Over 200 authors will be at Sunday’s Brooklyn Book Festival, but you have only eight hours to see them all. To help you winnow down the options, here’s our picks for every time slot and panel type — those you need a free ticket for and those you don’t. It’s an important distinction, because you’ll be vying with Serious Book Lovers willing to line up two hours early for superstars like Jonathan Lethem. (Which is what you should plan on, even though tickets are available at two info booths this year, one at Borough Hall Plaza and one on Montague Street at Clinton. Both release tickets an hour prior to a panel.) We also have suggestions for kids, young adult readers and comic fans, considering the New York Comic Con makes its debut this year. The full lineup is on the Festival site; a quick glance at the main venues is here.
Ticketed: “The Legacies of John Updike and David Foster Wallace” — Salon’s Laura Miller and other critics examine the careers of these two towering figures. Borough Hall Courtroom
Open: “Next Texts: Four Debut Novelists.” Joanna Smith Rakoff (A Fortunate Age) and other debut novelists read from their work. St. Francis College Reading Room
Kids/YA/Comic Con: At 10:30 meet Mo Willems, the man behind Knuffle Bunny, a classic in many a Brooklyn kid’s home. Target Children’s Area on the Plaza
Ticketed: “Short Stories Stand Tall” — An uninspired name for a spirited panel about the genre, with masters like A.M. Homes. St. Francis College Auditorium
Open: “Poetry Society of America Presents” — Famous poets like Anne Carson take the stage for a group reading. Main Stage on the Plaza
Kids/YA/Comic Con: At 11:30am, Political cartoonist and blogger Tom Tomorrow reads from his debut kids book that adults love, The Very Silly Mayor. Target Children’s Area on the Plaza
Ticketed: “Faux Society” — If you’re wondering how many real-life counterparts there are in Amy Sohn’s Prospect Park West, hear her and other authors dish on real and fictional characters in their work. Borough Hall Courtroom
Open: “Believe it or Not” — New Yorker financial columnist James Surowiecki moderates the biographers and chroniclers of scam artists like Madoff. Brooklyn Historical Society
Kids/YA/Comic Con: “Reading to Kids” — The librarian from Bank Street College (known for its early childhood programs) talks about reading to children with a few of the Festival’s children’s authors. North Stage on the Plaza
Ticketed: “Norman Mailer” — Topics likely to come up at this panel on Mailer’s life, featuring Pete Hamil: New Journalism, fist-fights, and fond memories of The Village Voice. St. Francis College Auditorium
Open: “Rasskazy” — Authors Francine Prose and Dale Peck read from the Tin House anthology of new Russian fiction, Rasskazy, and Emily Gould talks to one of its contributors about Russia’s literary legacy. International Stage on the Plaza
Kids/YA/Comic Con: For little girls, Victoria Kahn reads from Goldilicious (Target Children’s Area) and for Marvel lovers of all ages, Jim McCann talks about our favorite comics with fellow Marvel artists (Comic Con Pavilion).
Ticketed: “Satire and Comic Relief in 2009” — The hilarious Gary Shteyngart appears with other satirical writers on this panel moderated by the New Yorker’s Ben Greenman. Borough Hall Courtroom
Open: “Movin’ On Up” — Can’t believe this isn’t ticketed: Provocative writers like Walter Kirn, Lewis Lapham and Paul Tough hold court on upward mobility in America. Borough Hall Community Room
Kids/YA/Comic Con: “Love and Longing” — Best-selling young adult writers like Ned Vizzini of Be More Chill talk about the portrayal of love in their work. Youth Stoop on the Plaza
Ticketed: “Literary Masters” — Pretty straightforward: Paul Auster, Russell Banks, and Francine Prose read from their latest work. St. Francis College Auditorium
Open: “American Food” — Serious Eats‘ Ed Levine talks about food culture past and present with writers of hot foodie reads like Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. North Stage on the Plaza
Kids/YA/Comic Con: Ayun Halliday reads from Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo, which is as laugh out loud as the title. Target Children’s Area
Ticketed: “Writers on Unforgettable Friendships” — An intriguing idea for a panel: New York Review of Books contributors like Oliver Sacks speak about relationships that profoundly impacted their lives. St. Francis College Auditorium
Open: “Sound Unbound” — DJ Spooky talks about the concept of the remix in music and culture — the subject of his book Sound Unbound — with music journalist and novelist Touré. North Stage on the Plaza
Kids/YA/Comic Con: For the advanced book worm, award-winning authors like M.T. Anderson talk about their adolescent epics in “Adventures in the Past.” Youth Stoop
Ticketed: “Jonathan Lethem and Mary Gaitskill in Conversation” — Good luck getting in! St. Francis College Auditorium
Open: A tough call. Either the “Happy Ending Reading Series,” hosted by curator and author Amanda Stern, with Jonathan Ames and more (Main Stage on the Plaza), OR “The Cult of the Amateur,” in which Phillip Lopate and two other “professional amateurs” talk about the pleasures of dabbling with David Gates (Brooklyn Historical Society).
Kids/YA/Comic Con: Pirates, princesses and monsters will grace the stage in a performance of Geoffrey Haye’s “Benny and Penny” Toon books. Comic Con Pavilion
Text by Nicole. Photos and images from top courtesy of Brooklyn Borough President’s office, Tom Tomorrow, by William Coupon/CORBIS and Hachette.