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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Second annual Bay Area Book Festival at Berkeley announces schedule

Second annual Bay Area Book Festival at Berkeley announces schedule

Highlights to include 280 authors, a film and literature series, and the return of Lacuna, a 50,000-book public art installation

BERKELEY, Calif., April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bay Area Book Festival returns to downtown Berkeley, Calif., the weekend of June 4-5, 2016. Presented in partnership with the San Francisco Chronicle, the two-day, free Festival will welcome 280 local, national, and international authors and speakers in 120 literary sessions (panels, interviews, keynotes and performances) throughout a 10-block radius of downtown Berkeley. Organizers expect to top last year's attendance of 50,000 visitors. The Festival's inaugural year was 2015.

The full list of authors and the schedule appear at

Highlights include appearances by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín (interviewed by UC Berkeley's Chancellor Nicholas Dirks); recent Pulitzer Prize winners T. J. Stiles and William Finnegan; past Pulitzer winners Richard Russo, Adam Johnson and Robert Hass; U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang; and, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who will be launching her memoir.

Among dozens of best-selling American writers speaking at the Festival will be Sherman Alexie, Daniel Handler, Jonathan Lethem, Rebecca Solnit, Dana Spiotta and Jacqueline Winspear. Spoken-word poet and musician Saul Williams, who has performed in 30 countries in venues ranging from Lincoln Center to the Louvre, will appear in a special performance on Thursday, June 2.

With writers coming from 13 countries, including Egypt, Taiwan, Korea, India and several European nations, the Festival is the most international literary gathering currently taking place in the western United States. The international authors include outspoken Egyptian feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy.

"The Bay Area is a global hub," said Cherilyn Parsons, founder and executive director of the Festival. "Bay Area residents love to hear fresh voices and new ideas. That openness helps make this region one of the most innovative in the world."

This year the Festival has significantly expanded its children's and teen programs, even creating separate web pages for age categories. For the under-7 crowd and their parents, a free outdoor Kids' Stage offers lively interactive performances, while indoor sessions help parents find the best picture books for their kids. For middle-graders, best-selling authors such as Judy Moody anchor indoor sessions that parents and their children can attend together. A robust teen lineup features authors such as Shaun David Hutchinson and Lauren Myracle.

A special focus is diversity, particularly in children's literature, with panels such as "Inshallah! A Celebration of Muslims in Children's Literature" and "Diverse Books Matter (to Kids and Everyone)."

Fifty-four exhibitors will cater to children and teens. As at last year's inaugural Festival, the East Bay Children's Book Project and Half Price Books will team up to give 15,000 books to young people.

The 105 indoor sessions will take place in 14 venues throughout downtown Berkeley. Sessions are free, though for most of them, half of the seats have been made available beforehand (at $5 each) for festivalgoers who prefer to avoid lines and guarantee themselves admission. Tickets are available for purchase on the site and at each session listed on the schedule.

Outdoors, over 220 exhibitors, almost of all them literary-related, will fill downtown Berkeley. Streets will be renamed Literary Lane, Inspirational Ave., Eco Alley, Maker's Lane, Writer's Row, and Radical Row, and be closed for pedestrian-only access.

Festivalgoers also will participate in a dazzling public art installation made entirely of 50,000 physical books, which are free for the public to take. Called Lacuna, the project is an interactive work by the FLUX Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to engage people in designing and building large-scale public art as a catalyst for education, collaboration and empowerment. The books are donated by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit online library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more.

This year the Festival launches a film and literature screening series in collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Guest-curated for BAMPFA by Tom Luddy, co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, "Author, Auteur" includes ten films that directly relate to writers and writing and are introduced by the filmmakers or by distinguished writers. Examples are films inspired by W.G. Sebald's "Austerlitz" (introduced by Dana Spiotta) and Orhan Pamuk's "Museum of Innocence" (introduced by Jonathan Lethem), and documentaries on poets Elizabeth Bishop, Bob Kaufman, Czeslaw Milosz and Carlos Drummond.

The San Francisco Chronicle is the Festival's major media sponsor, and the event's main stage will carry the Chronicle's name. Chroniclereporters will take part as moderators and interviewers. The newspaper also will print and distribute the Festival's program guide in its Sunday edition on May 29, the weekend before the Festival.

"We are proud to be a part of the second year of the Bay Area Book Festival, featuring expanded programming and panels for literature enthusiasts. We are pleased to again partner with this signature cultural event in Northern California," said Jeffrey Johnson, publisher of the Chronicle.

The Bay Area Book Festival is a project of Independent Arts & Media, a nonprofit charity with federal 501(c)(3) designation. Contributions to the Festival are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Festival is supported by corporate sponsors, foundations and individuals.

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