The Brooklyn Book Festival was held on October 1 in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall. Nearly 200 vendors set up shop for the day-long sales bonanza, a welcome return after last year’s outdoor sales was canceled due to stormy weather. This year’s weather was in the low 80s, with bright sunshine throughout the day—near perfect.
This was the 18th year of the festival, which opened on September 30 with a gala reception at New York City College of Technology. Each year, the festival presents a Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) award to "an author whose work best exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn." This year's BoBi was awarded to New Yorker staff writer and author Hilton Als (pictured above).
The vendors primarily comprised independent publishers, booksellers, and organizations, many from the borough, such as Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, Melville House, and Restless Books among the publishers; booksellers included Community Bookshop, Greenlight Books, Word Bookshop, and the Word Is Change. Others came in from across the river in Manhattan or traveled from across the country, such as Deep Vellum Books from Dallas and Two Lines Press from San Francisco; yet others traveled traveled across the border from Canada, including Book*hug and Coach House Books.
More than 200 authors participated in panels and talks throughout the day, ranging from this year's Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, authors of His Name Is George Floyd: One Man's Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Viking), to Southern noir crime writer S. A. Cosby, whose latest book is All the Sinners Bleed (Flatiron), to National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ben Fountain, who debuted his first novel in more than a decade, Devil Makes Three (Flatiron).
Our editors and contributors captured the day in photos.
New York Review of Books contributors Francine Prose, Laura Marsh, and Julian Lucas discussed book bans, canceled authors, and censorship in a session titled "Book Wars," moderated by The New York Review of Books editor-at-large Daniel Mendelsohn. In discussing the challenge of teaching potentially problematic classic books, Francine Prose advocated for teaching the classic alongside critical texts. In a course teaching Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, she recommended also assigning the class to read James by Percival Everett, a reimagining of the novel through the point of few of Jim, forthcoming from Penguin Random House next May. "[James] is a masterpiece," Prose said.
Authors Gal Beckerman, Ben Fountain (Devil Makes Three, Flatiron), Janika Oza (A History of Burning, Grand Central), and John Manuel Arias (Where There Was Fire, Flatiron) share readings from their new books with the crowd.
A bookseller hosting the Word Bookshop booth prepares for a book signing of the aforementioned panelists at the festival.
Cartoonists discuss their graphic novels and memoirs on “found family” at the Brooklyn Book Festival in the Center for Brooklyn History. From left: Archie Bongiovanni (Mimosa, Surely/Abrams ComicArts), Julia Wertz (Impossible People, Black Dog & Leventhal), Leslie Stein (Brooklyn’s Last Secret, D&Q), and moderator, New Yorker Cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (Murder Book, Andrews McMeel).
Authors Walter Mosley (l.) and Joyce Carol Oates (r.) in conversation about their new books, the novel Touched and the short story collection Zero-Sum, respectively, moderated by Literary Hub and Crime Reads editor Olivia Rutigliano (c.)
Art projected from Stein’s graphic novel Brooklyn’s Last Secret, about a touring indie band.
Hirsh Sawhney moderated a panel featuring Andrea Bartz, author of The Spare Room (Ballantine), Dwyer Murphy, author of The Stolen Coast (Viking), and S.A. Cosby, author of All the Sinners Bleed (Flatiron), in a discussion of small town crime.
House of Speakeasy's Bookmobile sold books to benefit the New Republic's Book Ban Van, which plans to deliver banned books to libraries and schools across Florida and Texas.
Wave Books brought poetry for sale all the way from the publisher's headquarters in Seattle.
A view of the festival tents and the main stage.