Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

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Saturday, October 3, 2020

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What's New in Graphic Memoir
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Joel Christian Gill
Joel Christian Gill
Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence
Georgia Webber
Georgia Webber
Dancing After TEN
Sophie Yanow
Sophie Yanow
The Contradictions
A. David Lewis
A. David Lewis
Kismet: Man of Fate

Call it autobio, memoir, or autofiction, personal narratives have become one of the most important genres in comics and graphic novels. The creators on this panel have published three of the most powerful, probing and honest entries in this genre during the past year, demonstrating the range of the form in these examples alone.  How do creators shape lived experience—including trauma, illness and other important passages—into involving graphic narratives? What personal and creative issues have they dealt with in the process?  

This BBF Warmup Weekend session is part of the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, held virtually from October 3–25!
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Sunday, October 4, 2020

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Under the Radar Book Club
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Our first session of BBF 2020 will be broadcast on Under the Radar with Callie Crossley on GBH radio, 89.7. Tune in or listen later to Callie Crossley’s conversation with Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey about her memoir, Memorial Drive. Trethewey brings a poet’s lyricism to the tale of her mother’s murder by her ex-husband, Trethewey’s stepfather. The title refers to the road where Trethewey’s mother was killed, which runs from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain, the nation’s largest monument to the Confederacy. It  refers also to the author’s birthday on Confederate Memorial Day and to the task of memorializing and contextualizing her mother’s life and death. The New York Times review describes this searing work as “a controlled burn of chaos and intellection; it is a memoir that will really lay you out.” Join Callie Crossley and Natasha Trethewey for this unique audio kickoff to BBF 2020.

Monday, October 5, 2020

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Out of This World Storytime: Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Saturn Surprise
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Oneeka Williams
Oneeka Williams
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Saturn Surprise

Dr. Oneeka Williams infuses her passion and knowledge about science into every page of her Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo books for young readers. To kick off our series of “out of this world” storytimes celebrating outer space as part of World Space Week, we’ll accompany Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo on an interplanetary journey to help solve a mystery on Saturn! Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the author! All donations collected in conjunction with this session will go to the Boston Globe's Globe Santa program.

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

Ages 5–8

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Opening Keynote
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Michael J. Sandel
Michael J. Sandel
The Tyranny of Merit

In The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? political philosopher and academic rockstar Michael J. Sandel explains how belief in a meritocratic ideal has had a corrosive effect on the dignity of work and has left many in our society feeling humiliated and resentful. America’s bedrock belief that hard work and talent allows people to rise is belied by the facts: it is easier to rise from poverty in Canada, Germany, Denmark, and other European countries than in the United States. The winners in our society hold the smug conviction that they deserve success and that the losers, too, deserve their fate. This attitude has led us in a straight line to the election of Donald Trump. Sandel posits that there should be an equality of condition in America, one that allows those without great power or prestige to also live with dignity and the esteem of others. This is a message we all need to hear. Join Michael Sandel in conversation with the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning host of WBUR’s Here & Now, Robin Young. 90.9 WBUR is the media sponsor of this session.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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Out of This World Storytime: Starcrossed
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Julia Denos
Julia Denos
Star Crossed

As long as stories have been told, people have been telling stories about stars and the constellations they make. Now it’s author and artist Julia Denos’s turn to imagine a story set amid the patterns in the night sky. Join us for an “out of this world” storytime celebrating outer space as part of World Space Week as Denos reads from Starcrossed, her picture book about a star-crossed friendship between a human girl and a constellation of a boy and shares her inspiration for her beautiful artwork. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the author! All donations collected in conjunction with this session will go to the Boston Globe's Globe Santa program.

Ages 6–9

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Pathogens and Pills
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Peter Kolchinsky
Peter Kolchinsky
The Great American Drug Deal: A New Prescription for Innovative and Affordable Medicines
Muhammad H. Zaman
Muhammad H. Zaman
Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens

Our interest in pathogens has peaked recently, for obvious reasons. And while this session is not specifically about COVID-19, there are many overlapping themes. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more than 50 million people, but although it was a virus that first invaded the body, bacterial infection in the lungs was ultimately responsible for most of the deaths. In its starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls Muhammad Zaman’s Biography of Resistance “a vivid portrayal of our fight against an opponent that has been around for more than 3 billion years. [Zaman] portrays a conflict—between humans and harmful strains of bacteria—that has played out in plagues and epidemics over millennia.” Fighting drug-resistant bacteria requires international cooperation, not to mention the participation of drug companies, which have little economic incentive to invest in antibiotic research. Drug companies are the subject of virologist and drug industry expert Peter Kolchinsky’s The Great American Drug Deal. He argues that there are solutions to the trade-off between drug affordability, innovation, and the drive for profits. In the end, it’s the insurance companies that  Kolchinsky calls out for making an already bad situation worse. Kirkus Reviews calls The Great American Drug Deal a “serious, impassioned, and informed call for change.” Join us for this eye-opening and urgent session, hosted by Deborah Becker, senior correspondent and host at WBUR, the media sponsor for this session.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

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Out of This World Storytime: Your Place in the Universe
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Jason Chin
Jason Chin
Your Place in the Universe

In previous award-winning books, author and artist Jason Chin has led readers on fantastic voyages into the Grand Canyon, through the redwood forest, and down to coral reefs. Now Chin takes readers on a mind-blowing journey that illustrates just how extraordinarily huge our universe is. In this “out of this world” storytime celebrating outer space as part of World Space Week, Chin will read from Your Place in the Universe and lead an art activity based on his book. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the author!

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

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Story Time: I Am Every Good Thing
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Derrick Barnes
Derrick Barnes
I Am Every Good Thing
Gordon C. James
Gordon C. James
I Am Every Good Thing

Author Derrick Barnes and artist Gordon James previously teamed up on the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut, which received the Coretta Scott King Award and Caldecott and Newbery Honors. Now the duo have teamed up again on I Am Every Good Thing, a celebration of Black excellence and, according to a starred Kirkus review, a book “brimming with imagination and Black-boy joy.” James’s vibrant paintings powerfully echo messages of confidence and pride: “I am worthy of success / of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness.” Barnes and James will read from their book, offer insights into its creation, and participate in a brief Q&A with the Boston Public Library’s Philecia Harris. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creators!

Ages 4–8

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Reading Like a Writer: Protest
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Asha Lemmie
Asha Lemmie
Fifty Words for Rain
Anna Solomon
Anna Solomon
The Book of V.

