Boston Book Festival Celebrates its Fifth Year of Success in Copley Square
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 23:10
The 2013 Boston Book Festival (BFF), one of the largest literary events in the world, returns to the city for its fifth year this weekend beginning today, Thursday, Oct. 17 and running through Saturday, Oct. 19. The main events of the festival will take place in various locations around Copley Square, with venues at Trinity Church, Old South Church, and the Boston Public Library, among others. Since its first year in Boston in 2009, the BFF has drawn upward of 20,000 attendees.
In addition to presentations and panels featuring internationally known writers, scholars, critics, and commentators, BFF attendees can enjoy live musical performances by students from the Berklee College of Music, writing workshops and competitions, and programming for children and teens. Resembling something of a street fair, the BFF will bring local artisans, food from local venders, and exhibits by independent publishers.
Deborah Z. Porter, founder and executive director of the BFF, notes that Boston experienced a “significant deficiency” due to its lack of a free book festival, a staple in most major cities, before 2009, and stresses the importance of such events to the public, who “should have access to our thinkers, writers, and public intellectuals in a joyous atmosphere of celebration.” Porter said, “The realms of literature and ideas should not be left in the ivory towers of our universities … they need to find their way to the streets.”
The festival, its goal being “to promote a culture of reading and ideas and enhances the vibrancy of our city,” will feature over 150 world-class presenters. Presenters include Wes Craven, Kate DiCamillo, Joe Klein, Lois Lowry, J. Courtney Sullivan, Salman Rushdie, and Boston College’s own Paul Reynolds—a part-time professor of digital media production in the communication department, who will be joined by his twin, Peter H. Reynolds, a fellow author and illustrator.
In addition to these presenters, there will also be publishers’ exhibits and authors’ symposiums on various literary subjects, with exhibits such as “Synthetic Biology: Designing Life,” “Being and Becoming: Identity in Fiction” and “Herstory: Women in History.” Crime fiction fans can attend a panel of “Plot Conjurers,” during which five best-selling crime fiction authors—Peter Abrahams, Linda Barnes, Mike Cooper, Sara J. Henry, and Steve Ulfelder—will stitch a plot together using suggestions from the audience while sharing their strategies for weaving together setting, characters, and storyline.
The festival’s daytime events are free to all, but events taking place each evening of the festival require the purchase of tickets. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bostonbookfest.org, with events that include “Writing Terror: An Exploration of Fear” on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Back Bay Events Center. This event brings together writers whose work is about terror and terrorism, featuring Wes Craven, Mary Louise Kelly, Jessica Stern, and Valerie Plame Wilson, and is moderated by Joe Klein. Tickets are available for $12 (lower orchestra) or $6 (upper orchestra).
The following day at 7:30 p.m. at the Old South Sanctuary, features this year’s keynote speaker, Salman Rushdie. Rushdie is renowned as one of the world’s most acclaimed novelists, intellectuals, and symbols of free expression, with works that have received both great praise and intense condemnation. Advanced tickets have already sold out, but a limited number of tickets may be available at the door for $10, cash only.
The final ticketed event is a live show on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at 40 Trinity Place, by Cambridge-based comedy group, You’re the Expert, which features comedians Myq Kaplan, Brendan Pelsue, and Robert Woo. The troupe will perform comical sketches and games as a part of its interpretation of what John Overholt, Harvard’s curator of early modern books and manuscripts, does on a daily basis for his job. Tickets are still available, for $10.
The BFF will be have exhibitions for children who attend, such as several arts and crafts stations as well as readings of children’s books by their authors. Four Newbury Medal winners—authors who were awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year—will give presentations. This year, the distinguished medal-winners include Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, and Tomie dePaola, the children’s keynote speaker at this year’s BFF and writer and illustrator of the 1976 bestseller, Strega Nona.
This year’s BFF will have an additional special event featuring the reporters and photographers who were at the scene of the Boston Marathon Bombings this past April. During the panel, called “The Boston Marathon: Telling Tragedy’s Story,” the journalists will talk about what they witnessed on that day. In solidarity with the attitude “Boston Strong,” literary agent and editor Andrew Blauner organized a group of local authors to contribute essays about the city for Our Boston: Writers Celebrate the City They Love. The book’s sales proceeds will go to One Fund Boston.