The Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council announced a blockbuster lineup of 140-plus authors from around the world who will gather for its 16th Brooklyn Book Festival. The Festival is launching its format of the future, with a vibrant in person main Festival Day and Literary Marketplace (Sun. Oct. 3) taking place on multiple stages in Downtown Brooklyn, followed by a robust, virtual Festival in the evening reaching readers from across the country and globe. The 9-day Festival also includes a full slate of citywide Bookend events (Sept. 26 – Oct. 2 & 4th) presented live in venues throughout all five boroughs as well as virtually, and a celebration of childhood reading at its Children’s Day (Sat. Oct. 2) in Brooklyn Commons in MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn.
Camille Rankine, co-chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council, announced Toi Derricotte as this year’s recipient of its BoBi Award. The annual award is presented to an author whose work exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn. Past honorees have included John Ashbery, Edwidge Danticat, Pete Hamill, N.K. Jemisin, Jonathan Lethem, Lois Lowry, James McBride, Lynn Nottage, Colson Whitehead, Mo Willems, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Toi Derricotte is the recipient of the 2020 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. Her sixth collection of poetry, “I” New and Selected Poems, was published in 2019 and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. Other books of poetry include The Undertaker’s Daughter, Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth and The Empress of the Death House. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. With Cornelius Eady, Derricotte co-founded the Cave Canem Foundation in 1996. She is Professor Emerita from University of Pittsburgh and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
“To be among the great writers who have received the BoBi award is a wonderful surprise and honor. Derricotte said. “I am particularly thrilled because Cave Canem, the organization that celebrates African American poets, which Cornelius Eady and I co-founded twenty five years ago, makes our home in Brooklyn and we have been part of the Festival for years. I can hardly wait for this year’s exciting events.”
The Festival announcement took place on Zoom featuring the lively, literary community spirit for which the Festival is known. Authors joined to assist with making the announcements including Eritrean author Sulaiman Addonia, children’s book author Sophie Blackall, novelist Danielle Evans, children’s book author Torrey Maldonado, graphic novelist Nate Powell, Brontez Purnell, Sophie Santos, poet Pamela Sneed, and novelist Morowa Yejidé. The star-studded roster of authors included and many more (see full list below of confirmed authors to date).
The 9-day Festival comprises the main Festival Day, Bookends and Children’s Day. The live Festival Day, on October 3rd, will have author programs on multiple stages, in Downtown Brooklyn, every hour throughout the day featuring fiction, poetry, non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, and young adult authors. The day is known for its diverse and inclusive programming, with one of a kind dialogues among authors. New literary voices are presented in discussions with established authors, and the spectrum of voices tackles topics from incarceration to humor, intimacy to madness. This Festival has a strong international spirit with authors, moderators, and attendees joining in from across the globe including Argentina, Cuba, Eritrea, France, and South Africa. As the live Festival Day draws to a close, the curtains will rise on the Festival’s Virtual “Night Shift” programming starting in the evening and offering multiple programs on the hour until 11pm and including the Festival’s international programming.
“The Brooklyn Book Festival has been the premiere event for our borough’s literary community, and we are thrilled to partner with them. In the midst of challenging times, we look to literature to help us make sense of our world and our place in it. The diverse roster of authors featured in this year’s live and virtual programming embodies the spirit of One Brooklyn, where we seek to forge links between cultures and foster common understanding among people. We look forward to welcoming people from across the borough, city, and beyond to this year’s slate of events!” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
At the fully in-person, October 2nd, Children’s Day, families will experience a full day of readings, workshops, performances, book signings, and art projects with favorite authors and illustrators in Brooklyn Commons Park at MetroTech. The Picture Book Stage and Young Readers Stage will feature authors reading, performing, and illustrating—live and in action. Kids can get creative with their favorite authors at the interactive Artspot and join workshops at the Makers and Creators area. They can play the READy, Spin, Win book wheel for prizes. Plus, the whole family can find new favorite books at the Children’s Marketplace of Books.
Children’s book authors include: David Levithan, Mahogany Browne, Sophie Blackall, Sayantani DasGupta, Brian Floca, Gayle Forman, R.J. Palacio, and many more.
“Children’s Day is a literary celebration like no other and this year it is all live! It’s been a long year of looking at screens for kids and we are excited to offer families and children this free, safe, welcoming cultural experience to meet authors, create projects, enjoy stories and performances.” said Liz Koch, Festival co-producer.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is a full week of Bookend events and Cultural Partner Programming—literary special events curated with publishers, bookstores and cultural institutions and presented in all five boroughs. Bookends Partners include PEN America, the Alice Austen House, the Center For Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, the Gowanus Dredgers on the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, House of Speakeasy and the Brooklyn Bodega, Issue Project Room, and Revolution Books among dozens of others. Programs include poetry, salons and workshops, books-to-movies, draw-offs, book launches and more.
“Bookends and Cultural Partner Programs showcase New York City’s literary curators and cultural organizations to collectively make a robust Festival week that is as hip, smart, diverse and inclusive as our audiences in all five boroughs.” said co-Producer, Carolyn Greer.
This year’s art poster was created by conceptual artist and book cover designer Rodrigo Corral, who said “With a long time friend and collaborator, Fredrik Brodén, we wanted to create something that represents how critical reading is to absorbing new perspectives.”
Rodrigo Corral runs the Rodrigo Corral Art + Design Studio and is the Creative Director at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and New Directions. With a focus on conceptual art, his work spans print, art, film, brand identity and interior spaces. He designed the New York Times bestselling books Decoded by Jay-Z, Principles by Ray Dalio, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. He has also created multiple covers for the Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz, bestselling authors Chuck Palahniuk and Jeff Vandermeer. Recently Rodrigo published his own New York Times bestseller, SNEAKERS the book. He has taught at the School of Visual Arts and Cooper Union in New York City and lectured around the country. Rodrigo remains deeply committed to pushing the visual possibilities in art, sports and throughout the universe.
About the Brooklyn Book Festival
The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 to address the need for a major 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, it formed a Literary Council, chaired by co-founder Johnny Temple, which develops original programs that are hip, smart, diverse, inclusive and collaborates to present free and low-cost programming including the Festival Day, Bookend Events, YA Outloud, 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 is proud of its roster of supporters including the Amazon Literary Partnership, Baillie Gifford, BookClub, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Brooklyn Commons, CityPoint, Con Edison, Disney, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the Herman Goldman Foundation, Kirby Family Foundation, Little A, the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, New York State Council on the Arts, and NYU. The Festival’s media sponsors include C-SPAN, Book TV and the New York Review of Books.
Festival Day Confirmed BKBF Authors as of July 28, 2021:
Peter Ho Davies
Sharon Lee De La Cruz
Mai Der Vang
Ashley C. Ford
Karina Yan Glaser
Tiffany D. Jackson
Farah Jasmine Griffin
Zakiya Dalila Harris
George M. Johnson
Robert Jones Jr.
Darcie Little Badger
Brian Keith Mitchell
Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Naomi Shihab Nye
Kirstin Valdez Quade
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Juan Gabriel Vasquez
Phillip B. Williams
Shing Yin Khor
Children’s Day Confirmed BKBF Authors as of July 28, 2021:
Colleen AF Venable