For the past several years, the BBF’s “Reading Like a Writer” series of craft-focused author discussions have become fan favorites, giving attendees an opportunity to dig deep and gain insights into the choices that shape a writer’s craft. In this session, host Michelle Hoover will guide us through close readings of excerpts from the work of three authors whose new novels contain elements of protest. In The Book of V., novelist (and past One City One Story author) Anna Solomon disrupts patriarchal norms with a tripartite reckoning with the Biblical story of Esther that the Washington Post calls a “multifaceted masterwork.” Debut novelist Asha Lemmie, in Fifty Words for Rain, offers an epic tale of family reckoning and coming of age, about a girl born to a Japanese noblewoman and a Black American GI during World War II. And in his debut novel, Winter Counts, David Heska Wanbli Weiden pens a thriller about a modern-day vigilante whose quest for justice provokes a reckoning with his own Native identity. These authors will provide context for their own excerpts and will interact with one another’s work as well—it’s like a master class for writers and readers alike! Register for this session in advance on Crowdcast to access the authors’ excerpts and to add your own questions and observations to the conversation. Sponsored by Greenough Brand Storytellers.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

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Picture Book Creator Q&A: Okapi Tale
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Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. First up are writer Jacob Kramer and artist K-Fai Steele, whose new book Okapi Tale is a companion to their earlier book Noodlephant. This time, the animal inhabitants of Beaston take on capitalism and privatization with cooperation and creativity! Watch Kramer and Steele read their book in our on-demand video, and then tune in for this Q&A with author and racial justice educator Francie Latour. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creators!

Ages 6–10

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How to Be a Better Human
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Brad Aronson
Brad Aronson
HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time
Max Bazerman
Max Bazerman
Better, Not Perfect: A Realist's Guide to Maximum Sustainable Goodness
Molly Howes
Molly Howes
A Good Apology: Four Steps to Make Things Right

Let’s start with an apology. When we hurt someone else or have been hurt by someone else, the true pain often lies in the inability to fix the breach, rather than the incident itself. In A Good Apology, clinical psychologist Molly Howes guides readers through the steps of a meaningful apology, illustrating her principles with stories of clients who healed broken relationships as well as with apologies that have played out in the public sphere. From there, we move to ethical living. According to Harvard Business School professor Max Bazerman, ethics are not something reserved for philosophers—we all make ethical decisions daily. In Better, Not Perfect, he offers a guide for how to clarify goals and balance competing claims to attain “maximum sustainable goodness.” And finally, if you have ever wondered how one person can have a positive impact on the world, Brad Aronson has some answers. Small, simple acts of humankindness, such as the ones that Brad and his family experienced when they went through a very dark time, can change lives. In HumanKind, he tells the stories of the transformative effects of small acts and offers over fifty ways that you too can change someone’s life. Our session on goodness will be hosted by the great Meghan Irons, who writes for the Boston Globe on how culture, politics, and social issues intersect with everyday life. The Boston Globe is the media sponsor for this session.

Friday, October 9, 2020

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Pete Buttigieg: Trust
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Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg
Trust: America's Best Chance

We are excited to partner with the Boston Globe and their Op-Talks event series in hosting Pete Buttigieg to discuss his important new book, Trust: America’s Best Chance. Trust in our institutions and each other is the glue that holds societies together, Buttigieg argues. Mayor Pete uses a blend of history, political philosophy, and memoir to show how trust has been destroyed by a confluence of forces. To confront the grave challenges facing us—climate change, racial justice, and now, pandemic—Buttigieg contends that we can and must create, repair, and deepen networks of trust. He hopes to inspire a movement to rebuild the foundations of trust that have weakened over time and which our current polarized time has stressed to the point of breaking. Join Mayor Pete as he talks to Bina Venkataraman, the Boston Globe’s Editorial Page Editor and author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

Buy Trust: America's Best Chance (A special thanks to Harvard Book Store for offering a special discounted price of $16 for attendees who purchase the book through our links!)

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Picture Book Creator Q&A: Everything Naomi Loved
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Katie Yamasaki
Katie Yamasaki
Everything Naomi Loved

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. In her new picture book, muralist Katie Yamasaki writes about a young girl who loves her vibrant city block (“It wasn’t pretty but it was alive!”) and mourns its rapid change into a place she no longer recognizes. Everything Naomi Loved offers a concrete, child-centered portrait of gentrification and, as Publishers Weekly notes in a starred review, “champions the power of ordinary people to preserve what’s lost through art.” Watch Yamasaki read her book in our on-demand video, and then tune in for this Q&A with author and racial justice educator Francie Latour. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creator!

Ages 5–8

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The Gastronomy of Memory
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John Birdsall
John Birdsall
The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard
Fanny Singer
Fanny Singer
Always Home: A Daughter's Recipes & Stories

A biographer and a memoirist will talk about giants of the culinary world in this session on food. John Birdsall’s biography of the charismatic and legendary taste-maker, James Beard, in the words of the Publishers Weekly starred review, “ offers a tangy portrait of the backstabbing world of post–WWII food writing along with vivid, novelistic evocations of Beard’s flavor experiences…”  Fanny Singer’s Always Home, titled before coronavirus but more apt now than ever, is as much an homage to her mother, food icon Alice Waters, as it is a memoir.  According to Kirkus Reviews, Singer’s memoir “bursts with sensuous descriptions of tastes, fragrances, and textures as she recounts her “very rich and full and just a little bit unconventional” young life.” Bonus: there are sixty recipes included! Join us for some delicious discourse all about the epicurean life, hosted by Amy Traverso, senior food writer at Yankee magazine and author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, newly re-released in a revised and updated edition.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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Picture Book Creator Q&A: A Place Inside of Me
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Noa Denmon
Noa Denmon
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Zetta Elliott
Zetta Elliott
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. Poet Zetta Elliott has written books for all ages; in her last, she transforms a lyrical poem into a powerful picture book with dynamic artwork by Noa Denmon, tracing the evolving emotions of a young Black child over the course of a year as his community rebounds from a police shooting. Watch Elliott read her book in our on-demand video, and then tune in for this Q&A with Elliott, Denmon, and author and racial justice educator Francie Latour. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creators!

Ages 5–8

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The Fierce Urgency of Now
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Eitan Hersh
Eitan Hersh
Politics Is for Power
DeRay Mckesson
DeRay Mckesson
On the Other Side of Freedom

A 2018 survey found that Americans reported shockingly low levels of civic engagement over the previous year. Almost half surveyed said they did nothing: no petitions signed, no volunteering for a cause, no political donations. Is 2020 the year when all that changes? Find out from three authors who have studied and practiced activism. Eitan Hersh, in Politics Is for Power, calls out folks, especially liberals, for feeling like they are being political when often they are merely political hobbyists, consuming news and virtue signaling on social media. More is needed, he cautions, if we want change. In Why We Act, Catherine A. Sanderson uses neuroscience to explain why some people are capable of exhibiting moral courage and standing up for what’s right, while others go along with the group. Sanderson believes it is possible to learn to be brave in the face of wrongdoing. In 2014, DeRay Mckesson quit his job, moved to Ferguson, and spent four hundred days on the streets demanding justice. In On the Other Side of Freedom, this civil rights activist, co-founder of Campaign Zero, and host of Pod Save the People explores the nature of resistance and gives an insider’s look at the Black Lives Matter movement. Tonya Mosley, co-host of Here & Now on WBUR, will lead this not-to-be missed session on a topic critical to our current moment. 90.9 WBUR is the media sponsor for this session.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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Story Time: All Because You Matter
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Tami Charles
Tami Charles
All Because You Matter
Bryan Collier
Bryan Collier
All Because You Matter

