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Our Guide to the 2017 Brooklyn Book Festival & Bookend Events

By Words Without Borders

The Brooklyn Book Festival is this Sunday, with a stellar lineup of literary conversations, preceded by exciting Bookend events all this week, beginning with tonight’s kickoff party. On Thursday, Words Without Borders and Guernica will be hosting an evening of readings and conversation on the theme of “crossing,” with Salar Abdoh, ​Young-ha Kim, Giuseppe Caputo, and Krys Lee. 

Below is our itinerary of not-to-be-missed festival and bookend events featuring international writers and translators, including WWB contributors.

Tuesday, September 12 

7:30pm    Another Way to Say
(A Public Space, 323 Dean Street, Brooklyn; Free)
A Public Space and Another Way to Say present a special installment of Another Way to Say, a monthly reading series for emerging and established translators. This evening will feature readings by writers and translators published by A Public Space, Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani; other emerging translators; as well a Q&A to investigate the work presented.


Thursday, September 14

6:00pm    Crossings: An Evening of Conversations Across Borders 
(Brooklyn Art Library, 28 Frost Street, Brooklyn; Free)
Readings and conversation about place, migration, and international translation with ​Salar Abdoh, ​Young-ha KimGiuseppe Caputo, and Krys Lee. Moderated by WWB Daily editor Jessie Chaffee. Seating is first come first serve. Reception to follow. More Information/RSVP

7:30pm    Litro Magazine World Series: Breaking Borders Edition Launch & Benefit
(La Palapa, 77 Saint Marks Place, New York; $75)
London literary magazine Litro, Brooklyn non-profit publisher Restless Books, and a continent-spanning array of writers, artists, actors, and musicians present an evening of Latin American food, music, and culture at the East Village Mexican restaurant La Palapa. More Information/Tickets

7:30pm    Karl Ove Knausgaard presents Autumn
(St. Joseph’s College New York, 245 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn; $30)
Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard introduces a new autobiographical quartet, beginning with Autumn. Knausgaard talks about his work and his new project with novelist Katie Kitamura, followed by a book signing. Each $30 ticket includes admission to the event, as well as a hardcover copy of Autumn. More Information/Tickets


Friday, September 15

7:00pm    Moonbath Booklaunch with Yanick Lahens & Lisa Lucas
(Albertine, 972 Fifth Avenue, New York; Free)
Award-winning Haitian author Yanick Lahens discusses her just-released novel, Moonbath (Deep Vellum), with Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation. A glass of wine will follow. More Information

7:00pm    Searching for Home
(Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 112 West 27th Street, #600, New York; Free)
A special event about Middle East politics, revolution, and the refugee experience. Iranian-American fiction writer Dina Nayeri, the author of Refuge (Riverhead, 2017) will read alongside Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek, the author of The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria (Nation Books, 2017).

7:30pm    Annual Brooklyn Indie Party
(Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; Free)
Greenlight partners with the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), as well as some of Brooklyn’s best independent book and magazine publishers, to kick off Brooklyn Book Festival weekend with food, drinks, music & more. Featuring Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, Belladonna, Enchanted Lion, Ig Publishing, Kicks Books, Melville House, One Story, powerHouse Books, The Song Cave, Stonecutter, Tin House Books, and others.  


Saturday, September 16

7:00pm    Readings, Rum & Reasoning—A Caribbean Literary Lime
(South Oxford Space, 138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn; $10)
Caribbean Cultural Theatre, CaribbeanRead, and Read Jamaica present a conversation on what is “Classic” Caribbean Literature and who is producing the “New Classics.’’ With YA author, Tamika Gibson (Trinidad), award-winning novelist, Kei Miller (Jamaica), and (as referee) author and storyteller, Florenz Webbe Maxwell (Bermuda). 


Sunday, September 17

11:00am    The Far Reaches of Empire: Religion, Rebels, and Railroads
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
From the Kenyan highlands to rural Madagascar and the far northeast of India, the European imperial project was extended in great part through missionary zeal, train lines, and terror. Peter Kimani (Dance of the Jakaranda), Naivo (Beyond the Rice Fields), and Avinuo Kire (The Power to Forgive) investigate the reverberations of these encounters and their lasting toll on ordinary lives. Moderated by Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, Director of Public Programs at PEN America.

12:00pm    Self-Inquisition & The City presented by WORD Bookstores
(North Stage, Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn)
The metropolis offers a bountiful structure for books about self-inquiry, with space for the highly strange to the coldly civilized—as well as the private life of the mind. Bonnie Huie (Notes of a Crocodile) translates the celebrated Qiu Miaojin’s Taipei-set novel of self-liberation through radically writing oneself inward, and Brazilian actress and writer Fernanda Torres (The End, trans. Alison Entrekin) presents psychologically sharp and unforgiving depictions of former friends in Rio reflecting in their final hours. Conversation and Q&A moderated by WWB Daily editor Jessie Chaffee (Florence in Ecstasy), whose debut richly explores ascetic self-destruction in Florence.

