It’s New York’s largest free literary festival, and this year more than 400 authors and 200 publishers from over 20 countries will be participating in dozens of discussions about contemporary literature.
“It’s like a feast and you won’t be able to eat everything, but you want to make sure that you know what the ones that you really want are,” said Carolyn Greer, the co-founder of the festival.
The book fest began this week with a lineup of bookend events, including a sunrise reading on a canoe on the Gowanus Canal, poetry readings, and more across the five boroughs. It will culminate with a busy weekend of children’s events on Saturday, and the main event, Festival Day, on Sunday at Cadman Plaza.
“There were so, so many authors living in Brooklyn and being inspired by Brooklyn, and in addition to that, the publishing community really made its home here,” said Liz Koch, co-founder of the event.
It started as a one-day event back in 2006, celebrating the thriving literary community of our city. Now, 17 years later, it has morphed into a nine-day festival celebrating all things literature.
Every year, the festival honors an author with a Best of Brooklyn — or “BoBi” — award, whose work exemplifies the spirit of the borough. This year’s recipient is writer Esmeralda Santiago, who moved to Brooklyn at 13 and is best known for her memoir, “When I was Puerto Rican,” detailing that change in her life and the journey that came with it.
“I do remember being a reader and not seeing myself in the literature of the United States and being aware that if I am not in the literature, I’m not in the society. I’m invisible here, and I think that’s where my desire to be a writer begins,” Santiago told CBS2’s Hannah Kliger.
Living in Brooklyn until adulthood, she says being recognized for her story and her work is an honor.
“It was a real surprise, I didn’t know that I was being considered,” she said.
With such an offering of topics and panels, organizers believe there will be something for each of the thousands of bookworms expected to show up.
Pro tip: Do some research to find the events most interesting to you to maximize your time on Festival Day.
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