In an author’s note to her new picture book All Because You Matter, Tami Charles acknowledges that its inspiration was the knowledge that at some point she’d need to sit her Black son down for The Big Talk, “the one where I tell him that while there are many nice people in the world, not everyone is.” All Because You Matter offers parents with a starting point for a family conversation about the racial climate in this country, a conversation that starts with an affirmation of value and worth rather than one of fear. Caldecott Honor artist Bryan Collier uses bold watercolor and collage illustrations to reinforce Charles’s words of pride in one’s heritage and identity. Charles and Collier will read from their book, offer insights into its creation, and participate in a brief Q&A with the Boston Public Library's Akunna Eneh. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creators!

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations. Note that this session will not be archived anywhere, so be sure to tune in live!

Ages 4–8

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The Color of Innovation: Women of Color in Tech
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Ainissa Ramirez
Ainissa Ramirez
The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another
Susanne Tedrick
Susanne Tedrick
Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators

This wide-ranging session offers an eye-opening survey of the past, present, and future for women of color in the tech industry. In The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, materials scientist Ainissa Ramirez profiles eight significant inventions and examines how they have shaped the human experience. Among the many fascinating stories she shares, Ramirez also highlights the work of inventors of color and women whose significant contributions have previously been hidden or downplayed. Susanne Tedrick currently works in the industry as a technical specialist; her book Women of Color in Tech surveys the current climate for women of color in tech careers and serves as a handbook for how to break into the field—and find the support needed to thrive there. Mentoring the next generation of women innovators of color is the specialty of our third guest, Bridgette Wallace, one of the co-founders of Roxbury’s G|Code House, a co-living, working, and learning environment for young women interested in tech careers. Our host for this session is Carissa Romain, an experienced writer, interviewer, and host of The Formula, a digital series highlighting Black women with fascinating careers. Sponsored by the Wagner Foundation.

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

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Picture Book Creator Q&A: Oh, the Things We're For!
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Innosanto Nagara
Innosanto Nagara
Oh, The Things We're For!

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. In his first book, A Is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara started a movement in social justice picture books. Now, in Oh, the Things We’re For!, Nagara uses catchy rhyming text and bold illustrations to inspire young people to take action for causes they believe in, from the battle for universal healthcare and a living wage to the fight against climate change. Watch Nagara read his book in our on-demand video, and then tune in for this Q&A with Nagara and racial justice educator Tanya Nixon-Silberg. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creator!

Ages 6–9

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American Elections: Is This the Best We Can Do?
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David Daley
David Daley
Unrigged
Katherine M. Gehl
Katherine M. Gehl
The Politics Industry
Alexander Keyssar
Alexander Keyssar
Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?

You know by now that we have major problems with our electoral process. The three authors in this session will tell us how we can fix the system. Our democracy sort of depends on whether we succeed, so pay close attention. David Daley wrote Unrigged as a follow-up to his previous bestselling book, Ratf**ked, about partisan gerrymandering. Here, he talks about the ways in which citizens can, against the odds, change laws about gerrymandering, voting roll purges, voting rights for released felons, and more, using tactics that range from taking to the streets to circulating petitions to running for office. In Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? Alex Keyssar investigates the long history of that strange artifact which has handed the presidency to the loser twice in modern times. Why do we still have it? Probably not for the reasons you think. And finally, Katherine Gehl, co-author with Michael Porter of The Politics Industry, puts forth an original analysis of the political parties as duopolies that stifle competition. She has some simple, actionable ideas for reforming electoral politics.  Can we do better? Yes, we can! Anthony Brooks, senior political advisor at WBUR, 90.9 FM, will host this session. Media sponsor for this session is 90.9 WBUR.

Friday, October 16, 2020

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YA: Speak Your Truths
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Arvin Ahmadi
Arvin Ahmadi
How It All Blew Up
Jennifer De Leon
Jennifer De Leon
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From
Daven McQueen
Daven McQueen
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones

Navigating identity can be a thorny journey, especially when you’re a teenager surrounded by folks who you suspect won’t understand or maybe even welcome you. The authors whose novels we’ll learn about in this session offer road maps in the form of characters bravely speaking the truth about identity—even when it’s scary or dangerous to do so. In How It All Blew Up, Arvin Ahmadi introduces readers to Amir Azadi, a queer Muslim Iranian American teen who hesitates to come out to his family—until a joyous journey of discovering gay culture and community abruptly collides with his old life back home. In her debut novel, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, Daven McQueen follows a biracial teen, Ethan Harper, as he spends the summer of 1955 with relatives in Alabama—and is compelled to address racism, and define his own Black identity, for the first time. And in debut novelist (and past 1C1S author) Jennifer De Leon’s Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Liliana Cruz, the daughter of Central American immigrants, feels pressure to mask her Latina identity when she accepts a spot at a predominantly white suburban Boston high school, compounded when her family faces an immigration crisis. Our host for this session is Rupa Shenoy, a reporter for The World from PRX and host of the PRI podcast Otherhood. GBH is the media sponsor for this session.

Ages 12+

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One City One Story
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Do you believe a picture is worth a thousand words? Marybelle does. She keeps a photo album titled Marybelle's Book of Life and Death, detailing her loved one's first and last breaths, as a way to keep a record of her family while she works abroad for the Chows, moving from the Philippines to Hong Kong to Boston. In this year's One City One Story selection,  "The Book of Life and Death," author Grace Talusan explores themes of belonging, education, family, and migration. Pick up your story at one of our distribution locations (or download a copy from our website). Then join us for a discussion of the story with its author and other readers, facilitated by Alicia Anstead, associate director for programming at Harvard’s Office for the Arts. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

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Weave Me a Wreath of White Roses: 30 Years of Publishing Anna Akhmatova in English
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Anna Akhmatova lived through the devastating upheavals of the twentieth century in Russia, including the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and the terrifying purges and persecutions of Josef Stalin. By the time she died in 1966, she had written close to a thousand poems—at first deeply personal and passionate, later bearing witness to the suffering of her people. Despite her own losses and anguish, she refused to leave the Soviet Union. In 1990, the tiny Boston-based Zephyr Press published The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer and edited and introduced by Roberta Reeder—the first complete collection ever undertaken in either Russian or English. Hemschemeyer had spent thirteen years translating the poems; Zephyr spent seven more preparing the edition for publication. Named one of the “Best Books of 1990” by the New York Times, it was reviewed in some seventy-five publications worldwide. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first edition, Hemschemeyer has selected poems to be read by former Zephyr editor Susan Gubernat (who first brought the manuscript to the press), and Zephyr co-directors Jim Kates and Leora Zeitlin will lead a discussion on Akhmatova’s work and the making of this definitive edition. Sponsored by Zephyr Press.