12:00pm    Spanning Place and Time: Migration and Memory
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
The immediacy of memory—personal, familial, cultural—creates a sense of being both lost in time and present within it. In Swallowing Mercury, Polish poet Wioletta Greg reaches back to 1980s communist Poland, Norwegian writer Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees explores family legacies impacted by environmental changes, and Colombian author Santiago Gamboa’s Return to the Dark Valley delves into the turbulent lives of global migrants in a violent world. Moderated by Gabriel Sanders of Tablet Magazine.

1:00pm    Into the Void: Searching for Lost, Unknown, and Stolen Family
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
The trauma of families torn apart by events beyond their control drive these powerful narratives by Pulitzer Prize winner Hisham Matar (The Return), and Windham-Campbell Prize recipients Ali Cobby Eckermann (Inside My Mother), and Erna Brodber (Nothing’s Mat). They show an interminable void between generations —from Qaddafi’s Libya, to Australia’s stolen generation, and Jamaica’s tumultuous past —recovering lost histories; the half of the story that has not been told. Moderated by Michael Kelleher, Director, Windham-Campbell Prizes, and author of Visible Instruments.

2:00pm    Following Clues
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
Literature, like life, can be riddled with mysteries, subterfuges, and half-truths. Follow the path of revelations in work ranging from Trinidadian-Canadian author and recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize André Alexis’s off-beat noir (The Hidden Keys), to South Korean Young-ha Kim’s adrenaline rush through underground Seoul (I Hear Your Voice), and Swiss author Pascale Kramer’s exploration of political—and familial—scandal (Autopsy of a Father). Moderated by Dwight Garner, NYT.

2:00pm    How Artists Think
(St. Francis College, Founder’s Hall, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn)
Design legend Seymour Chwast (At War with War), internationally recognized cartoonist Liniers (Macanudo), and rising star, Brooklyn-based creator Leslie Stein (Present) explore how their artistic lives and careers have been shaped by influences, opportunities, and the times they’ve lived in. A look into the minds of artists who have shaped graphic design, illustration, and comic-strip storytelling into their own distinct points of view. Moderated by Karen Green, Columbia University Libraries.

3:00pm    Where Are We From? Who Are We Now?
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
Origin stories—of communities, families, individuals—can take a variety of forms and be told in multiple ways.  Kei Miller magically recounts the roots of a Jamaican hill town and the legend of its flying prophet in Augustown, while Yanick Lahens’s multi-generational Moonbath graphically reflects the upheavals of Haiti itself. Kosovan-Finish author Pajtim Statovci slyly depicts a lonely immigrant’s personal awakening in My Cat Yugoslavia. Moderated by Kaiama L. Glover (Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon).

4:00pm    Lust for Life: The Search for Meaning, Inside and Outside Family
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
How much of our idea of fulfillment and identity is tied to our roles within the family, as spouses, parents, and children? And when is it necessary to forge new paths alone? American author Jonathan Safran Foer (Here I Am), Brazilian Fernanda Torres (The End), and Bolivian Rodrigo Hasbún (Affections) offer fascinating portraits of lives caught in the balance. Moderated by Elissa Schappell (Blueprints for Building Better Girls).

5:00pm    The Wisdom of the Mundane
(St. Francis College, Founder’s Hall, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn)
Karl Ove Knausgaard (Autumn), Osama Alomar (The Teeth of the Comb), and Jana Beňová (Seeing People Off) are masters of observation and sharp insight. In their hands, inanimate objects, personified animals, and everyday occurrences are given the majesty of prophecy. Like meeting an oracle in a dream, their fictions make us see our reality anew. Moderated by Rivka Galchen (Little Labors).

5:00pm    Acquired Knowledge: The Mysteries and Perils of Adolescence
(Borough Hall Media Room, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn)
Education goes far beyond the classroom, especially when it comes to the lessons that cut the deepest. Whether growing apart from a lifelong friend in adolescence, exploring philosophical ideas typically considered beyond a child’s grasp, or losing a close friend before their time, the roller-coaster ride of youth can be terrifying. Claire Messud (The Burning Girl), Norwegian Jostein Gaarder (Questions Asked), and Sorayya Khan (City of Spies: A Novel) cover the many ways the world can change before a young person’s eyes. Moderated by Eric Banks.

Published Sep 11, 2017   Copyright 2017 Words Without Borders

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