Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Brooklyn Book Festival draws tens of thousands,
celebrates successful “Children’s Day” & “Festival Day”
NYC’s largest literary event showcased 300 authors and 200 publishers
Author Colson Whitehead receives 2017 BKBF “Best of Brooklyn” Award
BROOKLYN, NY — Thursday, September 21, 2017 — The Brooklyn Book Festival, the city’s week-long celebration of books, authors and ideas, culminated this past weekend with 45,000 New Yorkers and visitors attending Festival Day in Downtown Brooklyn on September 17 and 6,000 parents, educators and children attending its third annual Children’s Day on September 16.
The flagship 14-stage Brooklyn Book Festival took place Sunday, September 17, and featured nearly 300 writers of beloved works of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and graphic novels, participating in panels, readings and other creative performances of their work. Festival Day highlights included standing-room-only events like Karl Ove Knausgaard in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates; Lauren Sanders and Mira Jacob discussing family secrets in the historic St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church; and Jonathan Safran Foer, Fernanda Torres and Rodrigo Hasbún exploring family and morality in the Borough Hall Media Room.
Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) honoree and Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead was joined by fellow Brooklynite and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. Festival attendees filled rooms to hear international authors including Maja Lunde and Jostein Gaarder from Norway, Ali Cobby Eckermann from New Zealand, Polish poet Wioletta Greg, and Naivo, whose book is the first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English, among many others. Teen favorites Jay Asher, Holly Black, Sarah Dessen, and Meg Medina spoke before packed audiences at the YA Stage at the Brooklyn Law School. Perspectives on the current political climate took center stage with discussions on books as tools of resistance with Andrew Boyd, L.A. Kauffman, and Linda Sarsour; discussions on immigration with Ali Noorani; and the informed perspectives shared by Chris Hayes and Naomi Klein. The Festival’s outdoor stages included programs on music, food, theatre and poetry with authors ranging from Eileen Myles, playwright John Guare, poet Sam Sax, chef/author Stella Parks, Jonathan Lethem and Ann Powers.
“Best of Brooklyn” Award: Colson Whitehead
On Saturday, September 16, Colson Whitehead was honored as the Festival’s annual Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) Award recipient. Friends, family and fans alike filled St. Francis College Founders Hall to fete Mr. Whitehead, who last year received the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Underground Railroad. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said “Brooklyn’s own Colson Whitehead’s tale of The Underground Railroad is a story of survival and perseverance in the face of the brutality of slavery, and I congratulate him as he receives the Best of Brooklyn Award. His genius reveals our borough’s best, inspiring many hearts and minds with the power of literature. Reading heals the soul with knowledge and a global perspective to tackle the world’s many challenges and opportunities, and that is precisely what this festival will achieve.” Johnny Temple, Chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council, added: “Although we in Brooklyn have known since 1999 that Colson Whitehead is an exquisite novelist, it wasn’t until 2017 that he won his first Pulitzer Prize for The Underground Railroad, which also landed on President Obama’s reading list. Colson has supported us since our debut Brooklyn Book Festival a dozen years ago, and we couldn’t be more proud to honor his tremendous body of work with this year’s BoBi Award.” Poet Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Whitehead.
On Saturday, September 16, for Children’s Day, young readers and their families were treated to a festival chock-full of readings, performances, workshops and panels revolving around new and beloved picture book authors and illustrators. Performer and author Laurie Berkner led a roomful of children singing and dancing along to her popular songs. The crowd favorite “Illustrator Smackdown” led by Ruth Chan included illustrator competitors Alix Delinois, Angela Dominguez, Liniers, Chris Raschka, Miss Saburi, Gregg Schigiel and Katy Wu. Kid-activists made posters with Leila Sales, creator of The Little Book of Activists, and marched through the commons with messages of equality and justice. Others learned to make origami with New York Times bestselling author Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda, and stretched and breathed with Lara Hocheiser, author of My Yoga Workbook. Readers age 6 and up heard Jacqueline Woodson, Gene Luen Yang, Alexandra Bracken and Sharon Draper talk on wide-ranging topics: adventure, growing pains, crafting unforgettable characters, creating new worlds and revisiting old foes.
Full Week of “Bookend” Events
Social media channels began buzzing on Monday, September 11, with the kick-off of BKBF “Bookends,” over 60 literary-themed events in clubs, bookstores, libraries, theaters, and open spaces throughout the city. A sold-out presentation by iconic artist, performer, and author Patti Smith launched the week and the robust literary schedule continued over the next six days as book lovers attended film screenings, prose bowls, parties, author appearances and more, hosted by partners such as PEN American, NYPL’s Schomburg Center and locally-owned independent bookstores throughout the city … and even an event at the historic Green-wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, with Malachy McCourt. Bookends authors included 2017 Pulitzer Prize recipient Heather Ann Thompson, S. Shankar, John Leguizamo, Nicole Krauss, Kamau and dozens more! Search #BKBF on social media to see audiences as they enjoyed programs by returning curators as well as many fresh new voices, all of whom contribute to the rich tapestry of New York City’s literary arts scene.
Click here for photos, including the original 2017 Festival poster, illustrated by Adrian Tomine and designed by Rodrigo Corral.
About the Brooklyn Book Festival
The Festival is made possible with the generous support of the Amazon Literary Partnership, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brooklyn Borough President’s Office/NYC & Company Foundation, Con Edison, Disney, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Forest City Ratner New York, the Kirby Family Foundation, LaVazza, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Council Members Brad Landers and Stephen Levin, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, New York State Council on the Arts, St. Francis College, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, The Times Literary Supplement, and WeWork. The festival’s media sponsors are wabc7NY and WNYC. Programs on the International Stage and Showcase have been made possible by the support of Dutch Culture USA, Creative Industries Fund NL, French Cultural Services, NORLA, Polish Cultural Institute New York, and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
Cultural and programming partners include BAM, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Fiction, The Nation, National Book Foundation, New York Review of Books, New York University, Poetry Society of America, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, St. Francis College, The Times Literary Supplement, Whiting Foundation, and Windham-Campbell Prizes.