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Activism, Radicalism, and Resistance in the Black Community
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Vincent Brown
Vincent Brown
Tacky's Revolt
Jelani M. Favors
Jelani M. Favors
Shelter in a Time of Storm
Garrett Felber
Garrett Felber
Those Who Know Don't Say
Kerri K. Greenidge
Kerri K. Greenidge
Black Radical
Kellie Carter Jackson
Kellie Carter Jackson
Force and Freedom

This session, presented in cooperation with the Museum of African American History and highlighting the MAAH Stone Book Award, brings together five notable historians whose work focuses on institutions or individuals who were key in fomenting acts or movements of Black resistance throughout American history. Moderator Kellie Carter Jackson (Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence) will interview Vincent Brown (Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War), Kerri Greenidge (Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter), Garrett Felber (Those Who Know Don't Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State) and 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award winner Jelani M. Favors (Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism). Their riveting historical accounts reveal the many forms of constant, continued resistance by Black Americans against racism and racist policies and practices from the time of enslavement through to the present, the surge of particular black radical movements at unique moments in history, and the wide range and diverse forms of activism cultivated in the Black community— from religious to academic institutions. This session aims to underscore that Black people have always known—and have always fought to make clear—that Black lives matter. Sponsored by the Plymouth Rock Foundation and the Jim and Cathy Stone Foundation.

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Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely
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Andrew S. Curran
Andrew S. Curran
Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

Award-winning historian and professor Andrew S. Curran, author of Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely (out in paperback  from Other Press this October), will discuss the life and work of the Enlightenment philosopher and consummate atheist Denis Diderot. Curran will appear in conversation with Jim Windolf, the media editor of the New York Times. Their discussion aims to offer insight into the ways Diderot’s teachings might be ruminated on in current times and will highlight why this eighteenth-century thinker is more relevant than ever. Sponsored by Other Press.

Monday, October 19, 2020

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Out of This World Storytime: How We Got to the Moon
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John Rocco
John Rocco
How We Got to the Moon

Wrapping up our series of talks with creators of books about outer space is this fun and fascinating exploration of How We Got to the Moon, written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor recipient (and lifelong NASA enthusiast) John Rocco. Rocco’s book, which was just long listed for the National Book Award, takes readers far behind the scenes of the Apollo 11 moon landing, bringing to light the immense but often unsung contributions of the many men and women whose research and expertise helped make this dream a reality. In a conversation with Cathryn Mercier of Simmons University, Rocco will take us behind the scenes as well, giving us a glimpse into his processes for researching and creating this stunning book. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the author!

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

Ages 8–12

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Can Business Save the World?
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Rebecca Henderson
Rebecca Henderson
Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire
Myriam Sidibe
Myriam Sidibe
Brands on a Mission: How to Achieve Social Impact and Business Growth Through Purpose

Some of you may be thinking that unbridled capitalism is what got us into our current mess, and our panelists don’t really disagree. But they also see the power of capitalism as a force to change the world for the better. In Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, Rebecca Henderson, the McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, believes that the restructuring of capitalism, already underway, has the potential to solve the three great problems of our day: environmental degradation, economic inequality, and institutional collapse. Myriam Sidibe is a public health expert who, as Unilever’s first social mission manager, is responsible for leveraging the company’s Lifebuoy soap brand into a vast initiative to save lives by promoting handwashing in Africa and Asia. Her book, Brands on a Mission, presents many case studies to bolster her argument for using purpose-led marketing to invigorate sales while also promoting healthy habits and positive norms around behavior. Our host for this timely discussion is Mark Kramer, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and co-founder of FSG, a social impact consulting firm that works toward social progress and racial equity around the world.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Illustrator Draw-Off
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Jeffrey Brown
Jeffrey Brown
Once Upon a Space-Time!
Sophie Escabasse
Sophie Escabasse
Witches of Brooklyn
Liz Pichon
Liz Pichon
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

You might think that illustrating (and in some cases also writing) an entertaining graphic novel for kids is enough of a challenge, but the four talented artists we’ve gathered here have no idea what kinds of challenges we’ve got in store! Host Cagen Luse of Comics in Color will guide our contestants—Jeffrey Brown (Once Upon a Space-Time!), Sophie Escabasse (Witches of Brooklyn), Liz Pichon (the Tom Gates series), and Shannon Wright (Twins)—through a series of zany timed drawing challenges. A hamster doing extreme sports? An over-the-top ice cream sundae? A baby out for revenge? Who knows what they’ll be asked to draw next! Send us your ideas for drawing prompts via Twitter @bostonbookfest or via email at inf[email protected]. Tune in live to see if your prompt gets picked and to watch the hilarity unfold—and you, the audience, will be the judge of who wins each round and is crowned the victor! This session is sponsored by Candlewick Press and co-presented with Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, taking place virtually from October 3–25.

All ages

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Black Voices, Black Voters
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Tiffany D. Cross
Tiffany D. Cross
Say It Loud
Chryl N. Laird
Chryl N. Laird
Steadfast Democrats
Leah Wright Rigueur
Leah Wright Rigueur
The Loneliness of the Black Republican

At the same time that racism is being used as a call to action by Republicans, Black voters are poised to be the determining voter block in 2020.  On-air political analyst and founder of The Beat, Tiffany Cross examines how the political system has excluded Black voters and how the media has been complicit in her "lively memoir and polemic," Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy.  Bowdoin professor of government Chryl Laird, co-author of Steadfast Democrats, argues that Black voters are uniquely influenced by the social expectations of other Black Americans to prioritize the struggle for equality. Laird’s work explores how Black political norms are enforced and what it means for the future of Black politics. In her award-winning book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican, Leah Wright Rigueur, the Harry Truman Professor of American History at Brandeis University, adds fascinating texture to the discussion with her study of conservative Black activists who fought to influence Republican policy. This discussion, led by Callie Crossley, host of Under the Radar on GBH Radio, is essential pre-election viewing. Sponsored by the Wagner Foundation, with media sponsorship by GBH.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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Story Time: My Hair Is Magic
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Tonya Engel
Tonya Engel
My Hair Is Magic!
M. L. Marroquin
M. L. Marroquin
My Hair Is Magic!

If you’ve ever felt sometimes like your hair has a personality all its own, you’ll want to meet the feisty little girl at the center of ML Marroquin’s debut picture book My Hair Is Magic, who confidently celebrates her glorious hair, “big like clouds, SO beautiful it draws a crowd.” Artist Tonya Engel brings this magical hair to life in full color, using collage and acrylic and oil paints to create hair that transforms into a musical symphony, a ferocious bear, or ocean waves. Marroquin and Engel will read from their book and offer insights into its creation. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creators! Donations received in connection with this event will go to support the Boston Globe's Globe Santa program.

