Brooklyn Book Festival Beat Rainy Afternoon

By Maryann Yin 

Despite Mother Nature’s refusal to cooperate, readers from around New York City attended the 5th annual Brooklyn Book Festival yesterday. Festival founder and Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz commented: “Well, Brooklyn is the literary center of New York City. And if you don’t believe me, look. Look for yourselves. If you’re into reading, this is where you should be.”

Poet John Ashbery won this year’s Best of Brooklyn, Inc. award (BoBi). Each year, the festival recognizes a literary figure whose work embraces and speaks to the Brooklyn spirit. Ashbery has worked as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, co-directed the MFA program at Brooklyn College, and served as New York State poet laureate from 2001 to 2003.

Fans cheerfully suffered the rain to see some of their favorite authors at several outdoor stages. Literary blogger Edward Champion shot videos, NY1 braved the weather, and the NY Post chased controversy.

Joining Ashbery were several seasoned literary veterans including Mona Simpson, Pete Hamill, and Sir Salman Rushdie. Entertainment personalities who showed up include musician Rosanne Cash, comedienne Sarah Silverman, and tennis star Venus Williams. The YouTube video embedded above showcases several of the other participating authors such as Paul Harding, a 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for his debut novel Tinkers, Gary Shteyngart, the pen behind one of this summer’s blockbusters Super Sad True Love Story, and Sara Shepard, whose YA series Pretty Little Liars was recently made into an ABC Family television series.