In its third year, Bay Area Book Festival to focus on ‘literary activism’

Along with over 100 literary sessions, the Bay Area Book Festival, on June 3-4, will also feature a street fair, also in downtown Berkeley, with 200 literary-themed exhibitors. Photo: BABF

The Bay Area Book Festival returns to Berkeley on June 3-4 and this year the spotlight will be on “literary activism.” Over 200 local, national, and international authors and speakers are scheduled to appear in venues across downtown Berkeley and, with a nod to the current political climate, the program emphasizes writers and books that promote social justice, sanctuary, inclusion, freedom of expression, and environmental sustainability.

“There is no better place than Berkeley, renowned for its intellectual activism, for an event that highlights literature as a vehicle for social change,”  the festival’s founder and executive director, Cherilyn Parsons,​ said in a statement. “Great literature is not didactic, but it is inherently activist. … Whether non-fiction, fiction, or poetry, literature allows remarkable access into the subtle lived experience and perspectives of other people and cultures.”

Sessions at the festival include bestselling author Roxane Gay​ interviewed by Rafia Zakaria; Walter Mosley​ and Joan Walsh​ discussing “race and resistance;” Micah White​, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, and former Bernie Sanders advisor Becky Bond​ in conversation with Mother Jones’ CEO Monika Bauerlein​; activist Cleve Jones​, profiled in the TV mini-series “When We Rise”; and commentator Masha Gessen on “truth, lies, and totalitarianism” in Russia and the United States.

Kids will be well catered for at the Bay Area Book Festival — its Family Fest Zone will offer activities and events for families and children of all ages. Photo: BABF

Also on the slate: Pulitzer Prize winners T.J.  Stiles and Michael Chabon​, Ayelet Waldman​, Rachel Kushner​, Jeff Chang​, Geoff Dyer and Cory Doctorow​, among many others.


This year, 25 writers are coming to the festival from 13 countries outside the U.S. They include Uganda’s Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi​, Korea’s Krys Lee​, Norway’s Per Petterson​, Ireland’s Colin Barrett​, and Iceland’s Oddny Eir​.

For the second year, the festival is partnering with BAMPFA to present “Auteur, Author: Film & Literature,” a series of films that celebrate writers and the act of literary creation, or that masterfully reinterpret literary work. Writers and filmmakers will introduce the screenings.

The Bay Area Book Festival takes place across multiple venues in downtown Berkeley on June 3-4, 2017. Photo: BABF

The festival also features a street fair with 200 literary-themed exhibitors (including a Berkeleyside Uncharted booth!), a 450-seat outdoor tent and stage, and a Family Fest Zone with a Showtime Stage. The fair will be clustered in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park and adjacent blocks. Through a partnership with Half Price Books and the East Bay Children’s Book Project, the Festival will give away thousands of children’s books.

The Bay Area Book Festival is on the weekend of June 3-4. For more information about the Festival, visit baybookfest.org or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Festival’s hashtag is #baybookfest. Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Bay Area Book Festival.