Ages 4–8

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Love and Technology
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Merle J. Berger
Merle J. Berger
Conception: A Fertility Doctor's Memoir
Debora L. Spar
Debora L. Spar
Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny

This session will challenge your assumptions about how we meet, marry, love, and reproduce. Debora L. Spar, in Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny, surveys human history and concludes that the decisions we make about our intimate lives are driven, and always have been driven, by technology. These days, it’s assisted reproduction, robotics, and artificial intelligence that will be guiding our personal choices. Dr. Merle Berger, a pioneer in reproductive technologies like IVF, describes, in Conception: A Fertility Doctor’s Memoir, the rapid development of those technologies, the decoupling of sex from reproduction, and the ethical conundrums we will continue to face in the future. This fascinating session will be hosted by Carey Goldberg, WBUR’s host of CommonHealth and author of Three Wishes: A True Story Of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak and Astonishing Luck On Our Way To Love and Motherhood. Media sponsorship by WBUR 90.9 FM.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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YA: Friendship and Its End
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Justin A. Reynolds
Justin A. Reynolds
Early Departures
Amy Spalding
Amy Spalding
We Used to Be Friends
Ashley Woodfolk
Ashley Woodfolk
When You Were Everything

There’s something to be said for romance, to be sure, but often the relationships that sustain us the most are the ones with our friends—and the heartbreak we feel at a friendship’s ending is every bit as devastating as any romantic breakup. The outcome of Amy Spalding’s We Used to Be Friends might not be a surprise—it’s right there in the title—but Spalding uses surprising narrative structure to trace the evolution of the relationship between two (former) best friends, with one girl’s story moving forward in time and the other’s backward over the course of their tumultuous senior year of high school. In When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk also uses creative narrative chronology—alternating between Then and Now—to construct a story of painful endings, new beginnings, and the perspective earned by the passage of time. And in a story that incorporates fantasy and reality, Justin A. Reynolds's Early Departures finds a young man, Jamal, using a new technology to bring his former best friend temporarily back to life following an accident—to make amends and say a final goodbye. Make plans to join your friends for this bittersweet session about teen friendships, hosted by Cathryn Mercier of Simmons University.

This session will also be broadcast live on Boston Neighborhood Network Media television stations.

Ages 13+

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Irresistible Revolution: A Conversation on Poetry and Community
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Alondra Bobadilla
Alondra Bobadilla
Boston Youth Poet Laureate
Porsha Olayiwola
Porsha Olayiwola
i shimmer sometimes, too

Poet and writer Toni Cade Bambara states “the job of the poet is to make the revolution irresistible.” Join a reading and conversation between Boston poet laureate, Porsha Olayiwola, and Boston’s inaugural youth poet laureate, Alondra Bobadilla, as they weigh in on the role of the modern poet in shaping their communities. Poets will read from their forthcoming manuscripts and discuss the relationship between craft and civic engagement. This conversation will be moderated by poet Janae Johnson. Sponsored by Mass Poetry and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.

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Reading Like a Writer: Perspective
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Rishi Reddi
Rishi Reddi
Passage West
Margot Livesey
Margot Livesey
The Boy in the Field

This session is dedicated to the memory of author Randall Kenan. For the past several years, the BBF’s “Reading LIke a Writer” series of craft-focused author discussions have become fan favorites, giving attendees an opportunity to dig deep and gain insights into the choices that shape a writer’s craft. In this session, host Dawn Tripp will guide us through close readings of excerpts from the work of three authors whose new fiction presents a variety of narrative perspectives. In Passage West, novelist (and past One City One Story author) Rishi Reddi uses a variety of storytelling techniques, including letters, to trace the epic yet intimate story of a family of Indian sharecroppers in California’s agricultural valleys in the early twentieth century. In The Boy in the Field, Margot Livesey alternates among the perspectives of three teenaged siblings as they variously navigate the months following their discovery of a battered and bloody boy near their home. These authors will provide context for their own excerpts and will interact with one another’s work as well. Livesey was also a friend and colleague of Randall Kenan, who had been scheduled to participate in this session prior to his untimely death in late August. Livesey will offer her own appreciation of Kenan and will participate in a discussion and analysis of an excerpt from Kenan’s final collection of stories, If I Had Two Wings. Register for this session in advance on Crowdcast to access the authors’ excerpts and to add your own questions and observations to the conversation.

Friday, October 23, 2020

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Story Time: Julián at the Wedding
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Jessica Love
Jessica Love
Julián at the Wedding

Jessica Love’s beautiful picture book Julián Is a Mermaid won a 2019 Stonewall Book Award—and this affirming story about a genderqueer child and his loving Abuela won plenty of fans as well! Readers will rejoice to re-encounter these beloved characters and meet a new friend as well in Julian at the Wedding. Love will read from her book and offer insights into its creation in a conversation with Rebecca Fox of the Boston Public Library. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the book’s creator!

This video will only be available until October 30, 2020.

Ages 4–8

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Fiction at the End of the World
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As the climate crisis intensifies, none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines, novelists included. Fortunately, two of our most gifted and insightful novelists have turned their considerable talents toward addressing the terrors of a climate-devastated future that’s all too near. In Weather, Jenny Offill employs her signature fractured narrative style to tell the story of a woman juggling her various identities—as a writer, a mother, a former academic, a librarian—and handling the mundane tasks of daily life while becoming increasingly preoccupied with its apocalyptic end. And in A Children’s Bible, which Ron Charles has called “a blistering little classic,” Lydia Millet starkly dramatizes the generational divide around climate change in a novel that finds a group of children and teenagers taking action, Noah’s Ark–style, while their clueless parents descend into torpor and debauchery. Leading their timely and thoughtful conversation is novelist Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne, author of Holding on to Nothing. Sponsored by Lesley University.

