Bay Area Book Festival announces 2016 schedule

Bay Area Book Festival 2015. Photo: Richard Friedman
The inaugural Bay Area Book Festival last year filled the streets of downtown Berkeley. Photo: Richard Friedman

If you were one of the tens of thousands to attend the first Bay Area Book Festival in downtown Berkeley last June, you’re certainly looking forward to the second edition, June 4-5. If you missed it, don’t make that mistake this year. Nearly 300 authors will be speaking, performing, reading, signing and mingling at the free festival which takes over dozens of downtown venues.

The festival schedule, with nearly 100 sessions, is now online.

There are several new features in the festival. Culture Ireland is funding a special Tribute to Ireland one year after the tragic balcony collapse. Novelist Colm Tóibín (Nora Webster, The Master, Brooklyn) will be in conversation with UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on the Sunday morning of the festival. On Thursday, June 2, two days before the full-blown festival, spoken word artist Saul Williams will be performing at the Freight & Salvage, together with jazz musicians Black Spirituals and poet Chinaka Hodge (the Williams evening costs $18; the main festival is free). 

On Saturday, June 4, Shipwreck presents an evening of “erotic fanfiction based on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” This special event (also ticketed) is clearly not for children. At the new BAMPFA, a special film series will feature movies with literary themes, including “The Age of Czeslaw Milosz,” “Nelson Algren Live,” “Welcome to This House, a film on Elizabeth Bishop,” and “O Amor Natural,” a documentary on the erotic poetry of Brazil’s Carlos Drummond.


Festival founder and director Cherilyn Parsons said that “major effort” has gone into expanding and improving the children’s program, with distinct programs for ages 0-7, ages 8-12 and teen readers.

The popular book art installation Lacuna, with thousands of free books, will again be the centerpiece in Civic Center Park.

One major logistical change this year is that only 50% of the capacity of the venues will be ticketed ($5 per session) to guarantee a seat. Parsons said that standbys are “likelier to get in this year” because 80% of venue capacity was ticketed last year.

Berkeleyside is a sponsor of the Bay Area Book Festival.

Want to know what else is going on in Berkeley and nearby? Visit Berkeleyside’s new-look Events Calendar. Submit your own events for free if they aren’t there already — and give them featured status for as little as $10 a day.