An Eye Towards the 2014 Brooklyn Book Festival


It’s Brooklyn Book Festival time; rather, this Sunday is Brooklyn Book Festival time. And, as with every year, the day will bring an abundance of excellent literary discussions. Going timeslot-by-timeslot through the schedule, here’s what I’m most excited about.

10:00 am –11:00 am

In _____ We Trust (Brooklyn Law School Student Lounge)
Scott Cheshire is the author of one of my favorite novels of this year, High As the Horses’ Bridles; Fiona Maazel is the author of one of my favorite novels of 2013, Woke Up Lonely. Throw in The Visionist author Rachel Urquhart and moderator Brook Wilensky-Lanford for a discussion on religion and fiction, and my interest is deeply piqued.


11:00 am – 12:00 pm

21st Century Narrators (North Stage)
Elif Batuman and Ben Lerner are doing a fantastic job of reinventing the concept of the public intellectual for the modern era with humor and self-awareness. Christine Smallwood from Harper’s and The Paris Review‘s Lorin Stein also know a thing or two about narrators and narration; moderating will be Christian Lorentzen.


12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

It’s the Little Things that Count (Brooklyn Historical Society Library)
Rob Spillman moderates a panel featuring Annie Baker, Owen Egerton, Sam Lipsyte, and Rivka Galchen. The topic will be a particular strain of bleak literary comedy, a subject all of these writers know quite well.


1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Swimming Against the Mainstream (St. Francis McArdle)
Alexander Chee moderates a panel featuring Jen Doll, Jen Kirkman, and Tanya Selvaratnam will discuss contemporary expectations of women. That is a whole lot of smart, insightful people in one place, is all I’m saying.


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

This Woman’s Work (St. Francis College Auditorium)
The prodigiously talented trio of Roxane Gay, Kiese Laymon, and Leslie Jamison all move between fiction and essays with ease. In this panel, moderated by Feminist Press’s Jennifer Baumgardner, they’ll be discussing feminism, gender roles in society, and more.


3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

People Fall Apart (Borough Hall Courtroom)
Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation was one of this year’s best novels; she and co-panelists Roland Watson-Grant and Jonathan Dee will discuss “the role of impermanence, forgiveness and magic when life falls apart.” Jason Diamond moderates.


4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Jonathan Lethem and Jules Feiffer in Conversation (St. Francis Auditorium)
That title about says it all, doesn’t it? Ken Chen of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop will moderate.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Music from the Margins: Cult Stars, Cult Songs and their Role in Our Lives (North Stage)
Three acclaimed writers who have wise things to say about music–Amanda Petrusich, Holly George-Warren, and Alan Light–discuss musical subgenres and isolated communities.

The entire festival schedule looks fantastic; hope to see you there.

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