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Architecture Keynote
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Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy
Justice Is Beauty

Founder and principal of MASS Design Group, Michael Murphy, writes in the introduction to the firm’s beautiful monograph, Justice is Beauty, that “architecture is not agnostic about ethics.” While Murphy was still a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he was hired by Paul Farmer to design a hospital in Rwanda. MASS has gone on to design many hospitals and schools in Africa and Haiti, and their partnership with artist Hank Willis Thomas produced the winning entrant for Boston’s MLK Memorial. Murphy may be best known, however, for working with Bryan Stevenson to design the enormously moving and monumental National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. He and his partners at MASS, which stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society, believe that good design is not solely for the wealthy—that the search for beauty is the search for justice. Join Jared Bowen, host of Open Studio on GBH, for an inspiring conversation with Michael Murphy. This session is sponsored by Ann and Graham Gund, with media sponsorship by GBH.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

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Fiction: Timeless Tales
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Andrea Hairston
Andrea Hairston
Master of Poisons
S.L. Huang
S.L. Huang
Burning Roses
Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire
A Wild Winter Swan

Whether they are the bedtime stories we grew up with or retellings we discover as adults, folk and fairy tales from various traditions offer enduring motifs, genuine wisdom—and plenty of juicy material for talented novelists to riff on. In this session, we’ll talk with three novelists whose latest work draws directly or indirectly from these timeless tales. In Master of Poisons, Andrea Hairston combines the lyrical patterns and rhythms of African folkloric traditions with the sensibilities of postcolonial literatures to build a complex epic fantasy that Kirkus Reviews calls “a mind-expanding must-read” in a starred review. Wicked author Gregory Maguire sets  Wild Winter Swan, his latest fairy tale adaptation (based on Anderson’s “The Wild Swans”) in 1960s New York City, in an elegant reimagining that takes on issues of class and culture. And SL Huang remixes European and Asian fairy tale traditions in her new novella, Burning Roses, which finds Rosa (aka Little Red Riding Hood) reluctantly joining forces with the mythological Chinese archer Hou Yi for an epic quest. Lauren Rizzuto will host this delightful conversation about tales old and new. Sponsored by Greenough Brand Storytellers.

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Fiction: Don't Look Behind You
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Stephen Chbosky
Stephen Chbosky
Imaginary Friend
Joe Hill
Joe Hill
Full Throttle
Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay
Survivor Song
Jen Waite
Jen Waite
Survival Instincts

For some of us—trapped in our homes while an unseen threat lurks outside—2020 has felt a bit like a horror story already. But as Halloween and the long nights of late fall and winter approach, perhaps the fiction writers in this session can provide some appropriately spooky fare to distract us from our real-world terrors. Readers may recognize Stephen Chbosky’s name from his cult classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now, in Imaginary Friend, Chbosky brings readers an haunting story of literary horror, as a mother flees an abusive relationship and resettles with her young son in a small town—where malevolent forces lurk everywhere. Jen Waite’s new thriller, Survival Instincts, also centers on a survivor of domestic abuse, whose weekend White Mountains getaway with her mother and preteen daughter goes horrifically wrong when they encounter an armed stranger. Joe Hill takes on short-form supernatural horror in Full Throttle, whose thirteen stories (including two co-written with his father, Stephen King) have been called “miniature masterworks of modern horror” by Kirkus in a starred review. And in Survivor Song, a novel that might seem all-too-relevant in 2020, Paul Tremblay imagines a terrifying epidemic of a rabies-like virus—and a woman determined to obtain a vaccine for her best friend before it’s too late. Marcella Haddad, who teaches GrubStreet courses on writing horror fiction, will bravely lead our foray into the literary darkness.

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Public Affairs Keynote
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Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas D. Kristof
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
Sheryl WuDunn
Sheryl WuDunn
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and journalist Sheryl WuDunn sought out stories of the so-called personal failures of the working poor. Most of the stories are from Kristof’s hometown in rural Oregon, where one in four of his peers have died from substance abuse, suicide, accidents, or treatable medical issues. The resulting book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, is a companion piece to the works of Michael Sandel and Pete Buttigieg. It speaks of the self-hatred of those who tried but failed to keep afloat and who have bought into the lie perpetrated by elites that failure is their fault and not the fault of a system that is stacked against them. Kristof and WuDunn highlight programs that help and that could potentially scale. As they point out, this is no longer an issue of Republicans or Democrats. It’s all of us. Arun Rath, host of GBH’s All Things Considered, will lead the discussion.  

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How I Built This
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Guy Raz has interviewed dozens of successful entrepreneurs on his enormously popular radio show, How I Built This. In his new book, How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Raz distills the lessons learned from his probing and infectiously energetic and enthusiastic interviews. Guy Raz likens the path of the entrepreneur to the hero’s journey—setting off from relative safety into the unknown to meet both daunting challenges and essential helpers along the way to fulfilling the journey’s goal. From Allbirds to Stacy’s Pita Chips to Warby Parker, Raz explores each entrepreneur’s varied and winding path. Join Guy Raz and the Boston Globe’s Managing Director, Linda Pizzuti Henry, for a fascinating conversation about How I Built This. The media sponsor of this session is the Boston Globe.

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Lit Crawl Global: Feel It, Speak It
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In 2020, many Lit Crawls worldwide were cancelled due to COVID-19, so Lit Crawl Global decided to gather everyone for one big virtual literary hoedown. We're pleased to join our literary colleagues in Kells (Ireland), Cheltenham (England), Angers (France), Wellington (New Zealand), Los Angeles, and Seattle for this event, broadcast from Manny's, in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District.

Lit Crawl Boston's entry features D. Ruff, Tim Hall, and producer Seoul Music. D. Ruff represents Team Be Spoken, core members of the long-running "Feel It, Speak It" open mic—a collective of spoken word artists, community activists, and individuals who are determined to change the world one talent at a time. He is the author of "Staying on 94: Tales from a Misguided Soul" and the creative director of the Boston Pulse Poetry program. Tim Hall is a musician and performance poet from Detroit now residing in Boston. His poetry charts the nuances of blackness, masculinity, and the beauties of life. An Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, he was twice nominated for Session Musician of the Year by the Boston Music Awards and was honored by WBUR's ARTery as one of 25 millennials of color impacting arts and culture in Boston. Hip-hop producer Seoul Music is one-half of Rush Hour, a production duo with fellow Boston-bred producer Bizz. The team earned first place in Boston for iStandard Beast of the Beats, a worldwide producing competition. 

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Poems & Pints
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George Abraham
George Abraham
Birthright
Diannely Antigua
Diannely Antigua
Ugly Music
Kay Ulanday Barrett
Kay Ulanday Barrett
More Than Organs
Franny Choi
Franny Choi
Soft Science
Krysten Hill
Krysten Hill
How Her Spirit Got Out

Our annual Saturday evening celebration of poetry might by BYOB this year, but it still promises to be the literary gathering of the weekend, as we bring together a talented group of poets to share their latest work in a casual, free-flowing setting, capably emceed by poet Krysten Hill (How Her Spirit Got Out), who will share some of her own work as well. Poets George Abraham (Birthright), Diannely Antigua (Ugly Music), Kay Ulanday Barrett (More Than Organs), and Franny Choi (Soft Science) will read from their latest collections and answer your questions as well. Join us and the co-sponsors of this event, Mass Poetry, to raise a glass or two with other poetry lovers at what’s become a BBF Saturday tradition.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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Jerry Craft: Class Act
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Jerry Craft stormed the children’s literature scene in a big way in 2019 with New Kid, which won the 2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Kirkus Prize and also became the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal. Now Craft is back with a companion novel, Class Act, about trying to build and maintain friendships while coping with being one of the few kids of color at a prestigious private school. In its starred review, Kirkus calls Class Act “a well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times.” We are pleased to welcome Jerry Craft as a headlining presenter at this year’s BBF and as a special guest at Boston English High School as part of our Shelf Help partnership. In this session, Craft will introduce attendees to the characters and environment he’s created, offer a glimpse at his creative process, and chat with literacy organizer Kim Parker. Tune in live for your chance to ask questions and interact with the author! Sponsored by Simmons University. Donations received in conjunction with this session will support the library collection at Boston English HS.

