Do the write thing: 10 things not to miss at the Brooklyn Book Festival this year

Do the write thing: 10 things not to miss at the Brooklyn Book Festival this year

Bring on the books! Via Flickr user Betty Tsang.

The Brooklyn Book Festival is necessary methadone that helps wean us off quitting summer cold turkey. The day-long event on Sunday reminds us why fall in New York is pretty great too, as we put away the tank tops and jorts and instead pull up our big pile of books and don our best reading flannels. The annual festival is Bonnaroo for Brooklyn book worms and Lollapalooza for lit lovers, an all-you-can-eat buffet of free readings, talks and author appearance that takes over downtown Brooklyn, jam-packed with stars and illuminati of the printed word. With dozens of events on the docket this year that include heavyweights like Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Jacqueline Woodson, it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re unprepared.

We made a guide to help you navigate the vast library of choices. Here are Brokelyn’s top 10 picks for what not to miss at the Brooklyn Book Festival this year so you can take in the best of the fest, from important discussions of gentrification and voting to a fun journey into the intersection of literature and comedy. All the events are free and entrance is first-come, first-served. 

The Fault Line Between Empowerment and Vulnerability
Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St
10am

You can’t spend more than a minute talking to anyone who cares about the future of Brooklyn without them bringing up the problems of gentrificaiton, the forces that are reshaping our city in drastic — and sometimes nefarious — ways. Join two of the people best suited to take on the topic as social critic D.W. Gibson (The Edge Becomes the Center) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as they chew on the big economic and social justice issues facing the city, along with Marc Lamont Hill (Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond).

Best of Brooklyn: Jacqueline Woodson
St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St
11am

Author Jacqueline Woodson is currently getting great acclaim and reviews for her novel Another Brooklyn, released last month, which takes readers back to the borough in the 1970s. She’ll be in conversation with NY Times film critic A.O. Scott, talking about her writing life, and being influenced by Brooklyn’s literary lineage

The Whole World is Watching presented by The Nation
Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St
11am

Writers Mychal Denzel Smith (Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching), Sarah Jaffe (Necessary Trouble) and Sarah Leonard (The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century) take on some of the most important issues facing the country right now: the Black Lives Matter movement, economic equality, workers’ rights and more. It’s moderated by The Nation’s Kai Wright, who hosted WNYC’s excellent There Goes the Neighborhood podcast.

A Conversation with Margaret Atwood
St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St
12pm

Best-selling author Margaret Atwood has just entered new territory, publishing her first graphic novel Angel Catbird, which is already receiving rave reviews (the Daily Dot calls it “pulpy fun.”). She’ll be talking about her decision to enter the increasingly respectable world of comic books with Calvin Reid of PW Comics.

Of Folklore, Fantasy and the Human Soul.
Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon St
12pm

Hey it’s Salman Rushdie! The author is always a hit speaker at the fest. This year he’s joined by authors Susan Daitch (The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir), Granta magazine co-founder Jonathan Levi (Septimania) as they discuss their post-modern adventure novels that deal with folk tales, fantasy and the battles of the heart and mind.

A Novel Comedy Show presented by the Literati of Union Hall
Main Stage, Columbus Park
2pm

The two heavily populated worlds of the Brooklyn comedy and literary scenes collide in this “novel” (get it get it) comedy showcase featuring some comedians who often perform downstairs below the book-lined walls of Union Hall. It’s hosted by Colin O’Brien, Michael Wolf, Mark Vigeant and Sam Reece and features Isaac Oliver (Intimacy Idiot) and Phoebe Robinson (You Can’t Touch My Hair and WNYC podcasts Sooo Many White Guys and 2 Dope Queens).

Politically Correct?
Brooklyn Law School Moot Courtroom, 250 Joralemon St
2pm

Hey did you know there’s an election coming up? You may have heard a thing or two about it in the news in between coverage of what pneumonia is and whether racism is a chill thing to practice in 2016. Get yourself educated on some important election-related issues like voting rights, third-party candidates and voter empowerment. The panel features real-life presidential candidate Ralph Nader along with Thomas Frank (Listen Liberal) and Gloria J. Browne-Marshall (The Voting Rights War).

Bowie and Prince: The Pop Star as Artist
St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St
3pm

We’re not the kind of people who believe events that happen in a calendar year have any special mystical connections other than the sheer cruel coincidence of the universe, but those coincidences have been pretty brutal in 2016. We lost a truckload of icons this year, but the deaths of David Bowie and Prince hit some the hardest. Remember the two beloved, boundary pushing stars at this panel featuring music journalist superstars Touré (I Would Die 4 U), Rob Sheffield (On Bowie), and Greg Tate (Flyboy 2). It’s moderated by Amanda Petrusich (Do Not Sell at Any Price).

Single wo/man seeking….
Main Stage, Columbus Park
5pm

Jessica Valenti’s Sex Object: A Memoir is probably one of those books you’ve seen a lot of people reading on the subway since it came out in June, and with good cause:  Harper’s Bazaar calls the memoir by the Guardian columnist and leading feminist critic “A powerful literary memoir that expertly makes the case for feminism today.” She’ll be in conversation with Rebecca Traister (All the Single Ladies) and Brett Fletcher Lauer (Fake Missed Connections) as they talk about what’s changed and what hasn’t for women and men when it comes to love, sex, dating and mating, and probably how awful men are on the internet all the time.

The Brooklyn Food Maker Scene: In Deep presented by PowerHouse Books
Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 128 Pierrepont St
5pm

Yes, despite the closure of the artisanal mayonnaise store (RIP), the whole Brooklyn food movement is still going strong, even as things are getting tougher for food makers. Coauthors Melissa Schreiber Vaughan and Susanne König, who wrote the book Made in Brooklyn: An Essential Guide to the Borough’s Artisanal Food & Drink Makers, will discuss the highs and lows of the foodie business with Brooklyn’s own Homa Dashtaki, founder of The White Moustache probiotic tonic (so Brooklyn, we know), and David Carrell, cofounder of People’s Pops.

Find the full schedule of Book Festival events here.