Datebook: The Brooklyn Book Festival

Our don't-miss picks for this year's free literary bonanza.

Whitehead, Silverman and Doshi

Whitehead, Silverman and Doshi

Now in its fifth year, the Brooklyn Book Festival transforms the Borough of Kings into a playground for literary royalty—with all events open to the public for free. Given a schedule packed with everyone from members of the New York Review of Books roster and Sarah Silverman to Stephen Elliott and Rosanne Cash, it’s not surprising that the original main events on Sunday (at Brooklyn Borough Hall and St. Francis College) are now bookended by additional programs on Friday and Saturday. Understandably, the chances of being overwhelmed by so many choices are high. Here are our hour-by-hour picks for Sunday’s readings and discussions.

10am: It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It)
St. Francis Auditorium

Wake up with Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad), Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor) and Steve Almond (Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life) as they serve up a morning roast of readings, followed by a Q&A.

11am: Kafka on the Block
St. Francis Screening Room

The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts a panel discussion on Franz Kafka, in conjunction with its Next Wave Festival performance of Metamorphosis, that features the Kafkaesque Joshua Cohen (Witz) and Matthew Sharpe (Jamestown, You Were Wrong).

Noon: the World
St. Francis Reading Room

Keep your surrealist buzz going with Sam Lipsyte (The Ask), Rakesh Satyal (Blue Boy) and Kate Christensen (Trouble) as they discuss how truth is stranger than fiction—and how that informs their writing.

1pm: Paul Auster in Conversation with John Ashbery
St. Francis Auditorium

Just when you think Pulitzer Prize winner John Ashbery had no more awards to win, he pockets the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival “BoBi” Award. The 80-something-year-old poet discusses his life and work with fellow heavy-hitter Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy).

2pm: Eating Our Words
North Stage

Gabrielle Hamilton (chef and owner of Prune), James Beard Award winner Ted Lee, Salon food columnist Francis Lam and Melanie Rehak (author of Eating for Beginners) go from chopping block to writer’s block in this kitchen confidential.

3pm: Sarah Silverman and David Rakoff

He once impersonated Freud in a window display at Barney’s. She still wets the bed. When they get together to talk about her first book and his upcoming third collection of essays, things can only get funnier.

4pm: The Pleasure Seekers: Salman Rushdie in Conversation with Tishani Doshi
St. Francis Auditorium

Live from the NYPL presents the agent provocateur (and ex--Mr. Padma Lakshmi) discussing Indian-Pakistani literature with Tishani Doshi, whose elegant new novel, The Pleasure Seekers, is now out.

5pm: Border Crossings
International Stage

Wrap up the day with a multiculti twist: Russian novelist Gary Shteyngart (Super Sad True Love Story), Ethiopian author Maaza Mengiste (Beneath the Lion’s Gaze) and Mexican essayist Lus Alberto Urrea (Into the Beautiful North) use their words to create a cultural fusion.

See more in Books