Ages 9+

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Fiction: Witches and Other Bad Heroines
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Quan Barry
Quan Barry
We Ride Upon Sticks
Emily M. Danforth
Emily M. Danforth
Plain Bad Heroines
Layne Fargo
Layne Fargo
They Never Learn
Alix E. Harrow
Alix E. Harrow
The Once and Future Witches

In this can’t-miss fiction session, we’ll meet indelible characters, young women whose ambition, desires, or thirst for revenge lead them outside society’s norms—which is just fine with them. In Alix E. Harrow’s historical fantasy The Once and Future Witches, the four Eastwood sisters rediscover the lost art of witchcraft in 1893 and aim to turn the nascent suffragist movement in New Salem into a witches’ movement. Witches also populate the pages of Quan Barry’s We Ride Upon Sticks—in this case, the “sticks” of the title aren't brooms but field hockey sticks, as the Danvers girls’ field hockey team makes a dark bargain to ensure a winning season. Emily M. Danforth (author of YA favorite The Miseducation of Cameron Post) makes her adult fiction debut with Plain Bad Heroines, an expansive ghost story of sorts, about a shuttered girls’ school and the century-old lesbian memoir that supposedly cursed it. Layne Fargo’s thriller They Never Learn also has an academic setting, profiling both a female professor/serial killer and a pair of first-year college students on a quest for revenge. Bridget Marshall of UMass–Lowell will host this lively hour devoted to fearlessly feminist fiction.

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The Internet of Stings: How Silicon Valley is Making Us Miserable
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Dipayan Ghosh
Dipayan Ghosh
Terms of Disservice: How Silicon Valley Is Destructive by Design
Ben Tarnoff
Ben Tarnoff
Voices from the Valley: Tech Workers Talk About What They Do--and How They Do It (FSG Originals x Logic)
Moira Weigel
Moira Weigel
Voices from the Valley: Tech Workers Talk About What They Do--and How They Do It (FSG Originals x Logic)

Are you troubled by what you read about surveillance capitalism, malign conspiracies on Facebook, and the obviously addictive quality of our devices?  Dipayan Ghosh, a computer scientist turned policymaker whose work in the Obama White House and at Facebook informs his views, believes that the internet is no longer the space of individual freedom that it was in the beginning. Today, the internet is a corporatized structure that conducts uninhibited surveillance to generate profit. And the same algorithmic curation utilized to sell us products is also being used to radicalize individuals to extreme political views. His book, Terms of Disservice: How Silicon Valley is Destructive by Design, proposes a regulatory scheme to safeguard individual privacy and ensure that the internet works for society at large, and not just Silicon Valley. Speaking of Silicon Valley, have you ever thought about the workers who make it all possible? In Voices from the Valley, Ben Tarnoff and Moira Weigel sit down with workers at all levels of Silicon Valley tech companies to learn what life is like when you work in tech. This session will be in the capable hands of Meghna Chakrabarti, host and editor of WBUR’s On Point. The media sponsor of this session is 90.9 WBUR.

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Homeland Elegies
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Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar
Homeland Elegies

Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013—and also attracted a great deal of controversy, when its main character, a Pakistani American, admits to feeling a “blush of pride” in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. In Homeland Elegies, his new work of autofiction, Akhtar returns to this theme, among many others, in the context of a powerful and poignant consideration of what it means to be Muslim in America today. Akhtar frames much of the novel through the relationship between himself and his Pakistani immigrant father, a doctor who once treated Trump in the 1990s and has embraced Trump's version of America ever since, following a trajectory from farce to pathos. The son, born on Staten Island, traces his often complicated personal, philosophical, and political stance toward an America that he regards as home but that insists on viewing him—and often compelling him to see himself—as Other. Akhtar’s novel opens with an “overture” and ends with a “coda” that circles back to ideals of free speech, campus culture, and that controversial moment in Disgraced, so it’s fitting that at this closing session for BBF 2020, he’ll be interviewed by PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, whose own new book Dare to Speak champions free expression and vigorous, democratic debate. Sponsored by the Landry Family Foundation.

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At Home Boston Exhibit at Downtown Crossing: Real Stories of the Pandemic and Protests

As the lockdown began in March, the BBF, in collaboration with the Boston Globe, launched a community writing initiative called At Home Boston to collect real stories from residents across the city. This moving exhibit features ten of our most celebrated stories from over 350 collected for the At Home project. Taking on themes from racial justice to reconnection, the stories weave together slices of life from frontline workers, teachers, friends, grandparents, and even classroom pets during these unprecedented times. From October 3–25, enjoy this free outdoor exhibit that includes a piece by well-known local author and Emerson professor Jabari Asim.

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Downtown Crossing Story Walk

Head out to the lively shopping district of Downtown Crossing for a free, fun story walk for the whole family. Kids can collect maps from volunteers in the area and read Oge Mora’s Saturday, which will be displayed page by page on storefronts in the district. Families will enjoy this heartwarming story about a mother-daughter outing in the city with lots of ups and downs but with a reminder of the importance of just spending time together. There will be activities to complete along the way (including giveaways from JP Licks!). The story walk will run from October 3–25.

For more information and maps, visit the Story Walks page on our website.

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Memoir: Extraordinary Beginnings [pre-recorded]
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Mikel Jollett
Mikel Jollett
Hollywood Park
Megan Margulies
Megan Margulies
My Captain America
Honor Moore
Honor Moore
Our Revolution

These three authors were launched from situations and families that were out of the ordinary. Poet, playwright, and memoirist Honor Moore, after having written a memoir about her extraordinary father, turns to examining her relationship with her mother in Our Revolution. This mother of nine lived among the poor with Moore’s father, the Archbishop of New York, was a published author and playwright, and died young of cancer while racing to finish a memoir. In My Captain America, Megan Margulies writes lovingly about her close and formative relationship with her grandfather, the man who created the superhero comic Captain America. And Mikel Jollett, frontman for the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, describes in Hollywood Park a harrowing childhood in a cult where he barely knew his parents until the day his mother arrived to rescue him and his brother. Richard Hoffman, author of the poetry collection Noon Until Night and the memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury, hosts this session.

