Brooklyn Book Festival 2020 Goes Virtual

The book festival will be celebrated online for the first time in the event’s 15-year history



Lasting until Oct. 5, the 15th annual Brooklyn Book Festival celebrates published literature and the literary community.


The 15th annual Brooklyn Book Festival kicked off Monday, Sept. 25, and will last until Oct. 5, with everything completely virtual this year. The weeklong program of events is New York City’s largest free literary festival and features a multitude of authors, readings, cultural events and performances, most of which are free.

Lulu Schmieta, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21 and a copy editor for The Observer, attended the Brooklyn Book Festival in the past and claims it is one of her favorite events in the city.

“The festival is essential to New York’s book scene, and it brings so many facets of the book world together for readers and writers,” Schmieta said.

The festival originally launched in 2006 as a one-day event to provide a major free literary program for New York book-lovers. The event has since expanded, and this year’s festival aimed to celebrate published literature and to support the literary community by providing programming that allows readers to connect with local, national and international authors, publishers and booksellers.

According to its website, the event aims to foster “creative dialogue among the authors,” and provide a platform for distinguished authors as well as new writers.

Some of this year’s famous authors at the festival include Lee Child, Salman Rushdie, Mia Couto, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Joyce Carol Oates, Adrian Tomine, Emily St. John Mandel, Claudia Rankine, Marie Lu and Colson Whitehead.

Events of the week consist of readings, discussions, performances and films for a range of ages and interests.

Some of these events include Latinx Storytelling Across all Genres, a viewing of the documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces,” and a panel discussion of writers, journalists and climate change activists about the importance of bringing about storytelling regarding the environmental crisis our world is facing.

Schmieta said she walked away with a deeper understanding of the book publishing industry. “It is made up of small presses, university presses, literary journals and magazines, awards, and nonprofits,” she said. 

In addition to the Bookend and Cultural Events and multitude of children’s and young adult events, Virtual Festival Day will take place on Sunday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. This will be a full day of more literature readings, discussions and webinars. 

One of these events includes a discussion on racism, classism, distrust and surveillance with award-winning novelist Kelli Jo Ford, 5 Under 35 honoree Tracy O’Neill and New York Times bestselling author Kelly Reid. One of the webinars features writers Tom Philpott, Saru Jayaram, Marion Nestle and Deborah Madison, who will discuss farming, food deserts and consumerism. Other events on Virtual Festival Day will include discussions on grief, life in the pandemic and art, as well as fictional stories about crime, love and coming-of-age.

It is clear that the Brooklyn Book Festival offers topics of interest to any age as well as events on a multitude of days at many different times. If you are looking for a fun way to learn more about the topics that appeal to you or are looking for new titles of books to read, be sure to check out this week of programming.