinidad), join us in discovering the identity and culture of a region and its peoples constantly in (re)formation. Presented by The Riverbay Fund in association with Caribbean Cultural Theatre, CaribbeanReads, Read Jamaica and the Jamaica Progressive League. Location: Bartow Community Center – Co-op City, Bronx.

Saturday, September 21:  New Women Voices of African Fiction—Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and Namwali Serpell in Conversation. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a Zimbabwean writer living in Houston. House of Stone is her sweeping epic spanning the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe’s turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a young nation seeking an identity but built on forgetting. Namwali Serpell is a Zambian writer who teaches at Cal-Berkeley. The Old Drift is an intergenerational saga that combines history and romance and science fiction—revealing the cruelties and absurdities of colonialism, and the yearning to create and cross borders. Location: Revolution Books, Manhattan.

Reading in Celebration of Audre Lorde. Acclaimed black lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde lived on Staten Island, just a stone’s throw from the Alice Austen House with her partner and two children from 1972 – 1987. Lorde authored influential works while living on St Paul’s Avenue and also co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. This year her residence joined the Alice Austen House as a designated NYC Individual Landmark, by virtue of its LGBTQ significance in connection with Lorde. In celebration of her legacy the Alice Austen House will host a reading of Lorde’s works chosen by Staten Island authors. Location: Alice Austen House Museum, Staten Island.

Monday, September 23: Longreads 10th Anniversary Storytelling Night. Longreads has spent the last 10 years celebrating some of the world’s best storytelling and sharing it with readers everywhere. Tonight, we’re presenting an evening of live storytelling with some of our favorite writers, including New York TimesStyles editor Choire Sicha, Baltimore author Laura Lippman, and more. Location: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe & Bar, Manhattan.

BKBF Children’s Day
September 21, 2019 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn

CHILDREN’S DAY AUTHORS INCLUDE: Nick Bruel, Ruth Chan, Elisha Cooper, Jerry Craft,  Rivka Galchen, Karina Yan Glaser, Vashti Harrison, Emily Jenkins, Grace Lin, Oge Mora, Raúl the Third, Sherri Duskey Rinker, Jon Scieszka, Mo Willems, Dan Zanes, and Ibi Zoboi.

The BKBF Children’s Day celebrates its 5th anniversary this year with an exciting lineup of authors, illustrators, workshops and activities for kids ages 2 to 11, including making comic books, yoga for kids, a costume parade—come dressed as your favorite children’s book character or join the superhero costume workshop , a scavenger hunt, bilingual programs and more. Plus meet Elephant and Piggie! Taking place Saturday, September 21, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn, this event celebrating kid lit boasts nearly 50 authors of picture books, chapter books and graphic novels. Writers at Children’s Day will include bestselling authors Mo Willems, Jon Scieszka, Karina Yan Glaser, Nick Bruel, and award-winning authors and illustrators Grace Lin, Grammy award-winning musician and author Dan Zanes, Ibi Zoboi, among many more.

Kids can join the creative fun at the Festival’s Art Spot, where hands-on events with authors and illustrators include engineering-focused projects with Oddot Tinkeractive, a watercolors demonstration with Elisha Cooper (River), making papercut creations with Lorraine Nam (Look Up With Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars), and a lesson in contemporary astrology and celestial drawing with Michelle Tea and Mike Perry (Astro Baby).

Young creators can also attend one-of-a-kind interactive presentations throughout the day including learning cartooning basics and making your own comics with cartoonist Ivan Brunetti (Comics: Easy as ABC), superhero themed costume making with Raakhee Mirchandani (Super Satya Saves the Day) followed by a costume parade, poster making with illustrator Raúl Colón, creator of the Festival’s 2019 art poster, and creating pop-up art with illustrator JoonHee Yoon.

Don’t miss: Children’s Day perennially popular Illustrator Smackdown; 92Y Musical Theater presents a musical preview of this season’s Theater for Young Audiences series focused on fairy tales; Yoga Under the Trees with Mariam Gates (Good Night Yoga); a festival-wide search to find Waldo, the world’s most famous missing person; and a prize-winning opportunity at the READy, Spin & Win Wheel.

“The Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Day marks its 5th anniversary of presenting beloved authors and illustrators whose books make childhood reading a magical experience. A book well-loved is always revered, and we hope young readers will discover that book at Children’s Day plus enjoy the unique experience of meeting and even creating projects with their favorite author,” said Liz Koch, Co-Producer of the festival. 

Visit for the 2019 schedule.

About the Brooklyn Book Festival
The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 to address the need for a major free literary event that embraced the diverse constituencies of New York City. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate published literature and support the literary community through programming that connects New York City readers with local, national, and international authors, publishers, and booksellers. To this end the festival develops original programs that are hip, smart, and diverse and collaborates to present free and low-cost programming includes the Festival Day, the Bookend Events, and the BKBF Children’s Day.

BKBF is presented by the non-profit Brooklyn Book Festival, Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council. The Festival extends appreciation and thanks to its new and longstanding supporters: the Amazon Literary Partnership, The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office/NYC & Company Foundation, the Brooklyn Eagle, Brookfield Properties and J.P. Morgan Chase, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council Members Brad Lander, Stephen Levin and Carlos Menchaca, Con Edison, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Disney, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Kirby Family Foundation, KinderCare, Little A, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, New York State Council on the Arts, NYU, and St. Francis College. The festival’s media sponsors are abc7NY, C-SPAN, Book TV, The Nation and WNYC.

Cultural and programming partners include BAM, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn Public Library, The Center for Fiction, National Book Foundation, New York Review of Books, Poetry Society of America, St. Francis College, the New York Times, Whiting Foundation, and Windham Campbell Prizes as well as the Festival’s official booksellers: Bank Street Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Books Are Magic, Community Bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore, Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab, The PowerHouse Arena, and Word.

Be sure to visit or check out the official Facebook page, follow the Festival on Instagram (@bkbookfest) and on Twitter (@BKBF). A 2019 Festival press kit, including images from previous festivals, is available here.

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