Book nerds flock to Brooklyn

The annual Brooklyn Book Festival is an oasis for both literary mavens and the casual explorers.

The festival, now in its seventh year, will be held on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza. Since 2006, the book festival has served as a mecca for authors, publishers and readers alike. Initially intended to serve as a venue for Brooklyn writers, the event has expanded in recent years to include prominent authors from all corners of the United States, such as Dave Eggers and Dennis Lehane. Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz helps sponsor the event each year.

“Brooklyn, or ‘Book-lyn’ as I like to call it,” Markowitz said in a press release, “has more writers per square inch than almost anywhere else in the country, all contributing to our growing reputation as the epicenter of the literary universe where authors from across the globe gather each fall for…one of the world’s most prestigious free literary festivals.”

This year the festival is extending its offerings to more than one day’s worth of literary entertainment. Events leading up to the festival began on Sept. 17 for the aptly titled Bookend. They include readings, lectures and parties and will continue throughout the week with Literary Trivia Night, Librarian Olympics, the Third Annual Brooklyn Indie Party and more.

On Saturday, Sept. 22, the festival will present the Best of Brooklyn, Inc. award. Each year, the BoBi is given to an author who has significantly impacted literature. This year’s recipient is Pete Hamill, prolific journalist and Brooklyn native, who is a distinguished writer in residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU.

“[I have been] formed as a writer by [Brooklyn’s] people, its Vermeer light, the human scale of most of its neighborhoods,” Hamill said.

Hamill believes Brooklyn is the perfect place for the festival.

“It’s the borough, after all, that gave us Walt Whitman.” he said. “It’s, today, the borough that shelters many superb writers. A place where walking the dog could
inspire a novel or a poem.”

If the free entrance and the promise of intellectual stimulation are not incentive enough to hop on the train and attend Bookend events or the festival on Sunday, consider the guest list, which includes writers Mary Higgins Clark, Joyce Carol Oates, Sapphire and Colson Whitehead. Nearly 300 others will be hosting panels, readings and workshops.

Bookend events will take place through Saturday evening. The festival will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 20 print edition. Helen Holmes is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected].