All-Digital 2020 Brooklyn Book Festival to Unite Readers With Writers All Over the Globe

The annual Brooklyn Book Festival will return this fall for an all-virtual weeklong lineup of readings, author talks, and workshops for the borough’s bookworms. While COVID-19 will force this year’s event to look much different from the typical crowds that gather in Downtown Brooklyn, the organizers have used the remote experience to draw more than 150 authors from around the globe to participate in the free festival’s online 15th anniversary.

“This really expanded the opportunity to bring in audiences from different time zones, as well as authors for whom in the past might have been very difficult to travel to the festival,” said Liz Koch, one of the fest’s coproducers. “Literally this year everyone can have a front row seat to this festival because they’re right at their laptop.”

The festival in 2018. Photo by Susan De Vries

This year’s events will come via livestream, Zoom, or prerecorded with a diverse set of writers and moderators on the weekend of October 3.

Saturday will be focused on children’s and young adult literature, while Sunday will host the festival’s main day, with the weekend boasting a star-studded roster of writers — including Lee Child, Salman Rushdie, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Cathy Park Hong, R.L. Stine, and many more.

Some programming will be specifically focused on how the coronavirus has affected writers and the literary industry, according to the organizers.

Brooklyn author Lynn Nottage will receive the Best of Brooklyn Award, the first playwright to do so.

Programming runs all day, with four virtual events per hour, featuring fiction, poetry, non-fiction, comics and international programming — and festival attendees can watch a recording of any event they weren’t able to catch live, according to festival organizers.

Attendees in 2018. Photo by Susan De Vries

“One of the main complaints we had gotten in the past is people not seeing all the things they wanted to,” said coproducer Carolyn Greer. “Now you can see what you want and then go back and see other things that you couldn’t see at that time.”

In addition to the weekend lineup, there will be virtual partnering events throughout the five boroughs from September 28 to October 5, with organizations such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Public Library, PEN America, and the Center For Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, among others.

The book gurus plan to launch an online version of their popular Literary Marketplace this Friday, August 15 to highlight and help booksellers and publishers sell their work during the coming months.

“We felt that we could do this for the struggling industry to promote them in conjunction with the festival,” said Koch.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran on Brownstoner sister pub Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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