Bay Area Book Festival is back in Berkeley, April 28-29, for fourth year

People enjoying the Bay Area Book Festival in 2016. Photo: Michael Hitchner

The Bay Area Book Festival is back for its fourth year on the weekend of April 28-29, taking over streets, parks, indoor venues and outdoor stages in downtown Berkeley, with the goal of taking a deep dive into books, literature and all things related to the written word.

An estimated 250 authors from the Bay Area and around the world are expected to attend, delivering keynotes, talking on panels and being interviewed. Special tracks this year include a new one, called Women Lit, which taps into the #metoo zeitgeist and also reflects the fact that the festival was founded by a woman — Cherilyn Parsons — and is largely run by women. The other 2018 tracks are Native Storytelling, Young Adult Literature and International Authors.

Headliners include Robert Reich and Pico Iyer, Rebecca Solnit, Alice Waters, Dave Eggers, Catherine Coulter, Geneen Roth, and Sally Kohn, as well as YA bestselling authors Nina LaCour and Melissa de la Cruz.

As in previous years, festivalgoers can visit dozens of exhibitor booths at the outdoor fair and there will be lots of interactive activities on offer, including many designed for kids.


“Our festival unabashedly embraces ‘Bay Area values’ of change, diversity, inclusion, and activism, plus all-important hope, playfulness and joy,” said Parsons. “What’s more, while our festival has always emphasized important female voices, in this time of #metoo activism we have the strongest slate ever — part of our new Women Lit program.”

Some of the speakers who fall under the Women Lit category are memoirist and novelist Lidia Yuknavitch, experimental Irish novelist Eimear McBride, feminist journalist Peggy Orenstein, bestseller Joyce Maynard, Booker Award finalist Madeleine Thien, comics artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb, post-punk musician and memoirist Viv Albertine (in conversation with Greil Marcus), and masculinity expert Michael Kimmel.

The Native American program features historians Peter Cozzens and Benjamin Madley, fiction writer Greg Sarris, and young, pathbreaking novelists Tommy Orange and Katharena Vermette. A partnership with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria brings Sonoma’s tribal youth to the Festival to present a new anthology of their own writing.

YA and Children’s programming includes middle-grade books from Dave Eggers, Newbery Award winner Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan, Wishtree), and former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

The festival has also partnered with UC Berkeley to co-create and promote some programming, including a film screening series at BAMPFA.

BABF ticket information: Outdoor venues, including the San Francisco Chronicle Stage, are free. All indoor programs can be accessed through Priority Tickets at $10/session to guarantee seating (ticket holders must arrive 10 minutes before session start time). The other option is a General Admission Wristband, which allows access to all sessions all weekend for only $15, with wristband holders entering sessions on a first-come, first-served basis after Priority Ticket holders are let in. Tickets are available online at baybookfest.org. The Friends of the Festival program  allows attendees to receive wristbands and Priority Tickets while supporting the nonprofit festival.