BBF 2020: Your First Glimpse at the Lineup

This year, we’re trying something a little different with our lineup announcements—because why not? We’ll be rolling out our lineup gradually through the rest of the summer, along with blog posts, features, and more information about the dozens of creative authors and illustrators who will be joining us online this October.

Reading Like a Writer

One of our most popular formats for fiction programming over the past several years has been a series of sessions we call Reading Like a Writer. In these sessions, writers really open up about the nuts and bolts of their craft. Our host for each session will encourage co-panelists to comment on particular elements of a very short excerpt from each other’s work (these excerpts will also be shared with attendees who register before the event). Each author will also have the opportunity to contextualize the excerpt, discuss their writerly choices, and answer questions from the audience. A unique alternative to traditional readings, these sessions will appeal not only to aspiring fiction writers but also to all readers looking to enrich their reading experience. This year’s Reading Like a Writer sessions include some exciting newcomers to the BBF lineup: award-winning novelist, critic, and short story writer Randall Kenan and debut novelist David Heska Wanbli Weiden, whose new literary thriller, Winter Counts, is among the most anticipated books of the year. We’re also thrilled to welcome back beloved BBF presenters Margot Livesey (The Boy in the Field) and Gish Jen (The Resisters) to participate in Reading Like a Writer this year. Finally, we have not one, but two former One City One Story authors in our Reading Like a Writer series—this time for their novels! We can’t wait to catch up with Anna Solomon (The Book of V.) and Rishi Reddi (Passage West).

Updated 8/26: Unfortunately Gish Jen has had to cancel her BBF 2020 appearance. We’re thrilled that debut novelist Asha Lemmie (Fifty Words for Rain) will join in her place.

Check out our presenters page for more information about these talented fiction writers and to find links to buy their books. And in the meantime, check out our audio recordings of these relevant sessions from years past:

BBF 2019: Reading Like a Writer: Perspective

BBF 2018: Reading Like a Writer: Character

BBF 2012: One City One Story: Anna Solomon’s “The Lobster Mafia Story”

Social Justice and Activism

These topics are relevant every year, and have only grown more urgent in 2020. This year, we’re presenting several authors whose books for adults relate to activism, specifically, transforming a desire for change into real action. Katherine M. Gehl is a business leader who has turned her expertise to political innovation in The Politics Industry. DeRay Mckesson is an activist and educator who turned his work at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests in Ferguson and Baltimore into a framework for a new liberation movement in On the Other Side of Freedom. In Why We Act, Catherine Sanderson explores what it takes to transform people from bystanders to activists against injustice. And, in Politics Is for Power, Eitan Hersh of Tufts University urges readers to get off the political sidelines and become engaged in advocacy and activism.

We’re especially pleased to present a series of short programs for children and families that also explore themes of activism and social justice. These sessions will include author Jacob Kramer and illustrator K-Fai Steele for their picture book Okapi Tale, a story about politics, power, privatization . . . and pasta. Innosanto Nagara, author/illustrator of the beloved A Is for Activist, presents his motivational new picture book Oh, The Things We’re For! Renowned muralist Katie Yamasaki brings us Everything Naomi Loved, an ode to changing cities. And poet Zetta Elliott and illustrator Noa Denmon team up for A Place Inside of Me, which traces a journey from anger to healing in the wake of a police shooting.

Check out our presenters page for more information about these inspiring creators and to find links to buy their books. And in the meantime, check out these relevant sessions from years past:

BBF 2015: Racial Justice and Community Activism in the Age of Black Lives Matter

BBF 2018: Youth Activism

BBF 2020 Spring Authors Series: Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter

One City One Story

Finally, as we announced last week, we’re thrilled to welcome Grace Talusan as this year’s One City One Story author and to include her in our BBF 2020 lineup.

Stay tuned, and check back often on our presenters page  for more announcements and updates!

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