Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

Headliners

Sunday, October 4, 2020

- EDT
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

- EDT
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.

Friday, October 9, 2020

- EDT
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!)

Friday, October 16, 2020

- EDT
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. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

- EDT
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

- EDT
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.  

- EDT
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.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

- EDT
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+

- EDT
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.