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Memoir: Intellectual Histories [pre-recorded]
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Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner
A Synthesizing Mind
Rana el Kaliouby
Rana el Kaliouby
Girl Decoded
Claire Messud
Claire Messud
Kant's Little Prussian Head

A novelist and essayist, a computer scientist, and a scholar of human development discuss their lives and intellectual development. Claire Messud is the beloved author of many works of fiction and criticism. In Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, she examines her lived life and her literary life--which are bound together inextricably. Rana El Kaliouby talks about her personal journey and her efforts to humanize artificial intelligence by teaching machines to measure and interpret human emotions in Girl Decoded. And finally, the great Howard Gardner, originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, discusses his intellectual development in A Synthesizing Mind. Darrin McMahon, author of Divine Fury: A History of Genius, is the apt and able host of this revelatory session.

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Memoir: Race and Identity [pre-recorded]
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Issac J. Bailey
Issac J. Bailey
Why Didn't We Riot?
E. Dolores Johnson
E. Dolores Johnson
Say I'm Dead
Sejal Shah
Sejal Shah
This Is One Way to Dance

This session explores how race, or more specifically how being nonwhite in America, has formed the identities and lives of our three memoirists. Sejal Shah, in her meditative memoir in essays, This Is One Way to Dance, explores how we are all marked by culture, language, family, and place. In her moving memoir, Say I’m Dead, E. Dolores Johnson tells the astonishing story of her black father and white mother’s flight from Indiana’s antimiscegenation laws to Buffalo, where they married in the 1940s and raised her and her siblings. Journalist Issac Bailey, author of My Brother Moochie and Why Didn’t We Riot? calls out the myth that whites where he lives, in Trumpland, support Trump because of economic distress rather than racism. Listen in to this powerful and timely set of conversations, hosted by Paris Alston, producer for Radio Boston at WBUR.  

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Memoir: Secrets, Lies, and the Mysteries of Our Youth [pre-recorded]
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Betsy Bonner
Betsy Bonner
The Book of Atlantis Black
Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn
This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire
Helen Fremont
Helen Fremont
The Escape Artist

Secrets: almost every family has them. The three memoirists in this audio session will talk about the secrets and mysteries that haunt their lives. Helen Fremont, in The Escape Artist, explores the psychological fallout stemming from her parents’ refusal to acknowledge that they were survivors of the Holocaust. In The Book of Atlantis Black, poet Betsy Bonner delves into the mysterious and troubling facts surrounding her sister’s death in a blend of memoir and literary true crime. And poet and memoirist Nick Flynn skillfully and lyrically blends the secrets and mysteries of his early life with his own secrets in This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire. Journalist, writer, and founder of TheEditorial.com, Heidi Legg, delves into the truth of these memoirists’ stories about secrets, lies, and mysteries. Listen to the end for a special offer from the BBF and W.W. Norton!

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Nubian Square Story Walk

Head out to Roxbury’s Nubian Square for a free, fun story walk for the whole family. Kids can collect maps from the Frugal Bookstore and stroll the square’s storefronts reading Kwame Alexander’s The Undefeated, a “love letter to black life in the United States,” with powerful illustrations by Kadir Nelson. The Undefeated won the 2020 Caldecott Medal and was the winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. There will be activities to complete along the way (including giveaways from JP Licks!), and the first 50 children to complete the walk will receive a free copy of The Undefeated. The story walk will run from October 3–25.

For more information and maps, visit the Story Walks page on our website.

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Storytime: A Place Inside of Me [pre-recorded]
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Zetta Elliott
Zetta Elliott
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. Poet Zetta Elliott has written books for all ages; in her last, she transforms a lyrical poem into a powerful picture book with dynamic artwork by Noa Denmon, tracing the evolving emotions of a young Black child over the course of a year as his community rebounds from a police shooting. Watch Elliott read her book in this on-demand video, and then tune in on October 13 for a live Q&A with Elliott, Denmon, and author and racial justice educator Francie Latour.

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Storytime: Everything Naomi Loved [pre-recorded]
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Katie Yamasaki
Katie Yamasaki
Everything Naomi Loved

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. In her new picture book, muralist Katie Yamasaki writes about a young girl who loves her vibrant city block (“It wasn’t pretty but it was alive!”) and mourns its rapid change into a place she no longer recognizes. Everything Naomi Loved offers a concrete, child-centered portrait of gentrification and, as Publishers Weekly notes in a starred review, “champions the power of ordinary people to preserve what’s lost through art.” Watch Yamasaki read her book in this on-demand video, and then tune in on October 9 for a live Q&A with author and racial justice educator Francie Latour.

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Storytime: I am Brown [pre-recorded]
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Ashok Banker
Ashok Banker
I Am Brown
Sandhya Prabhat
Sandhya Prabhat
I Am Brown

Author Ashok Banker and artist Sandhya Prabhat have teamed up on the picture book I Am Brown, an exuberant celebration of the skin you’re in! “ I am brown / I am perfect” declares a child in the book’s opening pages, and she and a chorus of other voices join to share how they play, what they wear, where they pray, and what kind of grownups they aspire to become. Prabhat’s cheerful, colorful illustrations echo Banker’s joyful prose to create a radiant affirmation that will speak to all children. Watch Prabhat introduce readers to their book in this on-demand video and get a behind-the-scenes look at its creation!

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Storytime: Juana Medina [pre-recorded]
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Juana Medina
Juana Medina
Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas

Author and illustrator Juana Medina has written many beloved picture books as well as two early chapter books featuring a young Colombian child, Juana, and her furry amigo Lucas. We are pleased to welcome Juana Medina as a headlining presenter at this year’s BBF and as a special guest at the Rafael Hernández two-way bilingual school as part of our Shelf Help partnership. In this session, Medina will introduce attendees to her characters and read a chapter from her latest book. Donations received in conjunction with this session will support the library collection at the Rafael Hernández School.

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Storytime: Oh, the Things We're For! [pre-recorded]
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Innosanto Nagara
Innosanto Nagara
Oh, The Things We're For!

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. In his first book, A Is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara started a movement in social justice picture books. Now, in Oh, the Things We’re For!, Nagara uses catchy rhyming text and bold illustrations to inspire young people to take action for causes they believe in, from the battle for universal healthcare and a living wage to the fight against climate change. Watch Nagara read his book in this on-demand video, and then tune in on October 15 for a live Q&A with Nagara and racial justice educator Tanya Nixon-Silberg. 

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Storytime: Okapi Tale [pre-recorded]
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Jacob Kramer
Jacob Kramer
Okapi Tale
K-Fai Steele
K-Fai Steele
Okapi Tale

Picture books offer some of the best openings for family discussions of social justice issues, so this year, we’re pleased to offer several conversations with the creators of new picture books that tackle timely themes in terms that will resonate with all members of the family. Writer Jacob Kramer and artist K-Fai Steele's new book Okapi Tale is a companion to their earlier book Noodlephant. This time, the animal inhabitants of Beaston take on capitalism and privatization with cooperation and creativity! Watch Kramer and Steele read their book in this on-demand video, and then tune in on October 8 for a live Q&A with author and racial justice educator Francie Latour.