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A-list, crowds expected at Brooklyn Book Fest

The Brooklyn Book Festival has quickly become one

The Brooklyn Book Festival has quickly become one of the nation's top events of its kind since starting in 2006. (Sept. 18, 2011) Credit: AP

The Brooklyn Book Festival, scheduled for Sunday and now in its seventh year, has rapidly become one of the top events of its kind in the country, with 280 writers taking part, including A-listers like Mary Higgins Clark, and crowds expected to approach 40,000.

The festival's success has earned it comparisons with more established book fairs in places like Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, but its buzz is partly due to Brooklyn's latest incarnation as a trendy hotbed of hipsters and artists. The borough is home to many well-known contemporary writers like Martin Amis, Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Safran Foer.

As it does every year, this year's schedule includes some writers with Brooklyn connections, like Colson Whitehead and Paul Auster, who live in the borough; Pete Hamill, who was born in Brooklyn and is receiving an award at the event called "Best of Brooklyn, Inc."; and Edwidge Danticat, whose fiction about the Caribbean often portrays the immigrant community in Brooklyn.

But while organizers are proud of the borough's literary prowess, they also stress that "the Brooklyn Book Festival is in no way, shape or form just about Brooklyn," said Johnny Temple, chairman of the Brooklyn Literary Council and head of a Brooklyn publishing house called Akashic Books.

"We go out of our way to ensure the authors we invite appeal to everyone," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, one of the festival's founders. "They include intellectuals as well as authors that have greater mass market appeal and celebrities."

In addition to Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol, who is also a bestselling mystery writer, other authors on the roster include Terry McMillan, Joyce Carol Oates and Judith Viorst.

Celebrities taking part include actor Tony Danza, whose new book, "I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had," recalls his year teaching at Philadelphia's largest high school, and Jimmie Walker, who starred in the TV sitcom "Good Times" and wrote a memoir called "Dyn-O-Mite."

One seminar looks at poetry and narratives in light of the Arab Spring, while Isabel Wilkerson will talk about her book, "The Warmth of Other Suns," about the 20th century migration of African-Americans from the American South to the North.

There's also an extensive schedule of children's writers as well as writing workshops. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.


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